Review: Now wheelchair accessible.
Sly Cooper first came to light as a solo act in 2002 and returned to PS2 with playable partners in crime two years later in 2004. Despite the good behavior of the expanded sequel, Sucker Punch Productions has taken no time off and instead offers us Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves just one year later. The shorter time frame doesn't mean that this game is merely more of the same, however. Sly has a few tricks up his sleeve to get platform gamers going again including 3D graphics, two-player missions, classic characters with new moves and an assortment of new chorines to control. With clever level designs and creative puzzles to boot, Cooper fans should feel right at home with their favorite ring-tailed hero and his honorable thieving friends.
The Sly series has shown great maturity in the development of its storyline. It uses a framed narrative to give players a taste of the game's climax and then ventures into the past, allowing players to work their way up to that point. The conversations between characters can also be appreciated by an older audience. Craftier jokes are often cracked by none other than Sly Cooper and Bentley is usually the butt of them. Of course, despite the engrossing story form and the smarter, more sophisticated humor, the presentation is still in the kid-friendly, comic-book-come-to-life form. The same applies to the rest of the game's graphics, which are more colorful and vibrant than ever. The boss characters are always in incredibly imaginative in design and so are the environments, which are enlarged and yet still perfectly laid out. Background music and sound effects also effectively fit each environment, like when Sly sneaks through a cave, his voices creates the appropriate echo.
As slick as Sly 3 looks, players are limited to viewing the game is standard definition. There's no progressive scan support here, unlike this year's Jak X: Combat Racing and Ratchet: Deadlocked. Sucker Punch did, however, add visual finesse in the way of 3D graphics, which neither its platform counterparts nor any other PlayStation game to date supports. These eye-popping visuals can be viewed through cheap red and blue cellophane glasses, or as they're called in this game ?depth optimizer goggles.? A pair is included in the game's manual, so you don't have to find your glasses from Spy Kids 3D or admit you've seen that movie. Wearing them in certain levels causes dangerous objects such as fire and lasers to leap out from the screen. Anyone that's colorblind or just can't stand wearing the glasses can disable the feature, although even Sly Cooper wears the specs in the game, so you know you're cool if you do too.
Only a select few will find the gimmicky glasses annoying. On the other hand, many may feel that the camera is a slight but constant issue. It'll occasionally get stuck on building sides and leave your character prone to danger around the corner. Luckily, the issue is tame compared to some other platform games, so incidents are few and far between and the strafe can be adjusted vertically and horizontally. Also, while the camera might not always point you in the right direction, the way point indicators will. In the last game, these icons appeared above the mission locations throughout each hub world and in Sly 3, they've been enhanced even more to keep you from getting lost.
Missions continue to be the most ingenious aspects of the series, as each scheme is designed in a clever fashion. For example, one mission calls for players to outfit Sly is a guard costume, approach an on-duty guard with the correct face-button password, take over his shift so that Bentley can access a secured room and scan a painting with a magnifying glass to find a three digit combination. Although most of the missions are straightforward as far as gameplay goes, the large-scale operations give you a sense of an elaborate undertaking and really put you in the persona of a criminal mastermind.
The missions are well varied, but the gameplay always stays true to the platform genre with jumping and climbing as a constant focus. For returning characters, new attacks expand the move set a little bit, Bentley seeing the most notable changes. Unable to use his legs due to circumstances in the previous game, the brainy turtle is confined to a tricked-out wheel chair and beats the odds by spinning and hovering all over the place, ramp or no ramp. Additional moves and gadgets can be purchased by collecting coins and logging onto ThiefNet, a process than Sly 2 fans should be quite familiar with already. Something new is the training room in which new moves and new characters can be fully explored.
As you progress through the episodes, your gang grows to an Ocean's Seven in order to pull off the ultimate heist. Reacquiring Murray is the first task since he pulled a Dave Chappelle and went on to a spiritual quest after the second season... err second game. He returns to the team in the first episode and brings along his advisor, ?The Guru,? as a new recruit in the next episode. RC expert Penelope joins up as the fifth member in the third episode, and so forth until you reach seven members. The new additions to the gang aren't as deep as the three main characters, but come with variety. For example, the Guru is all about non-violence, so instead of punching his enemies, he hops on their backs and rides them until they hurt themselves or others.
In addition to the seven thieves, players can also take control of Inspector Carmelita Fox, Sly's longtime nemesis and love interest. She's also the half the focus of one of the two-player games, a feature that's new to the Sly franchise. Cops and Robbers consists of one player attempting to steal as Sly and another trying to thwart his plan as Carmelita. Others like hacking and dogfighting are extensions of single-player levels and mini-games.