Sly Cooper the raccoon who’s also a legendary thief descended from thieves, Bentley the exceptionally intelligent turtle and The Murrrrrrrray a big pink hippo filled with desire and undeniable strength. These 3 misfits actually form a great team of world-renowned specialist thieves who’re constantly being chased by the very attractive Inspector Carmelita Fox whilst performing heists and well thought-out schemes. Now I’m not gonna do a review of all 3 games as that would be time-consuming so instead I will summarise all 3 games into the usual categories to give you an understanding of how good each of these games are.
Our protagonists find themselves hunting down pages for the Thevius Raccoonus in the first game whilst defeating bosses all the while running from Inspector Fox which see’s the gang travel from one exotic location to another to collect new pages from increasingly more diverse antagonists. The second game sees you collect pieces from *someone* in the last game that more evil people try to steal for their own maniacal purposes. Whilst the 3rd game revolves around accessing the Cooper family vault filled with family heirlooms and unimaginable legendary wonders waiting for Sly to find. Now these stories certainly aren’t going to win any major awards for creativity and gripping emotional value, but they serve their purpose and at some points do become quite interesting. Along the way additional characters are available to use and it adds to the overall team theme. But for some reason I grew attached to these characters as they’re positive, entertaining and have distinct personalities and character. I always felt that if you don’t like your character or care for them then you will lose interest in the story; thankfully the gang form a good bond.
All 3 games are platformers, they revolve around you controlling one or more characters in open environments collecting things and trying to complete a level by eliminating enemies and negotiating traps and obstacles. The controls are lightweight and a joy to use as Sly’s physics make him move like the athletic ninja thief he looks like. Equally for Bentley too whilst Murray (who’re both controllable and frequently used too) feels heavier which is appropriate for his large body mass. Throughout all 3 games I never really felt challenged, occasionally I encountered a climbing section that required one or two more go’s but other than that the game is a dawdle. Not that it is a bad thing but I felt it to be one of the collection’s main flaws also with health becoming more user-friendly throughout the series. The first Sly game can be cruel at times because unless you have a shiny horseshoe, which can allow either one or two more hits, Sly can only be hit once and it’s death for him resulting in a loss of a life. But even if you use all your lives the penalty is simply replaying the whole level from the beginning with a whole new set of lives! Sly 2 and 3 however, make things easier as it’s now a health meter allowing up to about 5 or 6 hits with health to recuperate the lost health. Whether or not you’re new to platformers you should never encounter anything taxing across all 3 games. Now the collecting aspect is very positive, as the first 2 games have you collecting clue bottles scattered throughout the various levels. Upon collecting all bottles for a level you can unlock a designated safe containing a new power-up or skill move to make your abilities progress.
Astoundingly the bottles are absent from the 3rd entry and removes any collecting which for a platformer is perplexing as it loses the credibility of being a platformer and I was certainly disappointed they didn’t include this. Another minor issue was that the 2nd game repeated itself a lot as each HUB world consisted of a quick reconnaissance mission of taking photos followed by planning the operation and finally performing it. By continually doing this repetition starts to sink in and you lose the sense of excitement as you know what to expect. Along with the brilliant fun gameplay (physics) you get additional challenges to complete on top of the main story missions in the 3rd game (plus the ability to replay any missions you enjoyed).
For this HD classics game you get extra content in the form of Playstation Move mini-games; now obviously they won’t be available to everybody but for the people who own Playstation move they’re a nice inclusion and I found them to provide some nice party fun for a while at least.
The HD classics are becoming renowned for their revitalisation of a games graphics by up scaling them to a much prettier 60 FPS (frames per second) in glorious high definition. The cartoonish cel-shaded effects look cute and Sly’s devilishly smooth blue tone look cool like the charismatic raccoon he is. The scenic environments do range from a bright chirpy Caribbean island fit for pirates to a dilapidated village with a charcoal palette skyline. Some of the textures still look a bit crooked and a few of the characters look unimaginative but visuals are certainly not an issue in any of the 3 games.
I particularly enjoyed the voice acting as it truly sold the characters for me and the voices really seemed to reflect the characters own persona such as the bosses having evil and ominous sounding voices to suit their intimidating personalities. But the cooper gang are superb; Sly’s voice is cool and calm all the time and never lets any anger out as he is the leader who dare not show negative emotion. Murray has an aggressive tone that sounds really deep and rugged, but the highlight is Bentley’s voice which is the typical nerdy sounding kid at school that even when he tries to be angry just winds up sounding ridiculous and out of his depth; he produces some emotional performances at times and is essential to the sound. However an annoying gripe is Carmelita who has a new voice actress for each game ranging from quite an attractive American voice for the 2nd game to a more foreign based accent for the 3rd game. By not keeping the continuity for a recurring and common character it just dampens the experience a little bit as I felt like I had to get to know a new Carmelita in the same body. The music is in keeping with the spy like theme that is prominent through the games as you walk around to slow jazz music worthy of an inclusion in the Mission Impossible soundtrack. Sound effects are enjoyable too as they are included in different experiences such as creeping around and a bass note audible clip for each footstep taken. A nice little touch is the clue bottles emitting a small tapping sound to imply that one is close by as it draws you in with its playful clinking sound.
+Simple and enjoyable stories
+Playstation Move mini-games are a great addition
+Soundtrack is delightful and sound effects are a joy to listen to
-Removal of features such as the clue bottles
In conclusion the collection is a more than worthy addition to the ever expanding HD Classics franchise. You have 3 games that are packed with altogether about 20-30 hours of platforming fun made more enjoyable by appropriate physics and character personalities alike. I honestly believe, like me, you won’t feel challenged for the majority of your adventures but simple stories that display affection along with character personalities that will genuinely make you care for them should see you coast through the said stories. The charming soundtrack invites mystery and is usually fitting for your predicament whether it’s bottle to find or cursing at Carmelita’s once sexy voice!
The Sly Collection is out now for PlayStation 3.
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