Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time makes a near-perfect getaway on the go (PS Vita)
A few days ago, I reviewed the PlayStation 3 version of Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time, Sanzaru Games' long-awaited follow-up to Sucker Punch's original trilogy. Despite some lengthy load times and occasional gameplay quirks (SIXAXIS? Really?), it's a worthy successor for the franchise, and one with the opportunity to grow if Sony doesn't mess up the advertising first. But how does the wily thief fare with his debut on the PlayStation Vita? Not bad at all, despite some attempts to incorporate the system's capabilities.
The plot line and setting are the same as the PS3 brethren, with Sly and his cohorts -- a wheelchair-bound Bentley and a toughened-up Murray -- traveling through time to help his various ancestors. At the same time, they're battling an evil maniac who's looking to change history for his own benefit. What follows is a thrilling adventure that spans throughout various locales, from the Wild West to feudal Japan to a spectacular showdown.
Sanzaru Games isn't shy in passing around the chance to play as all characters, and they really bring something special in their own right. Sly is, as usual, the best of the bunch, able to sneak around ledges and climb pipes with ease when he's not striking foes with his cane. Murray, in full Hulk Hogan mode, pounds enemies with slams and fists and can also throw objects to knock out alarms. Bentley gets around quite smoothly, using his wheelchair to strike enemies with a spin attack while also activating jump boosters and chucking bombs to get through doorways. Finally, a variety of Sly's ancestors jump in, each offering something unique to the adventure. The controls are outstanding and just as reliable as the original games.
In addition, Sanzaru threw in a number of fun mini-games to liven things up, including a classic twin-stick shooting hack game and even a dancing mini-game with Murray in full-on geisha gear. These games are really something special, although a few require the usage of the PS Vita's capabilities, and could've been done without. For instance, the gyroscopic "lead the breaker into the circuit" game? Didn't really need it.
As far as presentation goes, the Vita did lose a little bit of the graphic luster in the transition, but not enough to throw you off. The graphics are still delightful, with little bits of detail poking around the corners of each vast open-world level you visit, and the animations are charming, whether it's someone from your own team or a nasty boss villain. We like the boss encounters as well, though the final one will definitely get on your nerves until you figure things out. The audio is sharp too, with plenty of great voice acting (Murray's a hoot) and jazzy music to make you feel like you're in the middle of the heist. The only downfall is that, like the PS3 version, Sly Cooper on the Vita has some lengthy load times. Prepare to wait a while.
It's hard to complain about the Vita version of Sly Cooper, especially considering its price. On its own, it's about $30, but you can pay $10 more and get the PS3 version as well, which comes with a downloadable Vita game. It's 3.5 GB -- not too bad on the data considering the PS3 version is around 17 GB -- and Cross-Save works like a breeze, in case you feel like playing in the comfort of your home.
The Vita-related stuff needed to be left out (when will these developers learn that basic gameplay gets the job done for on-the-go?), and the loading times leave something to be desired, but Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time still makes a smooth getaway on the portable front. This should be added to everyone's collection, no matter what format you prefer.