In the current video game market, platformers are a genre reserved for movie tie-ins (and Italian plumbers). Previous generations were never like this, and while the PS2 was home to the evolution of the genre into the hybrid it is today, the console has plenty of examples of platforming done right. Following on from the successful of the God Of War HD collection on PS3, Sony have opted for a platformer this time round, The Sly Collection features three PlayStation 2 action-packed classic hits: Sly Cooper and the Thievius Racconus, Sly 2: Band of Thieves and Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, fully remastered in high definition and delivered on a single Blu-Ray Disc with PlayStation Move and 3D support. Is this package worthy of sitting next to new full price titles on shelves this Christmas?
If you judge your purchases on value for money, then the Sly Collection will sit proud atop your list of games. Three fully fledged platformers are included, each of which offering upwards of 10 hours of content to play through. Throw in the 4 brand new PlayStation Move enabled mini-games, and you have a collection with more content than your average AAA blockbuster. This content is all amazing too, all three games have been critically acclaimed and while fans have their select favourites from the series, no one can argue that the quality is lacking here.
Much like fellow Sony platform icons Ratchet and Clank, Sly brings a fair share of laughs along for the ride. As an upcoming Master Thief, his ambitions in life aren’t to spend time robbing from those less intelligent than him, but other thieves. This dynamic team consisting of well educated turtle Bently, muscle of the group and bright pink Hippo Murray, and Sly himself are an entertaining cast to say the least. Across all three games in this collection you follow this rag tag group through each of their exciting heists, taking in sights ranging from Egypt to China. Other than their thieving antics, they must stay one step ahead of Inspector Carmelita Fox, who doubles as the group’s antagonist and Sly’s on and off flirtatious love interest. The story of Sly Cooper may not be up there with gaming’s best, but as platformers go, the comedic styling’s here make for an enjoyable ride.
It’s hard to talk about the gameplay of a trilogy collection like this without focusing on the development between games. The first sees the sneaking concepts introduced in a distinctively old school feeling way, with limited lives and one hit kills making those use to newer less challenging platformers reaching troublesome spots. The second two games fix all of this though, bearing more a resemblance to Assassin’s Creed open world format, rather than the hub world style of Sly 1. That’s not to say you should skip past the first entry, it’s just not as polished in design terms as the other two. You sneak past security cameras, patrolling guards and collect secret documents hidden in safes across each area; you basically feel much more like Solid Snake than Crash Bandicoot. The gameplay of all three Sly games varies, but as a way of showcasing the development of one of the PS2’s most loved franchises, this is perfect.
As an HD upgrade of three PS2 games, the visual improvement seems to have worked much more effectively here than it did with the God Of War Collection. Because of the cartoon style of characters and environments, and the fact the game looked excellent on PS2 to begin with, the HD upgrade just makes the game that bit more polished. Sly has never looked this good and because of this I often forgot I was playing HD updates of older games. This made the experience much more enjoyable, especially as I missed out on the games first time round.
On this point in particular, I must close by saying that The Sly Trilogy is exactly what PS3 needed right now. Three of the PS2’s forgotten classics that deserve to be played by anyone with even a small interest in platformers, Sly and friends deserve the success they never received last time around. These games still feel fresh and, because they do something genuinely different inside the genre, I whole-heartedly recommend them to PS3 owners looking for something to play as 2011 begins.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 3 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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