Sly Cooper is back, and brings a new wardrobe along with the usual array of great levels and humour along with him in the stealthy raccoon's latest endeavour, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time.
For fans of the series, the fourth entry in this celebrated action-platform franchise has been a long time coming. Announced last year via a teaser trailer included with the Sly Collection, Thieves in Time is the result of developer Sanzaru's attempt to prove to Sony that they can take the reins while series creator Sucker Punch is busy with InFamous.
Fans shouldn't panic though. The classic mechanics are back, with staples such as sneaking, stealing and traversing rooftops all woven into the core experience. However, we now have the added bonus of Sanzaru lovingly taking all the core Sly mechanics and updating them utilizing the extra processing power afforded by the PlayStation 3. For example, there are now more than just two vertical planes in each area, allowing more options and routes to complete objectives. The blue sparkles are back to remind you where you can jump and climb, and the developers demonstrated what they called a "classic" Sly moment of having to figure out a way to avoid a guard and his flashlight, where the sparkles gave our hero a clever nudge in the right direction.
This was where the new mechanics came into play. The disguises all have their own special abilities, like a Samurai Suit that deflects fire balls or a pirate outfit that slows down time. The Samurai armor in particular you have to collect from enemies around the level, where the new objective compass rears its head. Simply pressing R3 will bring up an arrow around Sly showing the direction (both vertically and horizontally) to your next point of interest.
Starting off in the hub world, the developers also showed off the new trophy wall, displaying the collectibles that you've found on your journey. These will lead to unlockables later on, so they're well worth searching around for. We then entered a level based around feudal Japan, where a noticeably aged and slightly tougher Sly has to make his way into a tower using the aforementioned stolen Samurai armor. At the end of the level, he battles a cigar-chomping Tiger Ninja called El Hefe voiced by none other than Mr Nathan Drake himself, Nolan North, who joins the returning voice cast from the original games. The boss battle itself was obviously inspired by scraps from the original Sly Cooper, with timing and pattern memorisation required to come out on top. The level was destroyed in real-time around Sly as he whittled down Hefe's health, another feature that Sanzaur decided on due to the nature and power of these battles.
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is due out exclusively on PS3 in 2012. For now at least, you can rest easy in the knowledge that the heroic raccoon is in capable hands.