- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A crafty raccoon and his pals pilfer through the eons to save a family’s legacy in the third-person game Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (Sony Computer Entertainment America and Sanzaru Games, reviewed for Playstation 3 Rated E10+, $39.99).

The latest adventure tied to the decade-old franchise once again plunges a single player into a rich cartoon world where he controls and interacts with a collection of anthropomorphic animals.

When text from the legendary tome tied to the historical lineage of the Cooper clan, the Thievus Raccoonus, begins mysteriously dissolving, it’s up to Sly and mainly his famed cohorts — the braniac turtle Bentley, pink hippopotamus Murray and a special foxy female friend — to travel across time and stop a genealogical meltdown.

Within a stunning hand-painted look and cell-shaded, eye-popping design (even without the 3D turned on) Sanzaru Games maintains previous developer Sucker Punch Productions quality and presents familiar, humorous action mixing stealth, platforming around environmental obstacles, boss battles, mini-games, collecting and liberal amounts of thievery.

One can imagine the colorful canvas now painted for the younger player as he works through five extended cartoon episodes, played out upon large, free-roaming environments loaded with a variety of jobs tied to helping Sly’s ancestors.

Our master thief explores a 13th century English village in the PlayStation 3 video game Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time.
Our master thief explores a 13th century English village in the PlayStation ... more >

Specifically, after a jaunt in modern-day Paris, the gang travels back to the Wild West to break Tennessee Kid Cooper out of jail and medieval England to save Sir Galleth Cooper from the Black Tyrant’s clutches along with other visits to legendary time periods.

For example, while exploring 17th century feudal Japan, have Sly take recon photographs to scout out a fortress holding his relative. He uses the versatile Binocucom that zooms into snapshots as he quietly moves about rooftops.

Or, while in Japan, go fishing to help restock ninja restaurateur Rioichi Cooper’s Sushi bar. Manipulate a pole and magnetic line with the motion sensing Sixaxis controller.

And, even more outrageous, while helping Rioichi, Murray has to dress up as a Geisha girl while a player taps away on controller buttons to a rhythm-based music game to distract the guards.

Of course, enemies abound, always looking for intruders, in each area. Be it large steers packing heat, storks ready to clobber, cyborg wolves with flashlights, fire-breathing bats and really large spiders, Sly, Bentley and Murray have plenty of skills to survive and fight.

Our furry friend remains as fluid and acrobatic as ever. High-wire balancing and scaling, paragliding, traversing rooftops, crawling through tunnels, swinging, springing and climbing on poles and piping (with help from his hooked cane), he can silently infiltrate almost any structure. That cane also works well to smack a foe into submission or pickpocket him.

Bentley remains in a rocket-powered wheelchair, now with a pair of extending robotic arms, but packs a mean punch with a collection of bombs and darts.

He also hacks into computer system that turns a players screen into a retro mini-game arcade to blast away at virus and firewalls or manipulate an electron ball around mazes (use the Sixaxis motion controls again).

Bentley’s side-scrolling and over-the-top, mini-game contributions certainly break up some of the more standard third-person fare.

Now Murray continues to be the muscle of the gang. He prefers fists to attack, can carry and throw items, and even lifts bad guys above his head to shake out their loot.

Story Continues →