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The Sly Collection

Platform(s): PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: SCEE (EU), SCEA (US)
Developer: Sanzaru Games
Release Date: Nov. 9, 2010

About Brad Hilderbrand

I've been covering the various facets of gaming for the past five years and have been permanently indentured to WorthPlaying since I borrowed $20K from Rainier to pay off the Russian mob. When I'm not furiously writing reviews, I enjoy RPGs, rhythm games and casual titles that no one else on staff is willing to play. I'm also a staunch supporter of the PS3.


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PS3 Review - 'The Sly Collection'

by Brad Hilderbrand on Nov. 22, 2010 @ 2:15 a.m. PST

The Sly Collection features three PS2 hits (Sly Cooper and the Thievius Racconus, Sly 2: Band of Thieves and Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves) remastered in high def. and delivered on a single Blu-Ray Disc. The Sly Collection contains extra features and content, such as Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves in 3D and PlayStation Move minigames.

It seems the crafty devils at Sony might be on to something with this newfound interest in creating HD remakes of classic franchises. First they piqued our interest with the excellent God of War Collection, and now they've followed it up with the equally impressive Sly Collection. While the content remains the same, for a franchise as amazing as the Sly Cooper games, there's really no need to change too much. Though these are essentially the same games you've played once before, the top-notch gameplay and visual overhaul make this a must-have game for the holidays.

The series follows the exploits of master thief Sly Cooper and his buddies Bentley and Murray; they travel the globe and track down amazing treasures and priceless artifacts. Of course, along the way, they have to stay one step ahead of the authorities at Interpol as well as rival thieves and gangs, but they always manage to do it with a wink and a smile. The games remain mostly light and airy, but there are some serious moments from time to time. A bleak circumstance at the end of Sly 2 will likely leave some players heartbroken, but once you move on to Sly 3, things cheer up again, and the gang goes back to joking around. The stories remain fun even if they tend to trend a bit goofy.

One of the most notable things about the Sly franchise that The Sly Collection brings to light is just how much the core gameplay has changed over the course of the three installments. The first Sly title was very much a straightforward platformer, with linear level progression and the challenge distilled down to nailing tricky jumps and taking down challenging foes. Things changed drastically in Sly 2, as the developers completely scratched the old format in favor of open-world gameplay heavily bent toward stealth. Players were suddenly dumped into huge hub worlds with mission markers, and they were allowed to basically do whatever they wanted. Sly 3 refined the new direction, adding in a bunch of playable characters and letting gamers change from one character to another mid-mission.

The great thing about all these changes is that although they were drastic, they always felt natural and only served to enhance the fun factor. While navigating with less agile characters in the later games can be a bit of a pain, the gameplay variety offsets any annoyance they may cause. This is one of those rare cases where you can play three games featuring the same characters for over 30 hours and still find yourself wanting more when it's over. Indeed, the only ill feelings I had while playing The Sly Collection was when, closing in on the end of Sly 3, I realized the experience was about to end.

As happened with the God of War Collection, all three Sly games have had their graphics overhauled for Sony's HD console. The result is spectacular, with each game looking absolutely incredible, especially considering they're all several years old. The cel-shaded art design looks absolutely stunning, and the details in both the characters and environments really pop in HD. The only blemish is that the games retain their PS2-era transitions into cut scenes, which means some ugly muted colors and jagged edges. Maybe those were left in to remind us how far we've come and how good we have it these days. Those with fancy 3-D sets can even play some segments of the collection in an extra dimension, but since I don't have a 3-D set, we weren't able to test out this particular feature.

The anthology also supports Move for a handful of minigames, which are accessible from the main menu. Again, I don't have a Move wand yet, so I was unable to see how well these segments stacked up, but if nothing else, it's bonus content that wasn't available in the original series of games.

Since all three games are direct ports of their PS2 counterparts, they retain the same charms — and the same bugs. For the most part, the titles handle flawlessly (a testament to the talents of the crew at Sucker Punch), but there are still a couple of irritating issues that rear their heads once more. First off, the camera can be a real pain, especially in Sly 2. As the games moved from a fixed perspective to an open-world design, there were clearly some issues when it came to figuring out how to move the camera around. This leads to some nasty moments when players are forced to jump blindly or flail wildly at off-screen enemies, which is never fun regardless of how well the rest of the game works.

It's pretty clear that Sony knows we have a soft spot for upgraded versions of classic franchises, but you don't hear us complaining. The Sly Collection is proof once more that great games are truly timeless, and upgrading the visuals not only doesn't ruin the experience, but it absolutely enhances it. Fans who played the original games must pick up this release, and folks who may have wondered what all the fuss was about back in the day should take this opportunity to check it out for themselves. Even those who aren't really interested should give it a go because you're getting an amazing collection of games for a ridiculously low price of $40. All that's left to do is count down the days until the Team Ico Collection hits, and we get to do this all over again. It may not be the holidays quite yet, but after playing The Sly Collection, it sure feels like Christmas has come early this year.

Score: 9.0/10

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