Some of the most memorable and important experiences in games I have had come from those titles that take a rather deep journey into human morality, read Bioshock, Infamous, those sorts. I like to think that these games are what they are because while they often structure their gameplay after titles of years-gone-by, modern developers are able to add layers of depth onto them; which is to say that many titles of the Playstation 2 and its brothers loved nothing more than to have well-built mechanics that looked great (think ICO or the Star Wars: Battlefront games that remain popular even today). And as technology gave entry to the more powerful consoles and PC’s that sit beneath your television or on your desk today, studios have been at the liberty to start adding more and more features onto what was mastered before. That’s not to say that everyone uses those liberties to their full extents (with the aforementioned technology allowing for the now annual flood of tasteless, brown, mush that rears its ugly head around this time of year), however this is not always the case.
While most of my early experiences in gaming were the good, old point & click adventures of the PC, the first console game I bought and owned was (glances over to prized collection of games) Sly Cooper & The Thievius Raccoonus on the PS2. For the longest time, nothing I had ever played, or would play after that, could compare to its engaging plot, sinister villains, memorable heroes, visually pleasing art, well composed music, etc. etc. Or at least until the sequel came out. But those days of dashing, rogue-like adventure ended for me in 2005 with the release of the series’ third game: Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves. And it seemed that such would be the case for many, long years–even the HD re-release of the entire trilogy in 2011 was just…not enough.
History aside, though–imagine my surprise when after 7 years, a fourth game comes right out of the blue sky! Normally I hate it when a trilogy gets a fourth installment, unless you’re Lord of the Rings, and that was a prequel, but the case with the Sly Cooper games is a bit different in that the third game ended in a cliffhanger itself, warranting a sequel that is, honestly, long since due, and more likely to be a The Hobbit (or There & Back Again if you’re simply beyond cool) than a Phantom Menace…or anything out of that ‘other’ Star Wars trilogy really.
For those of you who never finished or even played Sly 3, the epilogue briefly mentions one of the characters building a time machine, which makes the title Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time come as little surprise to any other fans of the series. Throughout the games’ mythos, the legendary ‘Cooper Clan’ is continuously brought up, making it obvious that the protagonist, Sly Cooper, was never the first thief of his kind, however aside from a few brief scenes in earlier games, very little at all is known of the ancestors. As though fleshing out these mysterious characters and adding three new ones were not intriguing enough, though, footage from E3 showcases a wealth of wonderful gameplay mechanics, both old and new.
Everything we loved about the earlier games seems to be present: basic maneuvers like the rail sliding ability along with pipe climbing are here, naturally, as well as a the series’ trademark platforming action that makes boss fights such as the one above so interesting and challenging. However, one thing that took me a moment to catch on to was the use of Samurai Armor as defense against fire. In the second and more so in the third games, the player would often assume disguises to perform many missions in the game as any good thief would do. However the use of armor is something more reminiscent of the first game, in which the player would often times hop into barrels to protect themselves from dart-firing turrets that could not be stealthily avoided. While not fully explained in the video, it is reasonable to infer that something like a suit of armor in what is most likely feudal south-east Asia can pull double duty, incorporating the fun disguise missions of Sly 2 & 3 with the often puzzle-like barrel suit sequences of Sly 1 levels.
The boss battles seem much more refined, and the user interface shows signs of improvement as well, even ion minor changes like showing lost health with a bright shade of red, rather than just a darker shade of blue. Even aesthetic elements like the way the rails curve, and the lighting and textures appear are all similar to those in the earlier games, giving fans a lot to look forward to. And for those of you who have already bought a Playstation Vita, you can buy a copy of the game on either the PS3 or the Vita and receive it on the other for free as part of Sony’s Cross Buy program.
As a long time fan of the series from its beginning, I honestly have high hopes for the latest addition to the series; while not developed by the original studio Sucker Punch, Sly 4: Thieves in Time shows all the signs of a game that stays true to its roots, but still branches out into new areas of gameplay that deliver a more in depth experience in stealth platforming, a much neglected genre in today’s market.
Article from Gamersyndrome.com