At first I was very surprised when Sony removed the backwards compatibility from their newer PlayStation 3 consoles. Sure, the extra hardware to make it work was overkill, but emulation must surely have been on a level to keep it in as a software feature? The PS3 is arguably the most potent piece of console hardware and it cannot emulate previous-gen game systems? Fail! (PSA: Saying ‘Fail’ is ‘Fail’ – Ed)
But then it recently became very clear as to Sony’s strategy: “Rather than include the functionality to play PlayStation 2 games you already own, let’s wrap them up in a new and higher resolution, stick them on a Blu-ray (they are so cool anyway!) and sell them again as compilations.”
Sony has done this with the God of War games, and Ubisoft has also released the Prince of Persia trilogy as downloadable games, soon to be joined by the Splinter Cell trilogy. Sucker Punch has also recently released the Sly Cooper trilogy in a new HD jacket and shiny new shoes.
Sucker Punch is famous these days for their game inFamous (see what I did there?) but they had their roots with a furry animal platform game. This seems to be a trend for Sony’s studios: just look at Naughty Dog with their Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter games. Sly Cooper may not have been as popular as the Naughty Dog games, but they sure were a lot of fun back then. Amazingly, they stayed pretty fresh over the last few years.
Sly Cooper is a raccoon and Master Thief. His best friends are a turtle and a hippo. Together they travel from one exotic location to the next, doing what thieves do best: solve mysteries! Yes, yes, they steal along the way too, but the overarching plot about secret thieve societies, megalomaniac enemies and foxy detectives (no, she really is a fox) is far more engaging.
The first game in the trilogy does a great job of introducing you to the world of Sly. The dark yet cartoony environments are beautifully rendered, and often you don’t even notice that the game you’re playing is nearly 10 years old. The animation is as smooth as most games on the current generation of consoles, and the controls are probably smoother. The gameplay mechanics feel strangely fresh and even though caper games are plentiful now, the original is still best. This goes to show that a great game does not need great power to be accomplished, only great design.
Sly and his gang of orphan friends are recovering pages from an old book handed down from generation to generation in Sly’s family. He is constantly being chased by his nemesis, a female detective named Carmelita Fox.
The second game, ‘Band of Thieves,’ shows how Sucker Punch is leading up to the inFamous games with bigger worlds, a bit darker atmosphere and a more grown up storyline. The game also plays really well and even though some of the arcade shooter elements feel a little tacked on, it adds to the overall variety. This game does not feel like it ever repeats any of the set pieces.
This time around Sly is not only trying to solve the mystery of the Clockwerk, a machine broken into multiple powerful pieces, but he also needs to evade Carmelita Fox, as well as her new assistant and a rival gang called the Klaww.
Third time lucky
Finally, ‘Honor Among Thieves’ concludes the trilogy with levels that are far bigger, with multiple routes to the end. The animation is smoother than the previous games (if that was even possible) and the way the music is incorporated into Sly’s movements needs to be experienced to be appreciated. Sly resembles Cole from inFamous a little in the way he slides on cables and sneaks on rooftops, yet the cute nature of the cell-shaded graphics never lets you forget that this is a Sly Cooper game.
Sly learns about a family vault with endless riches – apparently what his family has been hoarding over hundreds of years. But he’s not the only one who is after it, obviously! A new nefarious villain enters the storyline, and Sly’s gang is still trying to escape the equally sly Detective Fox.
The trilogy is nicely presented in High Definition graphics, with the visuals and sound as crisp as ever – it would be interesting to dig up an old copy of Sly Cooper and see how it holds up against its new HD brother. The game runs perfectly smoothly. The models are a little blocky and the level design might seem a bit sparse compared to the intricately detailed levels of current games, but does not detract anything. In fact, it adds character and a sense of ‘if it’s not there it was not needed.’
Voice acting is really well done all throughout the trilogy and makes you wonder how this sort of talent has been watered down in recent games. It’s a pet gripe of mine to have bad voice acting and to have it coupled with bad lip syncing is almost as bad as having level after crate-filled level in a game. But it’s refreshing to hear such good acting and the lip syncing can be forgiven because of the cartoony look to everything.
As an added extra in the HD Trilogy you also get a bunch of mini-games for the PS3 Move controller, which are ultimately forgettable. A more intriguing feature, however, is the 3D mode which I am not fortunate enough to possess yet, but reports are coming in that this is the ultimate mode to enjoy Sly’s adventures in. These features are not a deal sealer, and this game should be in any classic game collection.
A trilogy in 4 parts?
The Sly Trilogy is a collection of titles that proves that some games can grow old gracefully. It also leads up to the inevitable Sly Cooper 4 game and will do enough to prickle both old memories and fresh intrigue for the new title. It’s suitable for all ages in my opinion, and is a nice way for kids to get into more serious gaming. It also proves excellent value for money!
- The Good: Classic games that still feels fresh today
- The Bad: Silly Move games
- The Ugly: A turtle in a wheelchair? Shame man!