We go hands-on with the Vita version of Sly's latest caper to see how well it makes the jump to the small screen.
Developer: Sanzaru Games
Release Date: Fall 2012
Platform(s): PS3, Vita
Fun fact: Sly will be celebrating his 10th anniversary this year. Crazy, huh? The last game in the series was also released almost seven years ago. Definitely high time for a return, and last year Sanzaru Games, whom you may know for their work on The Sly Collection, unveiled a new entry in the series: Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. There was a bit of apprehension at the realization creator Sucker Punch wasn't taking the reins, but Sanzaru has so far proven the game to be in more than capable hands.
This fourth entry follows the gang as they venture through time, pulling off heists alongside Sly's many ancestors along the way. In the demo I played, the two locations shown were in the Midieval England and Feudal Japan, the former played as Sly and the latter played as his Japanese forebear Rioichi. Neither showed any hub-world action, unfortunately.
The first level I got to see was with Rioichi, in which he moves about his sushi restaurant to retrieve his knives. Occupied now by large boars, no doubt serving some greater villain, he has to quietly make his way through the building and pickpocket the cleavers from the guards carrying them. Being spotted by stepping into their line of sight, as shown by the pool of light emanating from their flashlights (or some similar device), or breaking nearby objects fails the mission.
It's classic Sly gameplay at its best: sneaking around through use of all manner of acrobatics, pulling off a few acts of larceny all the while. Movement is as smooth as ever -- with the press of a button (that is, the circle button), Sly and his ilk will latch onto the nearest sparkling object. The lights (referred to as some sort of aura) mark what can and can't be used. The color differs from character to character, Sly seeing blue while Rioichi sees bronze, for example.
The other level saw Sly traversing a circus tent rife with traps and lots of tightrope walking. His objective here is to rescue his ancestor Sir Galleth Cooper from captivity of some sort, I assume. (He wasn't tied up or anything. Just sitting around in a jester's uniform looking downtrodden.) Sly makes his way there by shooting arrows with rope attached to them at clearly specified targets, which were guided by tilting the Vita about (I presume the Sixaxis will be in effect on PS3), thus forming a makeshift way forward. Sly does this by donning a Robin Hood costume, a new feature for this installment. Costumes are level-specific items that grant Sly different abilities that range from aforementioned to combat and stealth aides, such as the samurai costume shown last year.
The game made the jump to the Vita, nicely. There wasn't any noticeable frame rate differences between version, nor any dip in graphical quality. Looks like a literal portable version of the console game. The auras were a touch difficult to spot on the Vita, however, as it blended in with the scenery at times making it almost invisible on the small screen. I and another person beside me had to ask for help because we couldn't get past the first room of the sushi house level because we couldn't immediately see the sparkles. A small problem, since we could spot them from then onward, but something to keep an eye on.
Sanzaru is still working out how to handle distribution of the two versions, as saves can be moved between them. Perhaps they'll include a code for the Vita version with PlayStation 3 copies and vice versa? Whatever the case, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time has so far hits all the right points. It looks and feels like a Sly Cooper game. You probably wouldn't notice the change in developers were it not mentioned, actually. Game is currently set for a fall release.
Callum Rakestraw, NoobFeed.