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Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves Review

Developer: Sucker Punch Publisher: SCEA
Release Date: September 27, 2005 Also On: None

Sly Cooper has been the odd man out for the past few years in the vault of Sony Computer Entertainment of America’s platformers. Ratchet and Clank, along with Jak and Daxter have been the lead franchises for Sony’s platforming image. While Ratchet and Clank is my personal favorite of the three, Sly 3 comes into 2005 with no competition. In that regard, Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves is the best platformer of the year on any platform.

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If you missed Sly 2, Bentley was hospitalized after the final battle with Clockwerk. Now confined to a wheelchair, Murray felt that he was responsible for the accident, leaving the team, dedicated to a path of non-violence, guided by the aboriginal guru. Sly and Bentley seek to recruit Murray to help them unlock the fortune of the Cooper family, along with help from new characters and old foes.

The new characters, along with the existing gang, form the single-player experience. If you liked the swinging, sliding, and platforming from the original Sly, you might be disappointed to learn that Sly 3, like Sly 2, but more frequently, has you play as the rest of the team, consisting of Bentley and Murray. You’ll also play as Murray’s mentor, the guru aborigine, among other new characters, and for the first time, Inspector Carmelita Fox, the cop always on Sly’s tail.

The game’s selling point has three main points: several playable characters with varied gameplay, two-player multi-player, and 3D gameplay. I’ll get to the latter two later on in this review. Each of the playable characters has their own special abilities. Sly can run fast, he’s agile, can reach high places, and can fight when he needs to. Bentley is simply the brains; when you play as him, you can spin attack with your wheel chair, use sleeping darts, and bombs. Most of his missions either involve hacking or a puzzle. “The Murray�, as he calls himself, is the brawn, fighting with his fists, throwing enemies, etc.

The new playable characters all have their own specialty. For instance, the guru can use mind-control. His missions seem more tacked on than all of the others, because they involve ramming guards into something. Ram a guard into miner equipment, ram a guard into a generator, ram a guard into a helicopter, control a wolf and eat fighter pilots; it all feels like much of the same. Carmelita, meanwhile, will have shooting missions.

The levels that you’ll play in span the entire globe; from the streets and canals of Venice, to the outback, the windmills of Holland, and to the frigid Chinese mountainside. Each level comes packed with its own array of guards, unique structures, themes, and artistry, etc. All of this compliments the game well, especially how they have condensed gameplay by combining missions; what would have been two or three missions in Sly 2 is now one large mission in Sly 3, saving the hassle of running all over on the map.

One of the reasons that missions seem condensed is because there is no more “handing the baton�. When you engage in a mission, there’s likely a certain goal, such as framing two competing fighter teams of sabotaging a plane and stealing an item. In such a mission, you’ll play as Sly to collect a helmet, which identifies the Icelanders. Then using the guru, you’ll ram a truck carrying a safe. You’ll take the helmet, replacing it with what’s inside the safe, then sabotage the other team’s plane with Murray. Even though you’re only controlling one character at a time, there’s a sense of teamwork involved.

I’ll go ahead and explain another game situation from earlier in the game in the outback. Playing as Sly, Murray, and Bentley, you’ll compete in a lemonade chugging competition. You need to press the triangle, circle, X, square button fast to drink the lemonade quickly. Once the lemonade is consumed, the next person in the line will begin drinking until everyone’s drunken their beer and all the beer is gone.

After Bentley finishes his, the guys you beat accuse him of cheating, spilling more than drinking. A brawl ensues between them and the gang. You’ll play as Murray first, in a wheelchair, dropping bombs, jumping, and hitting. You’ll switch to Sly for some quick hitting action. Then finally you play as Murray, the fists (and belly) of the group. Teaming up, you’ll fight the boss; Bentley will place bombs, and you, as Sly will need to lure him. Once stunned, you hit him. Murray will throw barrels once the boss is in a close enough proximity. Again, once you stun him, you need to hit him multiple times.

The game situation described above is common in that your team will coordinate in most missions. It’s also common to find the missions, including some bosses, easy to beat. Unless you die for a stupid reason like falling into water, you’ll rarely find the need to restart a level. The lack of challenge in this game is my biggest complaint. Yet at the same time, remembering Sly 2 being frustratingly difficult at times, I don’t know which is worse.

Another boss battle, this one far more entertaining, has you face against a Chinese warrior known as Tsao. You’ll fight by air, swinging your hook at Tsao, avoiding his fire balls. The game has you jump from the tops of bamboo sticks. You’ll ‘fly’ across the level Crouching Tiger-style and are allowed to change direction once. Once you defeat Tsao, you’ll land in a forest with the bamboo and a stream. This time you’ll need to beat Tsao using melee attacks, while avoiding a pound attack, his sword, and a summoned dragon. These two boss sequences are some of the best in recent memory.

The replay value comes from the ability to replay any mission. This means you’ll have to beat it in a certain time limit, which can prove challenging in some instances, but there’s little incentive for actually going back and playing these. You could always decide to replay missions using the 3D glasses that come with Sly 3, that admittedly feels gimmicky, but still a nice touch and attempt to be different from the pack. Then of course there’s the multi-player, which should add hours of replay value to those interested.

So, which is better: Sly 2 or Sly 3? It’s a tough call to make. The streamlined missions are good, the multi-player works well, and the graphics are as good as ever. The bad: Carmelita Fox has a new voice-actor, some of the missions just don’t catch my interest (i.e. paddling Murray in a raft), and some of the new characters (namely the guru) just don’t have enough mission variety. None of these complaints, however, should stop you from renting or buying this game. Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves is another achievement from the creative team at Sucker Punch.

Graphics: 9.5
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 9.1
Written by Kyle Review Guide