It's been almost a year since Sly Cooper and his cunning band pulled of their last heist on PS2s, eschewing the series' platforming roots for a more open-ended style of play. But far be it for this pack of thieves to simply rest on their laurels, especially when there's a larger score out there. Sucker Punch has spent the last year expanding the storyline of the cunning master thief and his two cohorts, delivering a worthy successor to Band of Thieves. From what we've seen of the first three missions in our demo, they've done an excellent job, keeping the accessible play from the last title while including new mission types, new gameplay features and other creative touches to make Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves the most ambitious game of the franchise.
The storyline of Honor of Thieves does build upon the events of the previous game, but you don't really need any experience with the other games to know what's going on. During the course of Sly's adventures, both he and the brains of his operation, Bentley, meet an old henchman known as McSweeney. McSweeney, an old associate of the Cooper family, tells Sly about his family heritage and, more importantly, his inheritance. Apparently, generations of Coopers stored their loot in a massive vault that only their family could open. Unfortunately, when Sly and his band of thieves arrive at the location of the vault, he discovers that someone named Doctor M has been trying to crack its secrets for years. It's up to Sly and his friends to reclaim his birthright and defeat Doctor M.
Retaining the concept of a free roaming city environment with linear tasks to move the plot along, Sly 3 drops you into a number of places around the world, with an overall mission objective to complete in each city or environment before you can move on. Players have the option to simply explore the city, picking pockets and smashing objects, or accomplishing goals at their own pace. Initially, you'll start off exploring the city as Sly, but as you succeed in different operations, you'll gain control of Bentley and other characters. And I'm not only speaking about "The Murray." You'll be pleasantly surprised to find a number of former enemies now firmly under your control for certain sequences. For instance, there's one mission where Sly leads a group of thugs to a police station and entices them to attack police officers. Control then switches over to Carmelita (if you can believe it), and she has to dispatch the incoming attackers.
In fact, the game does a number of these switched perspective missions, starting you out with control of one character and then switching you over to another to take advantage of some skill of theirs. For instance, there's one sequence where you use Sly to gain access to enemy bases with a disguise (okay, so they're heavily fortified coffeehouses, but who's counting?), only to have Bentley take over the infiltration and code breaking inside. However, this isn't the only game mechanic you'll run into; there are many more objects that you'll interact with to accomplish your goals. You might be tasked with entering the combination in a safe after examining a painting to find the code, or even picking a lock to a jail cell. You'll also find other mini-games that will keep you on your toes, such as mimicking a boss' singing with perfectly timed button presses.
Perhaps the most intriguing feature in Sly 3 is the inclusion of 3D perspectives on certain missions. While the game has taken on a 3D look at times due to its cel-shaded animation, we're talking true 3D with red and blue line enhancements to make the background stand out. There were only a few missions that took advantage of this feature, but the result was truly striking. Certain objects, like lamps, crates and pipes appeared to stand out on the game screen, while obstacles like flames and lasers looked a little more dangerous. While it was provided in small doses in the demo we played, the 3D mode (which was optional) was a cool addition to the series.
We've been truly impressed with the direction that Sly 3 is going. The missions are still as engaging as those found in Band of Thieves, and still take around the same amount of time to finish. Plus, Sly 3 appears to retain the same wit and humor from the previous games, so fans of the series will really be impressed with this adventure when it hits shelves in September. Check back soon for a full review!
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