The Sly Collection Review
Let's get something out of the way first: I enjoyed Sly Cooper on the PlayStation 2 and I enjoy Sly Cooper now. The Sly Collection for PS3 combines PS2 classics Sly 1, 2 and 3 onto a single Blu-Ray disc for your platforming pleasure. While Sucker Punch developed the originals, Sanzaru Games handled the PS3 port. No worries, it's still the same game you--as in the two or three of you who bought it the first time--fell in love with, but formatted for HD screens.
Much like Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, the Sly series is one of those well-loved, yet under-appreciated gaming adventures that made it's way to Sony's platform so many years ago. Those who play it will often love it, but it never seemed to get noticed in the tidal wave of fill-'em-with bullets action games. Asking most friends (even the gamers) if they have played Sly Cooper will often get you the "what the hell is that?" look. If you decide to show them the box with a cartoon raccoon, turtle and a big pink hippo, and most of them will lose interest immediately.
While the first game in the series, Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, feels rough and very old-school by today's standards, it's still a decent platformer. However, this is definitely not the game you should be playing if it's your first run with The Sly Collection. It's actually not a great representation of the awesomeness of its sequels. The game was released in 2002, so it had to show it's age sometime…turns out it was sometime before this collection hit stores.
Sly 2: Band of Thieves is where it gets truly awesome. The gameplay is improved while the addition of a life gauge makes the game much more forgiving by eliminating those annoying "Oh damn, I didn't have a horseshoe!" one-hit kills. The platforming is improved, and the presentation overall is many times better than the first. The first game tried to change up the action with racing sequences and other minigame-type levels, many of which could become frustrating. Sly 2 changes things up with cool recon missions such as spying and sneakily snapping photos of the bad guys doing bad guy things, and it all melds together well, never feeling as forced as it did in the first game.
Then there's Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, which is probably my favorite of the bunch. Events from the second game left one of the main characters confined to a wheelchair. For some reason, I always found that interesting about the Sly series. It was as if the characters grew with you. Rather than just seeing the exact same character models each time, recycled and unchanging, we saw them grow up and we saw their personalities evolve with each of the games. The opening portion of the game is still one of the best introductions I've played through. It gives the illusion of coordination required for one of those awesome heists you see in the movies.
Here's to hoping that this re-release will generate some interest in the series in time for Sly 4, but I wouldn't hold my breath--it launched with zero marketing. Well, there was the PlayStation Blog post with the headline, "The Sly Collection Sneaks onto PS3 November 9th," but I didn't know they meant it literally.
While I don't expect the game to be a top-seller, I recommend that anyone looking for some great platforming action pick up The Sly Collection. The first game, while good, definitely shows it's age, but the second and third are every bit worth it.