Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is the fourth game in the Sly Cooper series and the first to be natively developed for the Playstation 3. The game was not developed by Sucker Punch, the developer of the three originals, but rather Sanzaru Games, the talented team who worked on The Sly Trilogy (HD re-release). Read on for details on the new title, in addition to our full review.

To anyone who hasn’t seen the above video, I recommend watching it. It is a very entertaining prequel to the game, which gives a little extra in terms of backstory before one plays Thieves in Time.

To begin the review, I want to clarify from the beginning: Sly Cooper Thieves in Time is not made by the developers of the original three games, but Sanzaru has done such an excellent job, it is almost impossible to tell. Thieves in Time is as much a Sly Cooper games as the first three. The gameplay and story are outstanding and really show that hardworking, new developers can do just as good a job as those with experience.

The origin of the game comes from a very interesting story. On a gamble, the studio began working on a prototype for a Sly Cooper game without authorisation, funding or guarantee from Sony. After creating a basic engine, they presented the project to Sony in hope of being permitted to create a new title. Sony were impressed with their presentation and gave the studio two projects to work on; the HD update to the original three Sly Cooper games and the development of a new game, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time.

As with previous games in the series, Sly is encouraged to stay away from fighting with enemies and to instead loot their pockets and execute a stealth attack behind them to deal with them quietly. Murray, on the other hand, is the brawn of the gang and will do the opposite of Sly, creating noise and enemy battles. Bentley is the brains of the group and only occasionally ventures outside to do a job only he can do, such as hacking. Most of his work is done from headquarters.

The game’s story is about time travel (as the title suggests). Sly and the gang must travel back through time and rescue previous members of the Cooper clan after situations go awry. This allows players to both see and explore older times in history and play as come of Sly’s ancestors, each of whom use different techniques and methods of stealthy movement. This story aspect allows for many new possibilities and unexpected characters, and thankfully, Sanzaru have taken advantage of these possibilities.

Graphically, the game looks very good. While the character models may occasionally appear a little rough, they generally look perfectly acceptable. The world designs, backgrounds and enemy designs, while looking a little old, have a certain charm to them. This graphical style suits the Sly Cooper games. Whilst not looking like Uncharted, the visuals have had a significant upgrade from the PS2 games and are as good as is needed for the game.
Music and sound effects are great, perfectly matching the quality of the score and effects present in Sucker Punch’s trilogy of Sly games. I cannot make any complaints in regards to sound and music, it is perfect for Thieves in Time.

The notorious clue bottles and safes are back, along with a revamped system of ‘TREASURES’. These treasures are to be taken back to the safehouse in a limited time period, however, in Thieves in Time, you are given coins in addition to the treasure being put in your treasure room – a novelty addition to the gameplay formula. New collectible ‘Sly Masks’ have been added, which are hidden throughout the missions. The game does not give waypoints, only a marker showing you where your destination is. It is your job to find a safe way across the region.

Many reviewers have said the load times are ‘excessively long’, however, I didn’t really notice this. Whilst load times may range from 10 to 15 seconds, or exceptional circumstances, 20 seconds, I would not consider these times excessively long as they pass relatively quickly. These load times are equivalent to the loading of a multiplayer match on Call of Duty, for example. Perhaps there has been a patch to fix the loading times, however, regardless of that, I did not find load times a huge problem.

Another bonus which makes the game excellent value is the free Playstation Vita version included with the purchase of the PS3 version. The Vita version runs just as smoothly & beautifully and is as much fun as the PS3 version of the game. Its inclusion is even more reason to buy the game for those who have, or are planning to get a PS Vita in addition to their PS3 console.

Overall, I feel Thieves in Time is a polished, extremely fun resurrection of the Sly Cooper series. Sanzaru Games has done an excellent job in mimicking the favourite elements from the original three games, bringing in their own new ideas and creating a Sly Cooper game just as fun as the original three made by the experienced Sucker Punch. Congratulations to Sanzaru on their achievement.