Not so sly this time
Traveling in time seemed to work for Bill & Ted. Going to different periods in time meeting influential figures of history all while having the most excellent adventure. When Sly Cooper and his gang do this, all they seem to get is a lousy shirt with the saying, “I survived the mini-games and all I got was this t-shirt”.
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is the fourth game in the Sly Cooper series and is the first made for the current generation of Sony’s consoles. The previous developer of the series, Sucker Punch, is on the bench for Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. Instead, we see Sanzaru Games Inc, who handled the Sly Cooper HD Collection, get called up to pinch hit.
The story comes off as sound idea. Sly Cooper and his trusty gang of Bentley and Murray need to travel back in time to, with the help of Sly’s ancestors, prevent the pages of the family secrets in the Thievius Raccoonus from disappearing forever.
I was anxiously prepared to do some amazing platforming in different time periods while trying to solve the mystery of the Thievius Raccoonus. However, that anxiety turned into boredom when I ran into the main problem with Thieves in Time. There are too many mini-games.
The only platforming you do for more than 30 minutes at a time seems to be in the overworld level where all there is for you to do is searching for collectibles. Doing that repetitive action almost exactly the same in each level is enough to send me to sleepy town. What makes this even worse is the fact that the pacing is broken. Play a mission for 25 minutes, loading screen for 40 seconds, hit a single button, another 40 second load screen, mini-game. Wash, rinse, repeat for the next 10 hours.
Even the well done cartoonish cutscenes couldn’t keep me from gritting my teeth in annoyance over the amount of mini-games in Thieves in Time. From a Rocky Balboa training montage to a twin-stick side-scrolling shooter and even Sixaxis motion controlled levels had me second guessing if I bought the right game or not. I had to check the case to make sure I didn’t buy a Wario Ware game.
Now I am not saying mini-games are terrible when they are put into video games. But when your franchise is known for great platforming more than the mini-games, making the mini-games the forefront of the design for gameplay is not welcomed.
At least you get the PS Vita version when you purchase it for the PS3 since Thieves in Time is part of Sony‘s “Cross-Buy” promotion initiative. In playing the Vita version, it felt like Sanzaru Games Inc developed Thieves in Time for the Vita and ported this version to the PS3. One can just look at the graphics on each system and tell that the PS2 quality graphics are a better fit on the smaller screen of the Vita. Too bad the Vita version has the same exact loading issues that plague the PS3 version.
The good news is you can use the cross-save option and only turn on the Vita to get all the trophies you unlocked in your playthrough on the PS3. So there’s that.
Taking what they learned in making the HD collection, Sanzaru Games Inc tried too hard to capture nostalgia with Thieves in Time. Simply taking everything from the previous games, including the graphics, and mashing them together into a mini-game collection seems like something that will never end well. The only thing Thieves in Time accomplished was stealing 10 hours of my life I will never get back.
Tested on PS3 (primary), Vita