There’s still almost two weeks left to grab some of the ‘old-gen’ trophies before PlayStation 4 comes along with brand new games and challenges. Although I will be getting the new console day one, I still plan to go back to some older titles that I haven’t managed to play so far. One of those titles was Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, a sequel to a PlayStation 2 franchise, created by Sucker Punch. This time, however, it was Sanzaru games who were responsible for developing a new Sly adventure for PS3 and PS Vita. Previously, Sanzaru ported the Sly Cooper trilogy to a HD collection for PS3. There was no doubt they understood the characters and the franchise and, in the end, they did a very good job with Thieves in Time.
I have not played any of the previous Sly Cooper games but I always liked action platformers and this title was right up my alley. To be honest, the gameplay reminded me of the inFamous series, even though the story and tone of the game are obviously completely different. The structure is pretty straightforward – advance through the levels, get upgrades and new abilities to better take care of subsequent challenges. The strength of Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time lies in the diversity of those challenges and gameplay elements. Sly Cooper is only one of many playable characters in the game, which include his closest friends Bentley (the brain) and Murray (the muscle) as well as five of Sly’s ancestors and his girlfriend. Each of the characters has a distinct style of play, which keeps the game fresh and interesting, even though the particular set pieces (climbing, jumping, shooting on rails, etc.) are common for this genre. However, the rythm mini-games with Murray and Carmelita or the Bentley’s hacking challenges bring a welcome break from the platforming portions of the game.
The story takes our main heroes through six different time periods, where they rescue Sly’s ancestors from a predicament they had found themselves in and, in return, the new friends help the team take care of the villains. All this leads to a final battle with LeParadox, who used time travelling tricks to become an influential persona as he executed a personal vendetta against the Cooper clan, blaming them for his own family’s misfortunes. The plot may not be the strongest point of the game, but it makes sense in a cartoon kind of way and, for a game targeted also at a younger audience, is perfectly acceptable. The heroes visit feudal Japan, the wild west, a prehistoric valley, medieval England and ancient Arabia. All the places are presented in a nice and distinct way with good graphics. However, the enemies that try to stop Sly are practically the same in all locations, differentiated only by the way they look. Also, fighting them using anyone else but Murray or Carmelita is boring and tedious and I usually tried a stealth approach to moving through the locations or simply went as fast as possible to the next destination to limit my encounters with the enemies.
The boss fights, on the other hand, are more exciting, even though they are done in an very traditional way. Memorize the patterns and act accordingly, usually using the special ability, acquired earlier in the chapter. I have zero problems with this approach since the entire game has a very old-school feel to it, which I consider a good thing.
As is often the case with Vita games, I can’t say much about the audio design. Most of the time playing Sly Cooper: Theives in Time, I was listening to something else, tuning in from time to time to listen to a few cutscenes which, for whatever reason, were not subtitled like the rest of the game. However, sounds become helpful when collecting the bottles, located all around the levels, which clank when the character is near them. Finding all of them would prove very difficult otherwise without the help of a guide.
All in all, I really enjoyed my time with the game. The main story lasts around 8 hours, which I consider long enough. However, there are many trophy-related challenges and many collectibles to be found, which is enough for a few more hours. There is no online component to the game. Sly Cooper: Theives in Time plays very well on the Vita, although there is a drop in the quality of the graphics and the load times are sometimes too long and they appear too often. Still, I would surely recommend it for all the Vita owners (not an owner yet? see why you should become one soon), especially since the game supports cross-buy with the PlayStation 3. I’m excited about the next Sly Cooper game and I will certainly try it out if it’s anything like this one.
Now, let’s have a look at some of the interesting and challenging trophies in the game.
| Hero Tech
|Battle with a secret weapon|
I already mentioned that the game reminded me of inFamous and one of the reasons might be that Sly can equip Cole’s Amp weapon instead of his trusted cane to fight and rob the enemies! This secret weapon is a tribute to Sucker Punch, creator of the Sly franchise, who later moved on to create the inFamous series. What is more, another secret weapon available in the game is Ratchet’s wrench. Sanzaru Games worked on the port of Secret Agent Clank from the PSP to the PS2, a rather obscure installment in the Ratchet and Clank franchise. To top it off, the coins that are left behind by defeated enemies, turn to bolts and screws as additional tribute to that game.
| Crazed Climber
|Scale the dragon lair in under 90 seconds|
This is one of the challenge-based trophies which uses Sir Galleth’s cane spring ability. I like this one more than some of the other ones because its time-based nature makes it more challenging and doesn’t work with the ‘restart from checkpoint’ trick that can be used elsewhere. Even though the climbing section is not particularly difficult and can be easily beaten in half that time, I still needed two or three attempts to complete it because I was trying to rush it. Also, I enjoy trophies that display the abilities of the characters and make the player use them in an interesting way.
| Apollo Wins
|Have the perfect workout during the Training Montage|
In a game filled with humor there were few moments that were more entertaining than this Karate Kid, 80’s style training montage where Caveman Bob Cooper is trained by Sensei Murray. The obligatory push-ups and chin-ups, our hero getting stronger with each successful training, the motivational directions of the coach. Again, the trophy itself is not difficult to unlock, although the game cheats in the penguin slingshot mini-game and it’s sometimes impossible to hit the first target, which requires going back to the beginning of the training.
There are three collectible items in the game – bottles, which unlock safes with upgrades, treasures, which unlock arcade machines in the hideouts, and masks, which unlock character outfits and equipment skins. This is another element of the game which reminded me of inFamous and the long hours spent searching for all the shards in Empire City. I was not able to complete that hunt without a guide then and I failed this time, as well, although I came much much closer.
I managed to find all the bottles and treasures without consulting any guides. A pro-tip to all future thieves – first, collect all 30 bottles in the prehistoric chapter, which unlocks Clockwerk’s Eye, a power-up that shows all the other bottles on the map. This makes looking for them much easier, although a few are still quite challenging to reach.
| Quarter Cruncher
|Unlock all 6 arcade machines|
The treasures are also located on the main level maps only, although there is no help where they might be. A good hint is that they usually require one or more Sly costumes to be used, so it’s a good idea to leave this challenge until the game is finished and all the upgrades have been acquired. Whether it’s a distant island that requires a line to cross or a green force field that can only be traversed on a prison ball, some of the locations are impossible to get to without the extra abilities.
| Mark Your Territory
|Collect all the hidden Sly masks|
This is where the really hard part begins. There are eleven masks in every main chapter, one of which is always located inside the arcade mini-game. Additional 5 masks can be found in the two Paris levels. However, not only are they hidden in the open world areas, some of them can only be obtained in job-specific locations and are usually obscured by the environment elements. Going back to every mission, painstakingly looking for them, felt too tedious and with 48 out of 60 masks found, I turned to a very good guide by HappyThumbsGaming that helped me get the remaining 12. For sure, it’s not impossible to find them without any help but I no longer have the patience to look into every nook and cranny, not with so many other fine games waiting for me to Platinum them. Also, the hidden Lazy Trunk Spa & Lounge area is easy to miss if you’re not careful enough.
| Mask and Stripes Forever
|Collect every bronze, silver, and gold trophy|
Have you played Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time and / or other titles in the series? Would you recommend going back to those older games or are you more excited about Knack that may bring some of that old-school platforming gameplay to our new-gen machines? Let me know in the comments below the post!