Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time
|Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time|
North American cover art
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Programmer(s)||Jenny Spurlock |
|Genre(s)||Platform, stealth, action-adventure|
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is a platform stealth video game, the fourth title of the Sly Cooper series. Thieves in Time is available on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. Though the original series was developed by Sucker Punch Productions for the PlayStation 2, this game was developed by Sanzaru Games, who had previously ported the original games into high-definition versions for the PlayStation 3. The game was teased in these versions, but it was not formally announced until several months later at the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo during Sony's presentation on June 6, 2011.
The game, set in a world populated by anthropomorphic animals, follows from the end of Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves. Sly Cooper, a raccoon from a long line of master thieves, will need to reunite with his gang to repair the Thievius Raccoonus, a book chronicling the Cooper family line whose pages have been affected by a villain traveling through time. The player controls Sly, Bentley, Murray, Carmelita Fox, and Sly's ancestors, using their skills to pull off heists and reveal who is putting the Cooper history in a jam. This game is also a part of Sony's "Cross Buy" initiative, allowing purchasers of the PlayStation 3 version of the game to receive a free copy of the game for the PlayStation Vita via the PlayStation Network.
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time was met with a generally positive critical reception upon release. Most critics praised the varied gameplay, the characters, level design, and the story, but criticized the long load times, questionable motion controls, and the controversial cliffhanger ending.
Like previous games in the series, players primarily control Sly Cooper, who must sneak around and navigate various obstacles to help restore the history of the Thievius Raccoonus. Many of Sly's abilities return, such as navigating poles and ropes, jumping across narrow platforms and stealing items from guards. New to this game are costumes earned throughout the course of the game, which give Sly access to new abilities. Examples include a suit of armor that allows Sly to reflect projectiles with a shield, an archery outfit that lets him shoot arrows at targets to create rope lines, and an Arabian pirate-like suit that allows him to slow down time and use a sword to break sturdy objects. These costumes can be taken to previously visited levels to reach secret areas.
New secret masks and treasures are hidden throughout the game; the latter item, unlike its counterpart in previous installments, is collectible only and cannot be sold on the game's ThiefNet service (although the player still receives an in-game monetary reward). The clue bottles from Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus and Sly 2: Band of Thieves make a return, allowing the player to unlock new abilities for all of the playable characters. A new feature allows anyone who owns both the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 3 versions of the game to use the Vita system as "a set of x-ray goggles" to find any of these hidden collectibles anywhere in the world, through the use of augmented reality. The binary characters displayed during Bentley's plans are ASCII-encoded text messages and can be decoded manually.
Bentley, Murray, and Carmelita Fox return as playable characters, along with some of Sly's ancestors, who each possess unique abilities. Worlds in the game are claimed to be three times the size of the original trilogy. The game also supports stereoscopic 3D and local multiplayer in some sections of the game.
Thieves in Time follows from the conclusion of Honor Among Thieves; Sly is faking amnesia to be with his love interest Carmelita, Murray is racing with the team van, and Bentley and Penelope are constructing a time machine. However, the words began vanishing from the pages of the Thievius Raccoonus, and Penelope disappears, so Bentley reforms the gang to repair the damage to the Coopers' history and find out who is responsible. Meanwhile, Carmelita discovers Sly's deception after she catches him robbing an art museum to steal the Feudal Japan-era dagger to get to Feudal Japan, and wants to permanently get her hands on him for lying to her.
The team begins their time-traveling journey in Feudal Japan, where they rescue Rioichi Cooper, a ninja and the inventor of sushi. After a showdown with El Jefé, a Cuban military strategist tiger who overthrew several small countries and sold them to the highest bidder, Rioichi's cane is stolen. In the Wild West, the gang breaks outlaw Tennessee "Kid" Cooper, who was framed for bank robbery before he had started, out of jail. They also discover Carmelita being held hostage by Toothpick, a self-proclaimed "gunslinger" armadillo posing as the town's new sheriff, under the orders of a black-market art dealer skunk named Cyrille Le Paradox, who sent her back in time to impede her investigation of him. The gang, however, gets captured as well.
After the rescue, they manage to defeat Toothpick, but unforeseen complications cause them to be sent to the Ice Age. Carmelita is still very upset at Sly. A cave-raccoon nicknamed "Bob" teams up with the gang to stop The Grizz, an art thief bear forging cave paintings. After much thought, Carmelita finally decides to help the gang in order to stop Le Paradox and return home. They then travel to Medieval England, where they recruit Sir Galleth of The Knights of the Cooper Order, a knight with a flair for the dramatic. They confront the tyrant Black Knight in control of the area, but are shocked to discover it is actually Penelope, who believes Sly is a negative influence on Bentley and provided Le Paradox with a means of traveling through time. This revelation sends Bentley into a deep depression, but eventually overcomes it and arrives just in time to save the gang from Penelope.
The gang finally catches up to Le Paradox in Ancient Arabia with the help of Salim Al-Kupar, the last active member of the Forty Thieves, and battle Ms. Decibel, a "music snob" elephant with the power of hypnosis. Le Paradox's plan is eventually revealed: forge documents in the past depicting a fake royal lineage to expand his fortune and influence, and steal the Cooper ancestors' canes as revenge for his own family's misfortune as thieves. As a final insult to Sly, he kidnaps Carmelita.
The gang returns to present-day Paris, now under Le Paradox's control. Using Carmelita as bait, Le Paradox captures Sly. However, Bentley, Murray, and a team of Cooper ancestors retrieve the missing canes and free them just as Le Paradox inadvertently rips a hole in the space-time continuum. Finally reconciling with Carmelita, Sly sends everyone home just before entering a final showdown with Le Paradox atop his blimp, ending with Le Paradox falling into the sea. The various villains are sent to prison, though Penelope escapes and remains at large. However, though Le Paradox was later found and incarcerated, Sly was trapped aboard the blimp and has disappeared, saddening everyone, especially Carmelita. Despite this, the gang vows to do whatever it takes to find him, no matter when or where he is.
If all trophies are collected, a secret ending shows Sly waking up, surrounded by the wreckage of Le Paradox's blimp in front of a jackal-headed temple and pyramids in Ancient Egypt, hinting at the possibility of a sequel, though Sanzaru later stated they have no intentions of making one.
Thieves in Time was developed by Sanzaru Games, who previously developed The Sly Collection, PlayStation 3-enhanced versions of the first three Sly Cooper games. According to Sanzaru's Glen Egan, the developers were interested in developing the Sly Cooper franchise further after Sucker Punch Productions, the original developer, had moved on to the Infamous series. They worked out a prototype game engine for the PlayStation 3 which they presented to Sony Computer Entertainment. Sony was impressed with the prototype and gave them the development duties for the PlayStation 3 conversion of the original trilogy, and then subsequently green-lit Thieves in Time.
Thieves in Time represents a return to the series after a near eight-year hiatus following the release of Sly 3. Several hints of the series' revival were previously included in both Infamous games by Sucker Punch. In addition to other nods to the series, such as Sly Cooper's calling-card logo patch on Infamous' protagonist Cole MacGrath's backpack in both games and the ability to use Sly's cane as an alternate melee weapon within Infamous 2, both games features marquees that included the title "Sly 4". A teaser trailer included in The Sly Collection, released in late 2010, titled "Sly 4", was believed to be an indication that a new game would soon be announced. The game was formally announced for PlayStation 3 during Sony's presentation at the 2011 E3 convention on June 6, 2011. A PlayStation Vita version was revealed on May 18, 2012 during the GTTV television show.
At Gamescom 2012, Sony Computer Entertainment announced the new Cross Buy program. Through this program, one could purchase the PS3 version of a game and receive the PS Vita version (provided one is available) completely free of charge through a code redeemable at the PS Vita's PlayStation Store, with Thieves in Time among the games supporting the program. A new trailer was also seen at Gamescom 2012, introducing Salim Al-Kupar as another confirmed ancestor and sending news that the release date had been pushed back to early 2013. Sony later clarified the release date to be in February 2013, stating that they didn't want Thieves in Time to release at the same time as all of the other games coming out in the fall of 2012; putting it in February would give it more prominence during the game's vital opening week with fewer big-name titles releasing at the same time.
A demo for the game is included on the North American version of the Ratchet & Clank Collection, which released on August 28; however, it only has a single mission to play. Another demo, including the Paris prologue, was released on January 22 for PlayStation Plus members and January 29 for everyone on both the PS3 and PS Vita. On September 21, 2012, ten years after Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus released, Sony announced Sly 4's release date to be February 5, 2013, and announced that those who preordered would gain early access to a special outfit for Murray and two Paraglider "skins" that are available to everyone else in game once a certain amount of "Secret Sly Masks" are collected.
The score for Thieves in Time was composed by videogame composer Peter McConnell (who also scored the previous 2 Sly games). McConnell composed more than 2.5 hours of music for this score in a wide variety of styles. All the music was recorded in Nashville by the Nashville Music Scoring orchestra at Ocean Way Studios. It is available on iTunes and the PlayStation Network.
Thieves in Time received generally positive reviews with most praising the quality of gameplay and voice acting. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the PlayStation Vita version 75.80% and 75/100 and the PlayStation 3 version 74.69% and 75/100 as of April 2013[update].
Game Informer gave the game a 9/10 rating and GameTrailers an 8/10 rating. IGN rated the game an 8.0/10, concluding that despite the "ridiculous load times, occasionally frustrating gameplay and some bizarre, archaic motion controls", Thieves in Time is "a worthy game to add to your library" as it "harkens back to a different time in gaming while modernizing the experience for a new generation". Lucas Sullivan from GamesRadar gave the game 4.5/5 score but point out the game has "lengthy (but infrequent) load times" and "cliffhanger ending" but saying the good points are "stellar presentation" and "excellent level design". GameSpot gave the game a 7.5 out of 10.
The creators of Sly Cooper at Sucker Punch Productions have expressed approval as well, stating on their Twitter account that they had "no problem handing over the Sly reigns [sic] to Sanzaru. Hope all enjoy it as much as we did." 
Thieves in Time was the 9th best selling retail game in the month of February 2013 in the United States.
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