Graceful controls and well-designed levels make Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time another satisfying entry in the series.

The Good

  • Intricate and diverse levels
  • Each character has his or her own appeal
  • Lots of collectibles to unearth
  • Colorful, striking artistic design.

The Bad

  • Tedious combat
  • Easy difficulty diminishes the fun of thieving.

Thieves sure do lead enviable lives. Not only do they get to explore exotic locales and caress exquisite treasure, but they can even mingle with their ancestors. Yes, in Sly Cooper’s latest foray, he steals priceless artifacts while thumbing his nose at scientific law. Zooming through history’s pages brings plentiful, and often welcome, diversity to this horological adventure. There’s a continuous flow of tantalizing environments to wander through and crooked schemes to take part in, though there are times when this variety serves as a detriment. Graceful as Sly’s thieving crew can be, when it comes to fisticuffs, they’re nothing more than blundering buffoons. Nevertheless, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is a lengthy and exciting caper through the eyes of good-natured burglars.

Rioichi can do more than make a mean sushi roll.

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The Thievius Raccoonus has served as a comprehensive account of the masterful exploits of the Cooper clan throughout history. As the brilliant turtle Bentley peruses this encyclopedia for information one day, he realizes that entire passages are being wiped clean. Who could so brazenly tamper with history? Bentley rounds up the rest of the gang–plucky Sly and the always hungry Murray would never turn down an opportunity for tomfoolery–and ushers them into his newly built time machine to investigate the cause of this historical whiteout.

No one blinks at this off-the-wall premise, and the humorous situations and dialogue ensure that the zany vibe continues until the game’s end. Characters embody specific archetypes, which means they don’t evolve over the course of the game, but their diverse personalities do a good job of creating a comedy well. Tennessee, Sly’s cousin from the Wild West, represents cowboys well, albeit while only participating in family friendly situations. His false modesty and aw-shucks charm around women is a sharp contrast to his “best of the West” boasts when apart from the fairer sex, and it’s amusing to see him do an about face. Salim is the funniest member of your assorted crew. Muttering sarcastic complaints under his breath, he reluctantly scurries up poles and across treacherous traps while pining for his forsaken retirement.

Sly must travel to five places throughout time, ranging from ancient Japan to a prehistoric ice land, to fix his ailing family tree. Each episode sports a massive hub world that’s much more than a link between stages. These areas are littered with enemies, collectibles, and all manner of hidden goodies, and scavenging for all the mysteries is one of the greatest joys in Thieves in Time. Yes indeed, there are plenty of tangible rewards to strive for. Racing back to your hideout with a valuable urn adds more coins to your bank, allowing you to unlock new maneuvers, and nabbing every stray bottle unlocks the secrets hidden within the safes. But there’s inherent pleasure in scouring the landscape that goes beyond completing a checklist. Keen eyes and deft maneuvering are required to reach the most elusive treasures, so there’s an irresistible delight in exploring every inch of the land.

Bentley loves to flaunt his high-tech wheelchair.

Bentley loves to flaunt his high-tech wheelchair.

It’s in these zones that you learn how to slink through shadows and balance on precarious ledges. Sly is an adept leaper who sees the ordinary construction of a city as a beckoning playground. Guide wires and poles call to him like inanimate sirens, and you jump and run through these environments with smooth elegance. Once airborne, you can latch on to surfaces with the tap of a button, though the suction doesn’t remove platforming skills. You still need to be relatively accurate to land on your target, so once you master movement, you can rush through ancient streets without a worry. Dance along rickety poles, sprint across a perilous wire, and then land behind a bewildered henchman. Creep behind your prey (complete with the appropriately sneaky music), pluck gold from his tantalizing purse, and then vanish before he senses your presence.

Graceful controls and well-designed levels make Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time another satisfying entry in the series.

By Tom Mc Shea