Sly 3 Honor Among Thieves ReviewCain Dornan
Now in its third iteration, the Sly Cooper series has managed to remain largely consistent from the beginning. Launching at a time when platforming titles were launching on the Playstation 2 left, right and center, the original Sly Cooper and the Thievius Racoonus offered a somewhat refreshing gameplay style that offered gamers a new artistic presentation and gameplay execution by cleverly combining stylish cel-shaded visuals with classic platforming and stealth elements. A sequel, titled Sly 2: Band of Thieves, offered more of the same gameplay tasks that were featured in the original. While it was perfectly acceptable with a sequel that further extended the firsts story, adding a third title into the loop that differs little from the first two titles is questioning.
Despite the game remaining to be largely the same as the previous two titles at its core, Sly 3: Honour Among Thieves does include slight differences that add some much needed variety to the series. For starters, our thieving trio is now be expanded with the addition of new faces, who aid in bringing about the final conclusion. Youll also be treated to a slightly longer game, which is largely brought about by the inclusion of the new team characters. Finally, there is the inclusion of occasional missions that incorporate the use of 3D graphics, which can be achieved by wearing the stylish 3D glasses that come packaged with each copy of the game. While the younger crowd my be wowed with the thought of playing sections that are presented in a slightly 3D world, most gamers will select to play each section without the 3D after experiencing it for the first time, as it really doesnt contribute to the gameplay in any notable way.
But apart from this, Sly 3 remains to feel almost identical to its predecessors. While some may argue that the game does not need to be changed, there is the feeling of gradual boredom as you plow through overly familiar missions that involve locating an object or someone, retrieving it or destroying it. It will please the hardcore fan, no doubt, as the same creative missions that made the series noticeable are still evident. However, those who were moderately pleased with either two of the previous titles will begin to feel the overly familiar gameplay becoming nothing more than a been there, done that chore.
Sly 3 picks up where Sly 2 left us. A terrible accident results in Bentley, the intelligent turtle who is the brains behind every heist, being confined to a wheel chair. Murray, the brawn who packs a heavy punch, blames himself for his friends unfortunate turn of events and decides to leave the group and search for a more peaceful way of life. Despite Sly, the acrobatic raccoon who leads the group, and Bentleys attempts at persuading Murray to remain with the group, the purple hippo sets off for Australia, leaving his friends in the lurch and showing no signs of returning to the group anytime soon.
This doesnt stop Sly and Bentley continuing with their thieving duties, though. After Sly hears of his ancestors large vault on a remote island, which is apparently filled with the treasures that the Cooper gang has accumulated over the years, the two set off to crack open the vault and bask in the riches that await them inside. Upon arriving on the island, though, they discover that someone else has also learnt of the famous vault and has decided to erect a massive fortress to keep trespassers off the island while they attempt to open the vault. Undeterred by the slight setback, Sly ventures into the fortress in an attempt to locate and open the vault before anyone else. It soon turns out, however, that a crazed scientist is currently working on decrypting the vault, and doesnt appreciate Sly arriving on the island uninvited. With no way to defeat the powerful scientist, Sly and Bentley retreat and begin devising a new plan to unlock the vault.
Sly 3 will send you through various different locales as you travel around the world, recruiting additional team members and retrieving necessary items in order to defeat the scientist and unlock the Cooper vault. After locating Murray in Venice, Italy, you will travel on to the dry deserts of Ayres Rock, Australia, the green plains of Holland and snowy alps of China, amongst over countries. Each country is presented in a Chapter, which is further divided into sub-missions that change slightly depending on the location that you are in. During your cross-continent journeys youll also meet up with a range of new people, who eventually join your group and aid in your quest to unlock the family vault. Appropriately, the enemies that you come up against vary according to where you are, which is an additional nice little varying touch.
Each of the games missions are dealt from a central base, which is set-up in each different location that you visit. In addition to being able to switch between each of the characters to use, the base is also used for various other purposes. Bentley regularly advises you on how to complete a mission through slide-shows prior to a mission and through in-game dialogue, updating you on the progress and informing you of what you should do next in order to achieve the desired goal. The missions usually consist of locating and stealing items, which are either used to directly aid in your quest to unlock the Cooper vault or are sold to make quick cash through the Thiefnet; a network of underground, Black Market-like trading that is performed in a similar fashion to Internet peer-to-peer programs. You can also use the Thiefnet to purchase new items for each of your playable characters to use, with some of these items being completely optional while others are required in order to complete specific missions. There is also a fair share of stealth missions, which involve infiltrating a location using either stealth of Sly or sheer bash em up with Murray. The occasional boss battle is also thrown in, which usually occurs upon the completion of each area. Basically, expect to find the same type of missions that were found in both of the previous games.
In addition to roaming around on-foot, youll also be treated to the occasional mission that involves controlling a vehicle of some sort. Youll be driving, flipping and attacking using various machines that range from speeding through tight canals in a small boat, retrieving angry scorpions in a huge mining truck and even taking to the skies in an airplane to take part in some dogfighting. While each of these gameplay sections arent quite as solid and polished as the on-foot missions, they do offer a pleasing change from the usual sneaky missions.
There is also a two-player multiplayer mode available, which is a first for the series. The game allows you to participate in four mini games, which include Hackathon, which is essentially a two-player version of the hacking mini game that is featured in the single player campaign. There is also Cops and Robbers, which is a take on the classic childrens game that involves one player controlling Sly while the other takes on the role of police member Carmelita, who must prevent Sly from succeeding in his missions before the time runs out. The two last multiplayer games on hand is Biplane duel, which is dog-fighting in airplanes, and Galleon Duel, which allows you to control ships in a high-seas battle against your component.
Sly 3 delivers more of the stylish cel-shaded visuals that could be found in Sly 2. While there are no noticeable differences between the two games graphics-wise, many will agree that there are no significant changes needed for this refreshing looking game. Characters reek with personality, as the art designers have clearly put in considerable effort in making each character unique and noticeable. Animation, in particular with Sly, is of an impressive level, fluently and cleanly leaping from building and building in an impressive manner.
A collection of classic-sounding music has been gathered to provide each of the environments with a unique touch. A majority of the music resembles jazz, which has been present throughout the series. The music is completed with some great voice acting.
The Sly series is a stylish and somewhat unique series, although, a third title that is almost identical as the previous two is certainly not needed. The third title really needs to introduce something new, more so then what attempts at breathing some new life into the game have been given. The new additional playable characters and the slightly shallow multiplayer mode does offer a limited level of variation, however, the game is far too similar at its core. The end result is a game that hardcore series fans will likely enjoy, while most gamers become bored with this far too familiar title. Platforming fans who are yet to be treated to playing a Sly game should certainly check it out, while those who have played a previous Sly game may need to give it a quick rent first.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.