Many platformers have graced the PS2 with a variety of gimmicks. Despite the mess of titles out there for the console, a few games have managed to stand out above the rest; fortunately the same can not be said for Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves. The Sly series manages to combine great platforming play, with outstanding cell shading graphics. The level of detail given to the feel of the game is amazing and this makes the whole package very enjoyable. It's really a shame this series has often gone under the radar of most gamers, since this new instalment of the series brings even more fun to the table.
The whole story for Sly 3 revolves around Sly, his friends, and the Cooper family treasure. Sly Cooper is a master thief who is trying to break into the Cooper family vault. However, he finds out the vault is being protected by an evil villain who has taken control of the place, and is trying to break into the vault himself. Sly has the key to opening the vault but he needs the help of his friends in order to successfully penetrate the heavy security. One of these friends is a turtle on a wheelchair named Bentley. This is where people might go "What can a turtle on a wheelchair do?" and the answer is… well, lots. The wheelchair is equipped with a jetpack, which gives Bentley some cool moves. As you progress through the story, Sly will eventually meet up with some different friends like Murray and other characters, in his quest to get to the vault. You even get to play as Carmelita, a police officer that dedicates herself to capturing Sly. Did I mention that Sly is "interested" in her. Clearly, Sly 3's story is quirky enough to complement the game well and does a good job of keeping players interested in the action on screen.
There's a lot to love about Sly 3's graphics. Not to break with tradition, the new instalment is also 3D cell-shaded. The environments are colourful and interesting. All the animations for the characters are fluid and are able to compete with most of the blockbuster PS2 games out there. I cannot emphasize enough how much that brings to the whole experience of the game. The little touches like Sly walking on the top of his feet when you lightly touch the analog stick, and the various character animations really bring this title above and beyond. The voiceovers are well done and some of the lines might crack a smile or a chuckle. Even the music fits in well with the whole theme of the game and even though it's no orchestral masterpiece, it adds to the whole experience.
Sly 3 adds a lot of new gameplay to the Sly series and the addition of new characters is a step in the right direction. As Sly, you have a number of attacks that you can perform and you can also steal from enemies in order to get your money count higher. The other person who can steal a lot is Bentley but he uses this ability in a different way. Instead of using a dagger to pull out money as Sly does, Bentley uses a fishing rod to achieve the same result. By stealing from enemies, you not only get money but can also get items. Bentley also has a few cool attacks and is certainly not harmless despite being a turtle in a wheelchair. You can also get to play as Murray (he serves as the muscle in the team) and can gets money by beating up enemies and making them drop the coins in the process. Even though playing as Murray can be fun, the best way to rack up on the riches is to use Sly or Bentley. The game also gives you an incentive to steal a lot since you need money in order to get new abilities for your party. While a lot of the levels are just straightforward, the game puts in quite a few mini-games in between the levels. You'll also have quite a bit of fun sneaking around, as some levels require you to duck under desks and avoid lights so you don't get spotted. In some cases, the game will change your character on the fly, letting you play a little bit of the level with Sly and then a bit with Bentley and Murray. Not only that but you also get to play as Carmelita but only during levels where she and Sly have a common enemy.
Besides the single player story mode, Sly 3 also offers a couple of additional modes such as multiplayer deathmatch-style police vs. thief and multiplayer mini-games. These are a nice addition but the novelty wears off quickly. The deathmatch games do have a certain fun factor but the multiplayer mini-games are not memorable and you probably won't play them more than once with your friends. Another mode that adds a couple of hours of gameplay is the master thief mode, which presents you with challenges to complete. These include facing tougher enemies to having time limits to achieve a certain task. The problem is that it's pretty much a regurgitation of all the stuff you did in story mode, so unless you really want to finish the whole game, you probably won't care for it too much.
There is a lot to like about Sly 3 on the PS2. The game is a great platformer and will appeal to a lot of gamers out there. The problem with the game is mostly the difficulty and the fact that the novelty factor of the series has worn off a bit. The game itself doesn't show its full potential until later stages when the action gets frantic enough to give you good gameplay. Until then, most gamers might find this title a bit on the easy side. They've actually made the game easier from previous instalments in an attempt to appeal to kids, which may spoil the experience for some. The game also doesn't have a lot of replay value. Once you've beaten the single player, there's little incentive to keep on playing the game since a lot of the other modes are just regurgitations of specific parts of single player with a different label. Even with all the shortcomings, gamers can still have fun with the new characters, great platforming, and good story that make this a great game. If you're looking for a great platformer for the PS2, Sly 3 won't disappoint.