What's the common thread binding Ratchet and Clank, Jax and Daxter and Sly Cooper together? For one, they were all platformer franchises that were launched on the Playstation 2 in the early 2000s and secondly, their developers have gone on to create successful franchises for the Playstation 3. Insomniac rolled with Resistance, Naughty Dog created the blockbuster Uncharted series and Sucker Punch have moved on to inFamous. The point I'm trying to make is this - the upgraded technology the Playstation 3 brought to the table has seen the 'Platformer Trio' of developers focus their attention on more mature series, which is why the release of The Sly Collection is such a breath of fresh air for the long-term fans, as well as those new to the scene who have never even heard of the franchise.
The Sly Cooper series brought to the table a glorious combination of platforming, stealth and talking animals. It had an endearing cast of characters, cool weapons and awesome boss battles coupled with some great 3D Platforming and some of the best stealth mechanics in video games. On paper, that makes The Sly Collection a must buy already, just because it's a chance to own these three classics on one disc. We still had to put it through its paces to see how it performed though, and perform it did.
Passed with flying colours
The games haven't just gotten a resolution upgrade and an aspect ratio change to 16:9 though, the graphics have overall been given a complete facelift. The colours don't seem washed out and the textures are highly-detailed and look sharp. There are no blurred edges or jaggies either and the game performs at an impeccable framerate throughout. The series always had a vibrant art style and brilliant animation (just check out Sly's tail in action), so it's full credit to the developers of the remake, Sanzaru Games, who've managed to translate them very well. There are a bunch of cut-scenes that they've completely missed out on though - meaning they're very low-res.
Sly Racoon really shows its age when you look at it the first time, but it still looks like a 720p PS3 game, which is all you want really. The second and third games on the other hand really do feel like they belong on this system. The Collection also supports 3D for all you 3D-enabled people out there.
The mini-games, Do not want.
Since this collection is a direct port, there are nearly no changes to the gameplay apart from a bunch of Move mini-games which I played on my Dualshock and will never do so again because of how awful they were. Unfortunately, this also means the issues from the original games show up here. The camera has a tendency to completely spaz out at random points, resulting in some very stupid deaths and hair-loss for the player.
Where the Sly Collection really shines though is the variety it has on offer. The first game, Sly Raccoon, weaves the tale of a thief who wants to be the best in the world and reclaim his family's heirloom and honor, all while being helped by his friends from orphanage. It's a strictly linear platformer, offering a very familiar bunch of obstacles, enemies and collectibles. The only downer in this title was the fixation on one hit kills for both the enemies and the player (even when you fall into water), which resulted in quite a few restarts. However, the game overall is pretty easy and is very short. It serves as a decent introduction to the series and paves the way for the absolutely magnificent Band of Thieves.
Do NOT fall into the water
The second game is universally lauded as the best in the series, and it's not hard to see why. You get to control Bentley and Murray along with Sly, and the linear game design is replaced by a more open-world, mission-based one. The one-hit kills are gone as well, and in its place are health meters. However, where this game really comes into its own is the ramping up of the storyline and the amazing boss bottles. They are incredibly innovative and extremely fun to play, especially when they get really tricky.
The third game, Honor Among Thieves brings in more playable characters and set pieces, but apart from that, there really isn't much to talk about. The amount of playable characters gets really annoying at times and makes you wish you were playing the second game again, but nevertheless, Among Thieves is a wonderful culmination of the series. Sucker Punch had perfected the art of making Sly games by then and the refinement in the gameplay and the writing just oozes through.
That's pretty much the only catch this game has
Sanzaru Games have done a fantastic job with this HD remake and no matter how you spin it, The Sly Collection is a must buy. Three fantastic platforming games rolled into one for a cut price is an offer that I, for one, consider an absolute steal.