Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves Review

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Graphics: 8.0
Sound : 8.0
Gameplay : 9.0
Multiplayer : 8.5
Overall : 8.7
Review by John K.
Some may say that game developers are trying to milk every last drop from the current crop of consoles, being ever-so-close to the release of the next generation. With games like Socom 3, Jak X: Combat Racing and Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, it’s certainly debatable whether or not these sequels will offer anything new over their predecessors. With Sly 3, developer Sucker Punch tried to expand the Sly universe with more characters, a more diverse story and new game modes. Have they succeeded? Read on to find out.

Sly 3 begins where Sly 2: Band of Thieves ended; Sly and his gang are somewhat broken up since Bentley, the thinker of the gang, had an accident that put him in a wheelchair. Murray, the force behind the team, blamed himself for Bentley’s accident and chose a more peaceful life without violence. Sly 3 starts with Sly and the gang trying to infiltrate a fortress set up by the evil Dr. M. The good Doctor has been trying to break the Cooper family vault, where Sly’s family has kept all the treasure they’ve acquired over the years. Breaking into the Cooper family vault has become an obsession for Dr. M., who built a fortress around it to keep everyone from opening the vault before he can.

This infiltration level also functions as a tutorial for those who haven’t played the previous Sly games. All of Sly’s moves are explained, like his ability to walk on ropes and wires, sneak alongside walls and use his cane. The controls are fairly simple; the ‘X’ button makes our stripe-tailed hero jump, and double jump when pressed again in mid-air. If close enough to an object Sly can interact with, you can press the ‘O’ button while in the air to make Sly walk on ropes and climb or stand on poles.

At the end of the tutorial level, Sly is caught and his life flashes before him. This is where the actual game begins, with levels where Sly has to recruit expert team members for the Sly family vault ‘heist.’ The game is virtually one big flashback to all the events leading up to the infiltration of the island where the vault is located as well as recruiting the needed team members to pull off the job.

Veterans of Sly 2: Band of Thieves will have no trouble adjusting to this third installment of the series. The five levels are, like in Sly 2, big cities where Sly and his gang have to finish a certain amount of objectives to ultimately recruit a new team member. The levels also function as a big environment where players can roam free and try to add to their wealth. With their newfound coins, players can buy upgrades and gadgets from the “Thiefnet” in the safe house to improve the different characters. The safe house is also where players can switch between the three main characters of the game.

Some objectives require you to play as a certain character to complete them, so it’s necessary to switch from time to time. The objectives are spread throughout the levels and are all linked together in some way. This makes the game more rewarding, since it won’t seem like you are doing filler missions that have nothing to do with your final goal. Objectives are laid out through the levels with special markers. Pressing the L3 button will focus attention to the closest marker, making it easier to find your next objective. The objective markers are also color coded so the player doesn’t have any trouble figuring out which character is needed for a certain objective. The final levels are certainly the most enjoyable. The overall game difficulty is fairly low, but in the final levels it gets increasingly harder to finish certain objectives. It’s a bit disappointing that only the last few levels of the game have such depth, as players will have to play through quite a few levels to get to the more fun stages in Sly 3.

There’s a lot of diversity to be found in Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves. The normal platform sections are frequently interrupted by mini-games. These mini-games are essentially what make Sly 3 such a fun game and they all seem kind of familiar. For example, there’s a mini-game where you face off against a pirate in an insult contest (Monkey Island anyone?). Even though you might get that creeping feeling you’ve already played these mini-games in other titles, they don’t feel like a rip-off because Sucker Punch has tried to add the Sly twist to each of them. The mini-games offer a lot of variety to the gameplay and will most certainly keep any player interested in the game. Although the large range of mini-games make Sly 3 so much more entertaining, they more than often seem too short to truly enjoy. Just when you get the hang of the game it comes to an end, leaving you wanting more. Longer mini-games would have certainly made it look like a true addition to the game, rather than a gimmick to offer some variety and make Sly 3 less monotonous.

With Sly 3, the developer has introduced a new feature: 3D gameplay. In every level, there is one objective that can be played with 3D glasses. In the manual of the game, the 3D glasses are included and even designed to look like the eye-mask Sly wears in the game. 3D gameplay is optional and players will be asked if they want to use the 3D glasses where possible. In 3D levels, Sly and his companions will use their own special ‘optical enhancers’ that resemble the 3D glasses. 3D gameplay, however, is more of a publicity stunt, since it doesn’t really add much to the gameplay experience. When in 3D mode, some objects appear to be more in the foreground than others. The colors are lost in 3D mode and the game appears to be in black and white. When using the 3D glasses, the colors somewhat return, but are still not optimal. 3D mode seemed like a good idea, but perhaps it should have been worked out better.

Initially there are two multiplayer modes unlocked: Cops & Robbers and Co-op Hack. In the Cops & Robbers mode, one player is Sly and the other player is the police chief, and Sly’s love interest, Carmelita. Sly has to move through the level, trying to steal treasures that are spread out all over the place and place them on the beacons on rooftops. Carmelita has to stop Sly from stealing the treasure with her shock gun, or other weapons she gets via star shaped power-ups scattered in the level. Sly moves significantly slower than Carmelita, but has the ability to walk on ropes and climb poles. Power ups include rocked shoes, mega jump and heat seeking missiles.
Co-op Hack can remind players of the classic game “Asteroids”. The two players each get an aircraft and have to eliminate the hordes of enemies that come out of the openings on each side of the level. Weapons can be upgraded via power-ups that appear occasionally. Power-ups also include shields and a special beam that appears between both players and instantaneously kills enemies that touch the beam.

The two unlockable multiplayer modes are Biplane and Pirate Battle. In Biplane, the two players each get an airplane and have a dogfight. The first player who reaches 10 kills wins. There are also floating stars in the level that give power-ups. Pirate Battle is exactly what the title suggests; each player get a ship with various cannons and has to steer and shoot at the enemy ship. The first player that sinks the opposing ship wins. The ship also takes damage, so players have to repair their ship as they take hits. Shooting can’t be done infinitely, as the cannons have a cool-down period.

The first Sly game was a pioneer in cel-shaded video games. With Sly 3, the cel-shaded look has only improved and offers a sleek cartoon effect. The special effects fit excellently with the cartoon aesthetic of the game. Once levels have been completed, they can be played again in 3D most of the time. While this is a nice addition, the 3D gimmick is, as stated above, nothing to get too excited about. The character animations are fluid and a steady framerate is held throughout most of the game.

The music and sound effects in Sly 3 further enhance the cartoon ambiance. The music tracks are enjoyable and well composed, while the sound effects make the game sound like a classic cartoon. Tip-toed walking goes together with the classic ascending piano strokes and enemies get hit with a big ‘clunk’ sound. The voice acting is also done very vividly and makes the characters come to life. There’s a lot of dialogue in Sly 3, making the excellent voice acting crucial to keep players interested in the game.

Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves certainly isn’t an attempt to milk money from the successful Sly series. Sly 3 is a big improvement over its predecessor, like Sly 2 was over the original. The new story, variety in gameplay and even the 3D levels make Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves a definite hit and worth any gamers while.