Friday, January 1, 2021

Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves


Dishonor Among Sequels

I’ve made it a point in recent time to broaden my gaming horizons beyond roleplaying games, and as I still have my PlayStation 3, decided to try some of the hypothetical non-RPG “classics” on the system, among them being the HD remasters of the first three Sly Cooper games, which I thought I would enjoy given my involvement in the furry fandom. I thought the first game was okay, but the series seemed to experience a bit of a sequel slump, given the many issues with the first sequel’s remaster, but given my quest to ensure I finished every game before reviewing it, forced myself through the third game, Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, which unfortunately inherits many flaws from its precursors.

The third entry begins in medias res, raccoon protagonist Sly Cooper and his chief cohorts, the turtle Bentley and the hippopotamus Murray, accessing the master thief’s family vault, the events leading to the encounter playing out. The narrative style is similar to the game’s two predecessors, with each episode opening with backstory of the villains, and Sly’s family receives excellent development towards the end, although there are a great many recycled elements from the game’s precursors, many cutscenes lack subtitles, and the script has plenty of grammatical errors that even a middle-schooler could discern.

The gameplay unfortunately doesn’t fare any better, with a great emphasis on different playable characters including Sly and his cohorts, plenty of unavoidable minigames in the mix that the player lamentably has to beat to advance the storyline, with a notable dearth of anti-frustration features such as mid-mission checkpoints, and a great degree of repetition. Some of the moves are fun to mess around with, with new ones buyable at whatever locale Sly and his gang choose to make their makeshift headquarters, but Sly 3 marks one of few times a game has actually made me perspire, and is generally unenjoyable.

Control doesn’t fare any better, although there are some bright spots such as the ability to get waymarks in case the player finds himself or herself lost, which eliminates the need to play the game with a guide. Still, tasks such as viewing total playing time are needlessly difficult, and Sly 3 doesn’t indicate when the game is saved, making difficult quitting and resuming where the player left off. The horrid jumping puzzles don’t help, either, and the controls for many minigames are incredibly awkward. In the end, the third entry doesn’t interact with players very well.

The third game fares best aurally, with a film noir-esque soundtrack that fits the tone of the game well, with decent voice acting, particularly regarding the cool, confident Sly Cooper and the professional-wrestler-esque Murray, though Bentley is still annoying.

Unfortunately, Sly 3 doesn’t fare as well visually, with the cel-shaded character models containing a great degree of blockiness, along with blurry, pixilated environmental textures. The high point is the occasional slightly-animated static cutscene that advances the plotline.

Finally, the third entry will last players somewhere from twelve to twenty-four hours, with theoretical lasting appeal in the form of Trophies and a completion percentage, though frankly, the game isn’t short enough, or enjoyable enough to invest supplemental playtime into.

Overall, Sly 3 is at best a disappointing, anticlimactic conclusion to The Sly Collection, given the various frustrations in its gameplay and control that actually drove me to perspiration at times, the rehash by the story of certain narrative elements from preceding games, and the sub-par visuals that look more at home on the PlayStation 2. It does have some minor bright spots in the form of its aural presentation, but my negative experience with the game makes me highly reluctant to try anything that Sucker Punch produces in the future, let alone the fourth game in the franchise.

The Good:
+Some fun parts of gameplay.
+Story is well-developed at points.
+Good sound.

The Bad:
-Not short enough.
-Frustrating mechanics and control.
-Story rehashes elements from past games.
-Sub-par visuals.

The Bottom Line:
Not a good end to The Sly Collection.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PlayStation 3
Game Mechanics: 2.5/10
Controls: 2.5/10
Story: 3.5/10
Music/Sound: 7.5/10
Graphics: 4.0/10
Lasting Appeal: 1.0/10
Difficulty: Artificial
Playing Time: 12-24 Hours

Overall: 3.5/10

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