I know it’s been a little while since my last look at the Sly Cooper series, but I had finished a few games in between the second and third installment and figured I’d write about them first. I played Sly Cooper 3 as part of the Sly Cooper Collection that came out on the PlayStation 3 just like I did the previous two installments. This was the last Sly Cooper game for the PlayStation 2 and it took quite awhile for the series to gain another entry. Did this game fall flat or did it just take a break on a high note?
The story picks up around a year or so after Sly Cooper 2: Band of Thieves and starts us of with an assault on an island that houses the Cooper Vault, the vault of Sly’s family. Dr. M, who has put up defenses to protect the vault and keep it for himself, finds then and captures Sly. Sly then has a flashback and we get to play through the story to see how we came to this point.
We see that Sly learns about the Cooper vault from one of his father’s associates a man named McSweeney. After going to the vault and finding that Dr. M had turned the island it was on into a fortress to attempt to claim the vault for himself. Upon seeing this Sly need to get the Cooper Gang back together.
Sly and Bentley seem to still be working together despite Bentley’s injury he sustained at the end of the last game forcing him to be confined to a wheelchair, but Murray is not with the group. He blamed himself for Bentley’s injury and left. So Sly and Bentley seek to get the gang back together and break into the Cooper Vault.
As they do this though, they realize they’re going to need more than just the three of them to pull off this heist. So they wind up recruiting a group of thieves for this job, some of which are pulled from past enemies.
Largely the gameplay is very similar to previous Sly Cooper games, particularly Sly 2. It is still a 3D platformer that incorporates stealth and combat. Like Sly 2, this one includes the use of a health bar, ability to use Bentley and Murray, and upgradable abilities.
Of course there some changes and additions to Sly 3, but I’d say that not too many of them are too significant. With a larger crew you can also play as some of the other members you’ll recruit at times. Also with this installment, Sly isn’t the only one who can pickpocket. Bentley and Murray can also pick pockets, although their methods are a little different than Sly’s.
Some of the abilities are different, like disguises, and there are some different mechanics added, like airplane dogfights and pirate ship battles, that take place in some of the different chapters of the game. Another difference has been the removal of the clue bottles and vaults from the game that seem to be replaced with challenge missions and treasure hunting.
Overall though, this is still another Sly game and if you’ve played the first two, then you should have little trouble adapting to the gameplay of this game. Most of the things I’ve listed are fairly minor and don’t really make too much of a difference to the base game.
Like the previous games friendship and teamwork are a major theme present in this work. In some ways it seems like it is more developed as a theme than in the previous games. You see this through the rebuilding of the Cooper Gang, and also by the comparison that comes up later in the game between Sly and his gang and Sly’s father and the group he used to work with.
Behind this theme is the question of whether or not the Cooper Gang is a gang built on friendship or simply convenience. Each seem to have to wrestle with this at some point in the game. Murray does in coming to terms with Bentley’s injuries and the fact that Bentley doesn’t blame him at all. Sly has to face it in wondering if he is using his friends simply as tools or if they truly mean something to him. Bentley also has to deal with this, as Dr. M tries to convince Bentley that he is just a tool used by Sly and not a real friend.
One could also argue that there is a theme of knowing your limits. The Cooper Gang has been able to achieve some pretty impressive things before this, but with the task before them in this game they know they need more than the three of them. Now this could be more of a we need a reason to add more characters move than an intentional theme, but I’d still argue that it’s there.
- Another Sly Adventure – The Sly games have been an enjoyable series to get into. Likable characters, fun locations, and grand adventures make for a fun series. Sly 3 continues that tradition and delivers more Sly Cooper goodness.
- Tighter Experience – While for the most part Sly 2 improved upon the mechanics and flow from the first game, Sly 3 manages to make the experience even tighter. Some of the control issues I had with the second game didn’t make a reappearance in the third. Some things like automatically selling the items you pickpocket also makes for a little less unnecessary travel which is also nice.
- It’s Personal Again – While Sly 2 had a story that had higher stakes, the way it was executed just didn’t work for me anyhow. With Sly 3 they somewhat returned to making the story seem more personal to Sly. While it doesn’t make the stakes very high, after all they’re just wanting to get into the Cooper family vault, I thought it flowed much better than the second outing.
- Too Many Characters? – I understand some of the reason to add new characters and everything too the mix, but I wonder if the addition of four new characters to the team was really necessary. They made it work, but when the theme seemed so centered around the unity of Sly, Bentley, and Murray it felt weird to have so many extras.
- Don’t Have a Clue – For this game they removed the clue bottles and the vaults which I didn’t know what I thought about. On the one hand I welcomed it because trying to find them could be a bit tedious. On the other, it was kind of fun to find them all and use them to open a vault with some new ability. Doing that was more enjoyable and seamless to the world than the master thief challenges they added.
- Nothing to See Here – Honestly, nothing stuck out as being fully bad in this game. Overall it lacked anything that I didn’t like at all, just some things I was a bit mixed on.
Even though I didn’t play through the adventures of Sly Cooper and his band of thieves until late they have all been enjoyable to play. Sly Cooper 3: Honor Among Thieves is no exception to this. In fact I might even put it as the best game out of the first three. It had a story that I’d say was almost as strong as the first, with smoothed out gameplay and tight control. It maybe got a little heavy on supporting cast, but I still think they made it work well. Even if the games may be a bit older, I’d recommend Sly 3 and really the whole Sly Collection for anyone looking for some nice E rated fun that everyone in the family can enjoy.