Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time – E3 Impressions

After a handful of teases and hints, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time was finally revealed during Sony’s E3 conference. It’s been 6 years, and an entire console since we last saw the famous raccoon in action, so we borrowed a page from the Thevius Raccoonus and snuck behind closed doors to get a preview of the raccoon’s next adventure.

Thieves in Time picks up after the last Sly game leaves off. The three-man team reunites once more, following an undetermined fiasco which involves a time-machine that Bentley was constructing and the disappearance of the highly sought after book passed down through the Cooper family. The two demos we witnessed showcased Sly and Murray infiltrating a lair, which was complete with flashlight dodging, sparkling pathways, and sneaking along ledges to the soothing sound of a walking standup bass, and Sly facing off against the egomaniac boss, El Jeffe (voiced by Nolan North). Both sequences, for lack of a better compliment, appeared to be lost levels from the original team. I am always hesitant when new developers continue on an established series, especially one that so many fans grew up with and which ended with the highest praise of the series, but the team appears to have kept true to everything that makes the Sly games so unique.

The signature cartoony art style and dark, shadowy lighting made the whole thing look just like the original, albeit polished and refined now with the help of the improved hardware. We’re essentially just comparing PS2 graphics to the PS3’s, but characters and environments contained an unprecedented level of depth. Two examples of this they highlighted in the demo were Murray’s muscles, which the PS2 was just not able to accurately convey, and the depth of facial expressions on Sly. What they got right about the grand scheme they appear to have nailed with the small elements too, such as the music cues and effects and the witty dialogue and banter shared between the entire returning voice acting cast. At one point, Sly turns to the boss, El Jeffe, and asks him “Isn’t El Jeffe Spanish for Big Baby?”

With the token elements making their return, it was refreshing to see some fresh concepts thrown into the line-up. Costumes will play a serious role in the new game, giving Sly a unique ability with each outfit he dons. In the demo we saw, Sly puts on a pirate/gypsy costume and is able to slow down time for a short period of time. Expect these new elements to add further life to the game as additional paths open up when your wardrobe is complete.

It is great to see a development team take an interest in continuing another studio’s staple series, but it’s even better to see a team understand a series and stay true to the core of what makes it so beloved. However, with the amount of time the team spent with the first three games to create the HD collection, it’s understandable where their familiarity with the series comes from.

We can’t wait to see more, and get a first hand look at it in action!