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Platform

PlayStation 2

 

Genre

Platformer

 

Publisher

SCEA

 

Developer

Sucker Punch

 

ESRB

E 10+

 

Released

September 2005

 

 

- Entertaining story

- Lots of characters to choose from

- Appealing visuals

- Nice musical score

- Not too tough, and not too easy

- The whole game drips with charm

 

 

- Can't play as supporting character whenever you want

- The optional use of 3D glasses in the game is highly superfluous

 

 

Review: Sly 2: Band of Thieves (PlayStation 2)

Review: Sly Cooper and the Thievius Racoonus (PlayStation 2)

 

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Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves

Score: 8.3 / 10

 

What with the way that Sony has been pushing out platformer sequels year after year for Sly Cooper, it would be hard not to blame someone for leveling a wary eye at the company for suspicions of attempted license milking.  However, having played through Sly 3: Band of Thieves, one couldnít be further from the truth, as the game is fun from start to finish thanks to its constantly evolving gameplay, family-friendly story that both young and old can enjoy, and the overwhelming charm that this title oozes every step of the way.

 

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Right from the start, players are treated to a very well told story in Sly 3.  The overall goal of the game isnít at all groundbreaking, as Sly is trying to get his family treasure currently in the clutches of a mad scientist by the name of Dr. M.  What makes the story work so well are the little adventures along the way, and how the gameís developers at Sucker Punch went out of their way to ensure the dialogue was engaging every step of the way.  The game is divided into chapters, and each of them is set in a different locale where players must fulfill a set of goals to proceed.  Some of these little treks are really interesting, with a few throwing in a surprise twist now and then.  All the while, players get to hear the banter between the gameís characters (all done with superb voice acting), whether itís witty quips, or someone obsessing over the strangest little nuance.  In a time where many gamesí storylines are becoming hurried, slapdash afterthoughts itís nice to see Sly 3 come along and give gamers some real quality storytelling.  Better still is that the game doesnít lean too much toward any sort of age group, managing to walk a line where both parents, and kids, as well as anyone in between can fire up the game and enjoy the story being told.

 

What helps the story along in Sly 3 is the overall presentation of the game.  Continuing with the cel shaded, cartoon-like visuals present in the previous two games, the overall look brings a lot of charm to the game.  Each stage has a whimsical look to it in terms of the overall art direction in the game.  It doesnít matter if players are in Venice, a pirate town, or the Australian Outback, the look of each environment has its own distinct personality, and itís hard to get tired of any of them.  On top of this, the music in Sly 3 fits every situation like a glove, accentuating the various emotions spilling over from one situation to the next.  The various characters in the game continue this trend through how they manage to exude emotion through body language and facial expressions.  Whether itís the gang having a conversation, or the look on a guardís face when he discovers the player, thereís this emotional pop that comes from the character.  Thereís not an instance of blasť indifference among the cast in Sly 3 from a visual standpoint, which goes that much further to ensure that gamers will like each and every character in the game.

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However, the best way to enjoy the characters in Sly 3 is by playing them, and there are quite a few to take control of in this game.  Early on, players will only be able to play as Sly and his tortoise friend, Bentley.  Soon after, Murray rejoins the group, and from there a number of other new and familiar faces slowly join the crew in order to help Sly retrieve his family fortune.  Each character has their own specialty, like Sly being the stealthy, nimble member, Bentley being the tech geek, and Murray acting as the muscle who prefers to 

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punch first and ask questions later.  These three make up the core group, and with such diverse skill sets, each of them brings their own fun to the table.  Want to see just how much money you can pinch from one of the guards wandering the stage?  Use Sly.  Want to futz around with gadgets for while?  Then you should pick Bentley.  Want to smash stuff?  Murrayís your hippo.

 

On top of these central members of the gang, players will slowly but surely convince others to bring their specialties to the folk.  As more people join the team, it becomes increasingly apparent that mini-games make up a large proportion of the content in Sly 3.  Several of the characters have highly specialized skills that are used in a non-platforming manner.  For instance, thereís tech savvy Penelope, who is a wiz with RC vehicles.  As such, when players use her in-game, they will usually be doing things like driving around her RC car, or helicopter, to complete certain tasks.  Another of the interesting additions is one character, who must remain nameless lest we incorporate a spoiler into this review, has the ability to act as a gunner in Sly 3, providing cover fire when other members of the team are trying to do something.  There are quite a few others as well that players will get to control in this mini-game fashion, and each of these feels like a natural addition to the game, and not forced.  Unfortunately, though, these support characters only come into play when their services are needed.  They arenít instantly accessible like Sly, Bentley, and Murray are, which is disappointing since it would have been nice to be able to play around with the RC vehicles, guns, and so forth whenever one wanted.

 

If players want to have even more abilities at their disposal, there are a number of gadgets and abilities that the team can buy with the money they steal.  Very few of these items and skills are absolutely necessary for the game, but they are a lot of fun, and well worth taking the time to get.

 

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Even with the addition of these new characters for this game, a lot of the core concepts remain the same, as players are generally encouraged to be sneaky while traversing the levels.  Like the previous games in the series, difficulty isnít too high in Sly 3, which works well in ensuring that the game maintains its family friendly sensibility.  The game will be a challenge for the young Ďuns without being overwhelming, but itís by no means a pushover that veterans will grow tired of either.

 

One new feature introduced for Sly 3 is the use of 3D glasses for some areas of the game.  Every now and then, players will come to an area where they can use a pair of cardboard, fold up 3D glasses in order to have things seem to jump at their faces while playing the game.  Whatís neat is that the game tries to incorporate slapping on the glasses as something that Sly is doing as well, like being having him put on special vision enhancing goggles when entering a dark cave.  Thankfully, using these glasses is entirely optional while playing the game, because they arenít very good.  A little kid who doesnít need glasses might like them, but for everyone else these 3D specs are a bad case of eyestrain just waiting to happen.  When I tried putting them on, I discovered that my head is way to big to use them properly, and that I needed to take off my eye glasses in order for them to fit.  So, suddenly I was in the middle of a delicate balancing act trying to keep the 3D glasses on my face, all the while being blind as a bat.  Really, Sucker Punch would have been better off not bothering with these 3D segments in the game.

 

While other Sony published platformers like Ratchet, and Jak have went off in very different directions over the years, Sly 3 has largely stuck to doing what it does best, all the while managing to remain a charming, highly entertaining experience for young and old.  Those who havenít played the first two games can hop right in without feeling alienated, and those who have followed the Sly series from day one can feel safe that the gameís quality hasnít ebbed in the least over the years, while still enjoying the little in-jokes peppered throughout Sly 3.  Fans of the platform genre can do no wrong by picking up this game.

 

- Mr. Nash

(October 23, 2005)

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