Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: Sucker Punch
Release Date: September 2005
(Warning: this preview includes spoilers for Sly 2.)
In the world of thievery and priceless goods, no name is more respected and feared than that of Cooper.
At least, that’s how it used to be.
The Coopers were master thieves, and their reign extended for decades. If something valuable disappeared mere days after it was discovered or unveiled, odds were that it was a Cooper’s doing.
Somewhere in the world, there’s apparently a vault hidden away that only a Cooper can open, for good reason. For as long as Sly’s family has been thieving, they’ve been hiding treasure in this vault over the generations, and they’ve amassed quite a sum. Sly Cooper was next-in-line for this glorious inheritance; unfortunately, the Coopers were “dethroned” when he was a child, and Sly was sent to an orphanage before the location of said vault could be passed on to him. It was there that he met his longtime friends, Murray and Bentley. Once they matured, they carried on the proud tradition of the Cooper family name, if only in spirit, by stealing everything they could get their hands on.
Their luck eventually ran out. As seen at the end of Sly 2, Bentley suffered a crippling blow during one of their heists. Murray, quite shook up from the whole thing, left the team in search of a better life through spiritual enlightenment. This left Sly pretty much on his own.
Sly, with the help of a mysterious walrus by the name of McSweeney (who claims to have been one of Sly’s father’s associates), has now finally found the vault where his family’s vast ill-gotten fortune is supposedly stored. The only problem is that someone beat him to it years ago, and has been trying to crack the vault ever since, to no avail. A mysterious “Dr. N” has built a fortress around the vault, with security rivaling that of Fort Knox. To get back what’s “rightfully” his, Sly’s going to have to pull off the biggest heist he’s ever done; and it’s a job that’s much bigger than himself. Thus, it’s time to bring back the old gang, and then some.
What follows is a 16-level (with five “scenes” contained within each) of run-and-jump, hop-and-bop action featuring the most diverse cast of accessible characters and gameplay types yet for the series. This one’s set to be the magnum opus, ladies and gents.
Sucker Punch is keeping tight-lipped about the game’s full roster, but so far, there’s detailed information on five playable characters. Sly, of course, is in here, this being his game and all, with varied acrobatic moves and new attacks with his cane, and the ability to disguise himself in a crowd.
Murray flexes his immense strength through both his fists and his enormous rump. Bentley returns, this time wheelchair-bound, yet arguably more dangerous this way. He attacks with fancy chair moves, and has jet boosters attached to the thing, but can also set land mines and wields a pickpocketing gadget as well. Longtime fans of the Sly series will be overjoyed to know that Carmelita Fox, Sly’s policewoman nemesis, is finally playable, and puts her sidearm to good use. Finally, there’s a mysterious character known only as The Guru, Murray’s spiritual adviser. The Guru has the power to possess enemies’ minds, giving control of their movements to the player, as well as the ability to hide in plain sight.
Mugshot, from the first game, makes his return, as does Dimitri, the informant who you had to tail through a level of Sly 2. Dmitri will be a playable character this time out.
The game features the standard one-player mission, and also two-player capabilities. Two-player cooperative play is planned, as well as a host of “asymmetrical” minigames where two players play but are not necessarily after the same goal. In one of these, Sly, the first player, must steal loot and make it to various “safe points,” while the second player, controlling Carmelita, must do their best to catch him. A biplane shooting minigame and a singing minigame were also showcased, with more games in the works. This included an unspecified co-op mode.
One strange but welcome new feature that Sly 3 will support is its presentation in 3D. This isn’t 3D as in the style we’re used to, but full-on, jumping-right-out-at-you 3D, the type used as a gimmick in movies and television. Each copy of Sly 3 will be packaged with special glasses that, when worn, will enhance the depth of the graphics in some parts of the game. Sucker Punch has plans to implement the benefits of this into the gameplay, though they also say that the game will still be fully playable (and easy on the eyes) without them.
For this feature to work (as well as several other reasons such as enhanced effects and the requirements of certain gameplay types), the graphics rendering engine had to be completely rewritten. It certainly shows — there are now more diverse types of terrain that Sly and friends will be able to navigate, and the split-screen two-player games actually move along at a decent framerate while still keeping the detail of the one-player segments. The whole product, moreso now than ever before, looks like something out of a Saturday morning cartoon — well-animated, and full of color and comedy.
The Sly Cooper series has become one of the better platformers in the modern console era, simply because it is a platformer; unlike a lot of other games, it doesn’t let the hop’n’bop get lost amidst a host of options borrowed from other genres. Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves is shaping up to be a lot of fun for gamers of any age.
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