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Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves

Developer: Sucker Punch Productions Publisher: SCE
26 September 2005
Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves - cover art
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3.84 / 5.0
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450 Ratings / 4 Reviews
#485 All-time
#21 for 2005
Learning of a vast fortune his ancestors have accumulated over the years, master thief Sly Cooper journeys to Kaine Island in search of the Cooper Vault, only to find that evil scientist Dr. M is in the process of breaking it open himself. Realising that he and his strategist Bentley have their work cut out for them getting past M's security forces, they decide that their gang will need all the help they can get, and set out on an adventure across the world to recruit the best of the best to help with their break-in.
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Bastante decepcionante, principalmente depois do excelente A Band of Thieves. Para mim ficou bastante claro que esse foi um jogo apressado e cujo tempo de desenvolvimento não permitiu à Sucker Punch trabalhar bem cada um dos modos de gameplay propostos com os novos personagens.

No fim das contas, é um jogo com coisa demais e qualidade de menos. Até o level design tradicional da série, das missões stealth com o Sly, é menos bem realizado. Além disso, os coletáveis fazem muita falta, eram eles que tornavam a exploração das fases interessante e o jogo como um todo menos trivial.

Colocando-o em paralelo com um jogo que adoro, Sly 3 tem uma história de desenvolvimento parecida com Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal. Com menos de um ano para lançar o jogo antes do PS3, a Insomniac correu como a Sucker Punch, mas adotou uma filosofia de design que fez toda a diferença: focou no núcleo da série e o aperfeiçoou, criando o melhor jogo da franquia até então. Sly 3 vai na direção contrária e constantemente tropeça em si mesmo.
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gabrielctps 2023-06-11T12:28:08Z
2023-06-11T12:28:08Z
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A Raccoon in Search of a Genre
If in the afterlife we (i.e., humanity) are all forced to watch each other's entire lives on a big screen one after another in a gigantic, crowded theater, one thing I would be very embarrassed for the more than 8 billion people in that audience to see would be the absolutely humongous amount of time I spent playing the Sly Cooper series as a kid. My total playtime in hours for Sly 1 and Sly 2 probably eclipses the height in millimeters of the Burj Khalifa. Yet, for a fledgling gamer as dedicated to the raccoon thief's first two outings as I was as a kid, it might come as a surprise that I never even finished Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves until just last night. As an 8-year-old, every time I slotted my disc (heavily scratched but still miraculously playable, as I discovered this past week 15 years later) into my Slim PS2, I wore an excited grin, confident that this time I would finally crack into the Cooper Vault. Forget about the last playthrough I abandoned halfway through, I would tell myself—I'm gonna finish it this time. But each and every time, I got distracted and moved on, leaving my poor save files with woefully incomplete completion percentages. This past week, however, seized by a sudden determination to soldier through the original Sly trilogy like it was my calling, I grabbed my DualShock 2 and set out on my mission with a level of commitment no 8-year-old could muster. And now that I'm on the other side of Sly 3, I understand why time and time again I abandoned it.

Many of the flaws of Sly 3 arise from its team-assembling premise. While each episode in Sly 1 and 2 revolved around theft of some page of the Thievius Raccoonus or a Clockwerk part, Sly 3 has little in the way of thievery. Instead, each episode involves performing a favor for a new character so they will join the Cooper Gang in their quest to open Sly's family vault. When compared to the heist-focused setup of the previous games, this favor-performing setup makes each episode feel less like some incremental step towards an ultimate goal but more like an obnoxious detour necessary to get into the vault. The result is that, unlike its predecessors, Sly 3 lacks forward momentum in its narrative—it's hard to care about tar pollution in Venice or dogfighting tournaments in Holland when these events feel so far removed from the goal of getting into the vault. Beyond these pacing problems, the team-assembling premise also forces too many characters into the center spotlight, leaving little room for them to adequately develop over the game's short playtime. Though Penelope and the Panda King each receive some decent character development, this development is largely focalized through only one member of the rest of the gang (Bentley and Sly respectively), and none of the new playable characters ever interact with each other in any meaningful way. By the end of the game, despite the primary theme of Dr. M's and Bentley's story—the theme that a true team of thieves form bonds of brotherhood—we have little reason to believe that this team we've assembled, aside from the core trio, is really a team at all.

Though the team-assembling concept's effects on the narrative are bad, its impact on the gameplay is far worse. With each additional character comes new gameplay mechanics, new control schemes, new vehicles, new mission types. There are so many new mechanics jammed into Sly 3 with so little room for any of them to breathe that the game is forced to shift schizophrenically between wildly different genres just to juggle them all. At one moment, Sly 3 might be a stealth platformer, while at the next it is a rhythm game, a brawler, a third-person shooter, an air combat game, a first-person underwater diving game, etc. The already worrisome trend in Sly 2 of cramming in loads of underdeveloped side missions and gimmicky vehicles worsens in its follow-up, with Sly 3 introducing a wealth of one-off ideas too shallow to be engaging—mechanics like the giant truck and industrial claw machine in Episode 2 or the sailing and sword-fighting in Episode 5, among many others. A little gameplay variety is not always a detriment, but Sly 3 straddles so many genres and introduces so many mechanics that it becomes an unfocused mess. Making matters worse, for every pointless new idea the game introduces (dialogue trees, 3D levels, challenge mode), a great feature from the previous games is removed (hidden bottles, timed treasures, Carmelita's voice actress (no, I'm not joking)). The result is a game nearly divorced from the core stealth platforming that spawned the series. In place of those platforming levels are non-platforming missions and mini-games that comprise at least 80% of the game and that prove far more shallow (like the pirate ship battles), tedious (like the RC car missions), and boring (like the rowboat missions). Beneath layers and layers of awful gimmicky missions, the platforming remains buried, and with it the original stealth-platforming identity of the Sly Cooper series. When Sly at last enters the vault in a rare moment of brilliance in Episode 6 and the game finally reminds you of how fun and engaging the linear obstacle-course platforming of the first game was, only to throw you right back into a Bentley and Murray brawl complete with a Grappling Cam segment, you begin to wonder where Sucker Punch went wrong.

"Sly 3" is really a misnomer, as Honor Among Thieves is not really a Sly Cooper game at all, but a Bentley, Murray, Guru, Penelope, Panda King, and Dimitri game. It is a game insecure about its stealth platformer roots such that it almost entirely abandons them. Though other series (such as Resident Evil or The Legend of Zelda) have strayed away from their genre of origin and pulled off stylistic and mechanical reinventions late into their respective franchises with aplomb, Sly 3's vision for the future of the series is totally incoherent. Torn between the need to make a sequel to their profitable platformer series and their desire to venture into other genres, Sucker Punch split the difference and made a game that dips its toes into every genre imaginable but never fully reinvents itself either. This timid directorial vision, this noncommittal design ethos, leaves Sly 3 with nothing to say. It neither iterates adequately on established series mechanics nor innovates adequately with worthwhile new ones. And as this conclusion slowly dawned on me as I progressed episode by episode to the final act, I realized that this was why my eight-year-old self abandoned the game so many times before. It was not an immature attention span keeping me from the credits but the recognition that this third game was perhaps better off forgotten.

Final rating: 2/5
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The third entry in a video game trilogy usually always pales in comparison to the second one. The second entry usually stands as a fully realized version of the potential of the series. The developers take the time to renovate the series in the second game, using the first game as a reference on what to improve upon. The second game can either act as a fine-tuned version of the first game or radically change the direction entirely. The latter is either to offer something new after an unsurpassable first entry or to flesh out the characters and world of the series with a more complementary gameplay style. After achieving this with the second entry, the developers are left scratching their heads about what to do with the third entry. More often than not, the third game is a more streamlined version of the second game which often falters due to not being as substantial in comparison. The properties that made up the second game are all usually present but are comparatively underwhelming due to being repeated from the second game. Any changes prove insignificant in the big picture. This was the case for Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal and Jak 3, solid third entries that still felt as if the inspiration from the developers ran fallow due to these games using their previous titles as a crutch. After both of these PS2 trilogies were finished, fellow PS2 platformer mascot series Sly Cooper still had another entry to round out the series as a trilogy of games. In 2005, Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves was released to conclude the Sly Cooper series. One would expect Sly 3 to experience the pratfalls that come with a third entry, but this turned out to not be the case (for the most part). By some miracle, Sly 3 managed to be on par with Sly 2 and arguably surpass it as the optimal Sly Cooper experience.

It’s a little difficult to explain how Sly 3 achieves this on a surface level because it looks and feels exactly like Sly 2. Retaining the platformer elements with an open-world, the mission-based direction is just as imperative here as it was in the second game. These missions involve the talents of two or three different characters and all of these missions accumulate to a final mission, ending the chapter thusly. These missions are enacted in a real-world location and designed to be accessible for the characters to easily traverse through. Sly 3 is just as guilty of using the previous entry as a crutch just as much as the other franchises. However, Sly 3 gets away with this without seeming painfully derivative. In many aspects, Sly 3 is a refined version of Sly 2. The franchise wasn’t necessarily in desperate need of these refinements, but their presence in Sly 3 gives it an edge over its predecessor. In saying this, Sly 3 still has some detractors that are either unwelcome additions, or the returning aspects were stronger in Sly 2. This is why this game isn’t the unanimous favorite of the franchise. I myself still have a difficult time deciding whether Honor Among Thieves is better than Band of Thieves.

The most notable improvement is the refinement of the graphics. Once again, Sucker Punch takes the time to improve upon the visuals with each subsequent Sly Cooper game. The transition from the rough animations in the first game to the more polished, defined ones in the second was essential for the evolution of the series. In Sly 3, the graphics are the same as they were from the previous game but are displayed much better. The colors in the cel-shaded graphics are more vibrant, giving them much more pop. It makes you notice how murky the graphics could be in Sly 2, especially in the darker areas. It’s not to say that the graphics in Sly 2 were ever jarring, but there’s no doubt that the more lively graphics in Sly 3 are objectively better. They even make the game look more comic-book-like, supporting this concrete aesthetic influence the series has always had even further outside of the intro/outros to each episode. Every other graphical aspect is the same as it was. The comic-book-styled intros/outros to each episode still look fantastic and the characters still kind of move like marionettes. The latter aspect might look awkward and dated, and it probably could have been improved upon in Sly 3. However, I’ve always thought that it was a charming aspect of the series, so I’m glad they left it alone.

The writing in Sly 3 is also much sharper than it was in the previous game. I am not necessarily referring to the story writing, but the dialogue between the characters is consistently more effervescent. The second game had moments of comedic banter between all of the characters sprinkled into the dialogue, but Sly 3 is brimming with comedic wit. Sly 3 is far more dialogue intensive than Sly 2 was. It’s no more cinematic than the previous game, but the cutscenes are generally longer and more frequent. It never becomes distracting from the gameplay as the humor of Sly 3 is elevated by an incredibly tight script. The more humorous moments of Sly 2 are amusing at best, but there are some moments in Sly 3 that are uproarious. Besides the dialogue in the cutscenes, my new favorite mechanic in Sly 3 that showcases the power of the script comes with the new “negotiation mechanic”. Oftentimes in the missions, the characters will try to either bargain with someone for a deal or relay other possible outcomes with a few options of dialogue presented to the player via a thought bubble. The game won’t penalize you for choosing a less ideal option (except for the pirate insult competition one) and thank god because you’ll want to exhaust every option to see how it will turn out. Some of these moments are the funniest Sly Cooper has ever been. There is even one of these with the Panda King in chapter 4 that is surprisingly profound .

Where there are new features that elevate Sly 3 over Sly 2, some aspects are either lacking in comparison or removed entirely, resulting in Sly 3’s detriment. Do you know what element of Sly 3 is lacking as a whole? Thieving. The most integral aspect of Sly’s being and a pertinent gameplay mechanic from the second game has been greatly reduced with some thieving aspects omitted entirely. The clue bottles that were a staple collectable in the first two Sly games are no longer strewn across the level, clanking and clattering to indicate their presence. Naturally, this means that there aren’t any vaults to crack either. The closest to this is a new feature in which Sly cracks a vault-like opening a school locker occasionally in a mission. It’s just not the same as earning access to the vaults by finding all of the clue bottles. The exorbitant artifacts Sly and the gang can take back to the safehouse to sell on the “Thief-Net” are gone as well. Pickpocketing is still a central mechanic, and Bentley and Murray can even pickpocket guards this time around, with a magnet and by hoisting up guards and shaking them respectively (I don’t think I have to tell you which character does which here). However, each trinket you receive from the pockets of the guards is immediately liquidated, which doesn’t make any sense. The Thief-Net is still active as Sly and friends can still purchase moves and upgrades, so why did the developers choose to eliminate the selling portion of it? I’d argue this decision was made to streamline Sly Cooper, a common practice with third entries of a trilogy, but the selling aspect was already so simple, to begin with. I just can’t seem to fathom why they would do this.

While the levels are still designed like open-world playgrounds, the absence of these features makes these levels feel more barren and lifeless as a result. It also diminishes the identity of Sly Cooper as a thief and the noirish inspiration that was present throughout the entirety of the second game. The smokey, noirish tone of the second game is heavily reduced here. Most of the levels are even in broad daylight for god's sake. Instead, Sly 3 focuses on the cartoony, comic-book aspects of the series in both aesthetic design and direction. These aspects are readily apparent across the entire series but are amplified to a greater degree. I suppose they complement the humor and the higher energy the game presents, but diluting the film noir influences makes for a less inspired game. There are already so many humorous platformer games that have cartoons and comics as their primary influences. They might not hold the same caliber of charming characters with a stellar narrative in an open-world environment like Sly Cooper, but their influences are all cut from the same cloth. The film noir influence is what made Sly Cooper special. The noir influence wasn’t just dabbed into the mix as a means to accentuate the tone. The heists in the second game matched with the ultimately doomed Clockwerk mission show that the developers understood how to effectively integrate these darker noir influences in their game while balancing their more light-hearted influences as well. Without this balance, the tone and direction of Sly 3 aren’t as substantial comparatively.

Every level in Sly 3 also feels much less inspired. Each level in Sly 2 was the stronghold of one of the Klaww Gang members and the levels more or less reflected their presence and personas. The Contessa was creepy and had a sinister presence, so the gothic foreground of Prague was perfect in reflecting this. The same could be said for the old-fashioned, rustic Jean Bison whose persona was reflected in the folksy regions of Canada. The villains in Sly 3 are just circumstantial to the foreground instead of being the core of it. The only exception is Octavio who seems to have a looming presence over the area he occupies in Venice. The different animals that make up his guards are pigeons, cats, and wolves, reflecting animals common in mobster slang. The other areas had cracks in them that irked me. For instance, Australia has so many unique marsupials, and yet the developers chose to use two types of dingos for the guards? That’s just lazy. The gang returns to China after the first game, breathing more life into this country with the open-world direction, but I can’t help but consider that this is the first time the series has repeated a location and feel as if this is another point of the developers getting more lethargic as the series progressed. The most inspired chapter is the fifth one, a pirate adventure in the Caribbean. Pirates were the one thieving aspect absent in Sly 2 amongst the archetypal heist jobs explored in Sly 2 like a demolition job, bait, and switch, train robbery, etc. Finally, the gang gets to explore another thieving staple, but this chapter is practically ruined by the second half. The series may have translated well into the open-world genre, but not as a high-sails adventure on the seas. The ship controls terribly and the player cannot adjust the trajectory of the wind ala The Wind Waker, so sailing to a mission will likely be at a glacial pace. Worst yet, the gang will constantly be ensnared by rogue pirates and will be forced to do battle with them. If one-half of your ship is destroyed during these battles, it counts as dying and you will be forced to go back to the starting point where the middle mission of the chapter took place. This is not only the worst section of Sly 3 but arguably the worst section in the series.

The other arguably worse section of Sly 3 is the Hazard Room, a tutorial level after the prologue that is supposed to refresh the player on how to navigate the areas and use Sly, Bentley, and Murray’s movesets. Bently has rented out a warehouse in an undisclosed area and uses a series of boxes and rope to simulate the foundations and traversable obstacles in the areas. For the most part, Sly 3 does an admirable job at not streamlining the series, but this area is just a gigantic, patronizing slap in the face. The controls and layout of Sly Cooper are already easy to learn in a matter of reminding the player ever so slightly in the first real area as they did in Sly 2. Plus, not too much is different here from the previous game, so it totally renders this area useless. The more agonizing aspect is that the first real chapter after the prologue is locked until you do the tutorials here with Sly. I wouldn’t have even bothered mentioning this area if it was totally optional. For some reason, it is optional for Bentley and Murray and unavailable for all of the new characters who introduce us to new movesets. Why did the developers even bother? Was the area forced to be implemented here by Sony executives on some kind of accessibility quota? This is the third game, guys. This was the first Sly game I played and I still didn’t need this tutorial level. I really wish all video game developers would stop doing this.

Because the more refined noir influences aren’t as present, the missions are also affected as a result. The missions are far less restrained than they were in Sly 2 and they feel much more roundabout. They still culminate in a grand final heist at the end of the chapter, but I’d be reluctant to use the word “heist” to describe these final missions as nothing is stolen. The plans of execution for these final missions are circumstantial to whatever the main conflict is in the chapters. These final operations are also sort of less poignant because the missions leading up to them tend to be grandiose themselves. Most of them involve more than one objective and involve playing as more than one character as well. A good number of them will also deviate into an objective that wasn’t planned by the gang. For example, Sly has to bomb a series of advertisements in Venice in order to sabotage Octavio’s comeback recital. After bombing all of the ads along with Octavio’s visage on the top of a tower, Octavio kidnaps Bentley and Sly has to chase him all over the city similarly to chasing Neyla in Sly 2. In the Australia chapter, the gang challenges some of the miners to a (lemonade) drinking competition. Like with any altercation in a bar, it erupts into a brew-ha-ha. The mission is reminiscent of the mission from Sly 2 in which the player plays as Murray fighting off hordes of guards from attacking his friends. The surprise comes with the game having the player fight these miners as Sly, Bentley, and Murray instead of just Murray who is the person in the gang who specializes in fisticuffs. Was simply playing as Murray too direct for the developers? In addition, this mission escalates into a surprise boss fight. Gone are the days of surveying the land with reconnaissance photos and lurking in the shadows while executing the plan. Every mission in Sly 3 has to make a big scene. Even the first job in Venice involving taking reconnaissance photos involves Bentley dismantling a Ferris wheel.

The saving grace is that these more chaotic missions are more fun than the more meticulously executed missions in Sly 2. While the first few heists in Sly 2 are essential in establishing the new open-world, mission-based type of gameplay, they are a little dry compared to the exhilarating heists later in the game. Sly 3 capitalizes on the entertainment factor of the missions and the final operations and provides the player with consistent thrills. Every final mission in Sly 3 also has a habit of going awry which was always an aspect of my favorite final missions from Sly 2. It’s all killer, but I’m not so sure there is no filler. There are many missions presented in Sly 3 that prove to be irrelevant in working up to the final operation. In Sly 2, each mission, no matter how minuscule, was never insignificant in working up to the main mission. It wasn’t all killer, but there was no filler. I always lamented the fact that there wasn’t a mission select option in Sly 2 after finishing the chapter, but now I consider that some missions in Sly 2 aren’t worth replaying individually. Sly 3 has this feature and I replayed practically every mission in the game ad nauseum as a kid. However, I still think Sly 2’s missions are more substantial as a whole.

Sly 3 also improves upon my one main critique from the second game. The difficulty was far too forgiving, especially in the case of being caught by the guards. Each character could get away quickly enough and or fight their way through them to the point where getting caught seemed trivial unless the characters (namely Bentley) found themselves in an unlucky position of being ambushed. In Sly 3, the guards are much more durable and persistent. The smaller guards won’t dissipate in a comical fashion when knocked off of a rooftop. The guards in this game will fall and jump right back up to apprehend you. The flashlight guards also take way more hits to take down, even as Murray. A hit from the guards will deplete around a fourth of your health instead of a seventh of it, forcing the player to be more cautious around enemies. It’s ironic considering that Sly 3 is the game between the two sequels that has less of a focus on stealth. Sly 3 also drastically improves on the bosses. The bosses in previous games had incredibly predictable patterns and weren’t very tenacious. Some bosses even repeated the same attack for the duration of their fight. The bosses here will change up their attack patterns and even come in different phases to throw the player off, making them far more engaging than the fights in both previous Sly Cooper games.

As one could probably assess, everything in Sly 3 acts as a means to make the franchise bigger in scale. Sly 3 seems to have more to offer than Sly 2 does, for better or for worse. Not only is Sly 3’s initiative to expand the gameplay elements, but to expand the Cooper gang as presented in the overarching story. Sly 3’s is a Seven Samurai-Esque tale of venturing across the world to find enough talent to take on their most ambitious mission yet: the opening “The Cooper Vault”. Sometime in between the second and third games, Sly encounters an intimidating-looking walrus named McSweeny who apparently used to be a member of the previous Cooper gang with Sly’s father. He informs Sly about the vault which is said to possess an unfathomable fortune that makes Scrooge McDuck's gold vault seem modest by comparison. Excavating the vault is also deemed a rite of passage for any member of the Cooper clan. The vault is located on an island in the pacific but surrounded by seemingly impenetrable security put up by a man named Dr. M who has been trying to violently crack the vault for some time now. He’s made himself a stronghold on the island with every type of security measure and with an army of horrifically mutated guards whose genetic material consists of two or three different animals (does the “M” in Dr. M stands for “Moreau" by any chance?) The game begins at the point in the story where Sly and the gang are executing the Cooper Vault operation. Besides Bentley, the other members are silhouetted on the other side of the binocucom as to not give away their identities. Some of the voices are unfamiliar, one of them should be obvious, and two of them should ignite a sense of deja-vu. Sly gets to the vault, but the operation goes awry and Sly finds himself being slowly crushed under the palms of one of Dr. M. genetic abominations. The story of Sly 3 is told in flashbacks as Sly’s life flashes before his eyes, working its way up to the prologue.

Before I talk about the myriad of new playable characters in Sly 3, I have to make a slight mention of the old ones. A lot has happened to our old friends since the devastating end to the second game, and the fallout of those events has affected them drastically. This is not particularly true for Sly who is the same as he always was, but Bentley and Murray are the most war torn. Murray left the gang due to being in a state of overwhelming guilt over what happened to Bentley. His feelings are understandable as any good friend would feel bad about witnessing a friend getting mortally wounded. However, the fact that Bentley is now permanently bound to a wheelchair for the rest of his life coupled with the fact that if you notice carefully, Murray could have prevented this by prying open Clockwerk’s head while Bentley was under there makes his grief even more gut-wrenching. Murray then tries to seek spiritual guidance from a wise mentor and travels around the world searching for enlightenment like Kane from Kung Fu. You happen to meet him in Venice where an opera singer turned mob boss Octavio is planning a comeback recital. This is both to make his presence as a star again and punish those who have forsaken him due to changing musical tastes. He plans this by flooding the waters of Venice with tar and planting a bomb under a landmark as an explosive encore (no pun intended). He’s a menacing villain with a lot of character, snarling at his cronies and speaking with an emphatic vibrato. He roughs up wheel-chair-bound Bentley and the sight causes Murray to get a chance to redeem himself for the accident last game by beating Octavio. Once you get Murray back on the team, he washes off his tribal makeup, dons the mask and the gloves, and becomes “The Murray” that we all know and love.

Bentley on the other hand is the only main character that is radically different. Even though he is confined to a wheelchair, he does as much if not more fieldwork than he did in the previous game. The wheelchair comes with an accessible hover feature and is equipped with the same sleep darts and bombs. Bentley has also become my favorite character in this game and it’s not just because he’s fun to play as. To compensate for being crippled, Bentley has shed his geeky, hesitant nature and is now a cold-blooded tactician. He’s like a green, paraplegic Tony Soprano now. Some of his finest and hilariously fiendish moments are dueling vocal feats with Octavio, having Murray feed guards to a crocodile, siccing a giant wolf on the guards, and uttering one of the most savage “your mama” jokes to the face of a man who is big enough to eat him. Sly and Murray constantly comment on how devious Bentley has become and are in both shock and awe of his plans. He was in training wheels in the second game, but now he’s in the Tour de France. He’s the man now.

Another familiar series character that is now playable is Carmelita. No, she does not join the gang, even though it’s Sly’s star-crossed fantasy, I’m sure. The gang (meaning Bentley and his devious deeds) often has Carmelita support them by having her take out some kind of big threat through guided manipulation. She is equipped with her trademark shock pistol and a kick move at short range. She can also leap over buildings with a jump move. The shock pistol comes with a target system making shooting very smooth and accurate. Yes, the only way to manage Carmelita’s poor aim is to have the player do it themselves.

The chapters in Sly 3 are presented much more episodically than they were in Sly 2. The Cooper vault job is still the end goal, but not as emphasized as the overarching plot like collecting the Clockwerk parts was. Each chapter feels much more contained and involves executing a favor for a new potential Cooper Gang member before they can join. After hearing about the mystical powers Murray’s teacher “The Guru” possesses, the gang takes an interest in him and travels to Australia. However, parasitic miners are excavating the land and The Guru can’t join until his homeland is purified from miner influence. In doing this, they unearth an evil mystical force known as the “Mask of Dark Earth”, which is the dumbest villain in the series. It’s a sentient mask that randomly latches onto unsuspecting people as they become irrationally angry and grow to gargantuan size. This eventually happens to Carmelita and Sly has to climb her (another dream come true no doubt) to pry off the mask and destroy it. It’s an entertaining final operation, to say the least. The Guru is my new favorite character as his mystical gibberish is amusing and his unique move set is a blast to use. The only problem with him is his blatant hypocrisy, preaching non-violence while manipulating people to propel themselves into dangerous machinery.

Bentley then discovers he needs a mechanic and pilot with skills that surpass his own. He finds a Dutch mouse named Penelope who can offer her skills to the team if the gang wins a prestigious piloting dog-fight competition held in The Netherlands. The competition is curated by “The Baron”, a formidable pilot and Penelope’s boss. This chapter is my favorite in the game because Sly and the gang go to great lengths to cheat. Any section that involves the gang being sneaky and duplicitous is a winner in my book. Just like the log games, the host cheats and Sly confronts him for it. After battling the Baron, it’s revealed that Penelope is under the mask and has been posing as the Baron because of the Ace’s Flight Competition’s “strict age requirements”. C’mon, Sucker Punch. This is an obvious glass ceiling scenario. The player doesn’t get to play as Penelope (except for one boss fight) but plays as her toybox of gizmos like the RC car and the RC Chopper. One could argue that Bentley could just fulfill this role just as well, but being the team mechanic is not Penelope’s real role in the gang. She’s a love interest character for Bentley, a situation in the gang that we haven’t seen play out yet. Even though she’s obviously the perfect match for Bentley, Bentley has competition for her affections. You can’t tell from behind her thick glasses, but she’s giving Sly the “fuck me eyes” throughout the entirety of the fourth chapter. One mission in chapter 5 even highlights this elephant in the room as Bentley reveals his frustrated feelings about Penelope’s affection for Sly. However, this is the same chapter where Bentley brilliantly wins her favor. Penelope gets captured by the vicious pirate Lefwee as she is forced to be his bride. Knowing that Lefwee is onto them and he is very clever, Bentley hatches one plan that he willingly knows that Lefwee will catch onto and a “plan B” to throw him off and rescue Penelope. He has Sly enacted the first plan and fuck up on purpose, thus making him the hero of the day by rescuing Penelope himself. This plan also makes him seem more capable than both Sly and Lefwee to Penelope in the process. After this, Bentley gets the girl. Sly probably knew about Bentley’s crush on Penelope and threw him a bone like the bro he is. After all, Sly obviously only has eyes for Carmelita anyways.

The demolition man for the big job comes as a shock for Sly and the player. The gang goes to China to convince none other than The Panda King, a boss from the first game and mortal enemy of Sly, to join their gang. Sly is understandably apprehensive about this plan, but Bentley can’t think of anyone better for the job. Since the events of the first game, The Panda King has become a monk in the midst of both the humiliation of losing to Sly and being separated from his daughter. For him to join the gang, they have to halt the forced marriage between his daughter and a ruthless Chinese general named Tsao. The third game may have been my favorite chapter in terms of the missions, but this one is my favorite in terms of narrative. The tension between Sly and The Panda King is palpable, being that he was one of the people who murdered Sly’s parents. They come to a point of cooperation and forgiveness once The Panda King makes a deep effort to try to forget the past and become a better person, literally by communicating with the reflection of his old self. I said that revisiting China was slightly disappointing because of repeating a geographical location, but this chapter shows the total growth of the series. It juxtaposes the setting, narrative, and characters to the rudimentary ones present when the gang visited China last time. This also includes the villains as General Tsao is not only vastly more heinous than The Panda King ever was but as the most heinous villain in the series. He’s a villain so arrogant that not only does he love the smell of his own farts, but he’d be offended if you didn’t love them too. During a fight with him (the best fight in the series), Sly even tells him that he’s one of the worst people he’s ever met. Don’t worry, the wedding is stopped and he gets his just desserts. Murray is also reunited with the team van by coincidence during this chapter.

Dimitri is the last new member to join the gang and is the narrative reason for the pirate chapter. In chapter 3, Sly makes a deal with Dimitri for leverage in the Aces Flight Competition. In return, the gang goes to Blood Bath Bay in order to retrieve Dimitri’s grandfather’s scuba gear. Once they find it, Lefwee captures Penelope, making the gang hold off on declaring Dimitri as a member just yet. With his new scuba gear, Dimitri acts as the team's frogman which heavily involves swimming. I’m glad Dimitri is back in Sly 3 because his nonsensical “hip” vernacular is always entertaining, but his underwater missions are convoluted as all hell to control. Fortunately, he joins the gang so late that you only have to play as him twice.

After assembling the gang over the course of five chapters, the events come back full circle to Sly in peril on Kaine Island, thus starting the final chapter of the game. As he starts to lose consciousness, he reflects on his life and starts to have regrets. It’s at this point where he considers leaving his thieving career behind and starting a real relationship with Carmelita instead of just flirting with her while escaping her shock blasts. At the last moment, Carmelita acts as Sly’s guardian angel and subdues the creature with her shock pistol, freeing Sly as a result. After regaining consciousness, Sly and his team do their best to retrieve Sly’s cane and get Sly into the Cooper Vault.

Let me make this clear distinction: the ending to Sly 3 is great, but the final chapter of Sly 3 is not. It’s another linear, gauntlet-style chapter similar to the final chapter in the first Sly game. I had wondered if the final chapter in that game was this way because of a rushed development period. Considering that the second game is the only one where the final chapter isn’t a gauntlet and has a longer development time, I know this was the case for Sly 1 and 3. The missions involve putting the abilities of each Cooper Gang member to the test, but the problem comes with a lack of familiarity. Some of the missions are way too difficult due to only having a little bit of exposure to their gameplay styles, especially with Dimitri and the biplane. It doesn’t help that Dr. M has been completely forgotten about through the course of the game due to each chapter being more contained with its own villains. It doesn’t help matters that Dr. M is an incredibly weak final villain. It’s revealed that Dr. M was the Bentley in Sly’s father’s gang and Mcsweeny was the Murray. Apparently, Sly’s father was very callous towards Dr. M and undermined his team, taking all of the glory for himself. He’s supposed to be a sympathetic villain but is laughably unconvincing. All we’ve seen him do is act like a violent maniac who spits so much vitriol at Sly and his family that you’d think HE was the one who killed his parents. After this exchange, Sly is guilted into inviting Bentley and Murray into the vault with him. Unfortunately, Sly is the only one who can proceed into the chamber. As Sly ventures into the glorious Cooper Vault, Bentley starts to converse with Murray about if Sly treats them like underlings. Murray deflects this saying that “Sly is cool” but I have a better rebuttal: How, especially at this point in the series, can you question the relationship between these three? They’ve been through so much together at this point for so long that their relationship shouldn’t be up for debate. They’ve broken each other out of jail, Sly turned himself in so he could let his battered friends go free, and Sly even risked his life to secure a girlfriend for Bentley. The dynamic between these three is one of the strongest points in the series, and it cannot be adulterated by some lunatic who doesn’t even give us any insight into his own experiences with Sly’s dad. Of course, Bentley and Murray stop Dr. M’s goons from bushwhacking Sly in the vault, because that’s what you do for a dear old friend. Sly has a final duel with Dr. M as Carmelita arrives unexpectedly. Sly takes a shot for Carmelita and fakes amnesia as an opportunity to start over with her as they escape the crumbling vault with Dr. M marveling over the treasure in his last moments. Months pass and Sly is nowhere to be seen. After a period of time, they all go their separate ways. Bentley catches up with Sly to find that he is in a relationship with Carmelita, finally getting a chance to settle down with her as he has always desired.

I commented on my Sly 2 review that the story was the strongest aspect of the game. In comparison to the ebb and flow of Sly 2’s story with rich themes such as betrayal, loss, and failure, Sly 3’s story doesn’t quite deliver on the same scale. The more confined chapters are all entertaining in their own right, but the lackluster final chapter shows that they all fail as sums to the foundation of the story. The added number of players in the Cooper Gang also lessens the impact of the dynamic between Sly, Bentley, and Murray which was one of the best aspects of Sly 2. However, the finale where Sly’s character arc is fulfilled and the series comes to a conclusion is very satisfying and bittersweet. It doesn’t make up for any shortcomings present in the final chapter but doesn’t diminish it all the same.

The main objective of the developers was to make a more indulgent Sly Cooper experience to cap off the trilogy. Sucker Punch’s initiative was to damn all subtlety and offer as much as possible with one final entry like one final hurrah. Everything about the second game has been magnified exponentially such as the number of playable characters, the humor in the dialogue, and the more frantic missions. Sly 2 may be more mature and refined, but Sly 3 is so much fun to experience. I still can’t decide which one is better, and I guess it’s all up to subjective choices rather than objective quality. What Sly 3 is that Sly 2 isn’t is a great conclusion to one of my favorite franchises in gaming.
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Erockthestrange 2017-07-21T19:55:21Z
2017-07-21T19:55:21Z
9.5
6
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There’s also another aspect of Sly 3 that is present outside of the narrative. In a few missions, Sly and the gang will use “optimizer goggles” to see the levels more clearly. This is in reference to the 3D paper-thin glasses from the game’s manual that you use for a 3D effect. This extra feature may have been fun when I was a kid, but I cannot see in 3D due to having only one eye. These levels would have just been a nauseating blue for me. Thank god using this feature is always optional, or else Sly 2 would have been the clear victor over this game.
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"I'll see you in the Winner's Circle!"
Most people consider Sly 3 to be the most underwhelming of the PS2 trilogy. I, however, am not one of those people, most of it because I really do think this is by far the most consistent and action-packed in the whole series, and some of it because this was right up there with the likes of Kingdom Hearts 2 and Paper Mario: TTYD as my most played game during my younger and teen years. Though regardless, I do kinda see why some might feel this way.

I guess I should address some common issues surrounding this game. Some say that there are too many gameplay shifts, which is something I don't agree with since it's on par with how many times each control style shifts (though there actually is a problem with them, though I'll get to that). Some say the story and villain are by far the weakest, which I agree to an extent. There are some minor issues I have with the story - such as the random as hell opening where you'll practically forget it's a flashback tale until the end of the game reminds you, or the random introduction of a plot point that's only used in the last chapter, but I think it still does a nice job and is my personal favorite story in the series, and while I do think Dr. M is probably the most "human" out of the entire main villains the series has shown us at this point thanks to his rather relatable motivation, he lacks that intimidation factor that makes him an actual good villain to face off against, since he doesn't do anything major aside from the opening and ending of the game, unlike with 2 where Neyla pulled all the strings and made everyone look like fools since the very beginning of the adventure, or 1 where Clockwork established himself as a life-long foe against the Cooper Clan during some pages of the Thieveus Raccoonus AND killed Sly's father.

Now what are the goods in this game? Sly 3 is basically an expansion to Sly 2 in terms of having the same controls, powerups, and structure, which I don't mind since they were executed rather well in the previous game, have been given a slight boost in this adventure. Although, I think 3's journey is a much easier one to swallow here than compared to 2's. Since this game only has 6 Episodes instead of 2's 8, nothing here feels like a waste of time. Yea, Episode 2 gets a little weird, but it's nothing compared to how Episodes 2 and maybe 6 were a total waste of time in Sly 2. It also helps that most missions are actually consistently to play in, always keeping you on your toes and giving you great enjoyment in almost every single episode this game has, especially against the best cast of villains, who have a perfect mix of goofiness and serious to them, with my favorites being Opera Mob Boss Don Octavio and General "Sexist Power-Hungry" Tsao. The world is also much, MUCH easier to travel in, since it feels like each world was built with Sly, Bentley, AND Murray in mind instead of just Sly (also helps that there isn't this weird darkish tint on at all times, like in Sly 2). And finally, in terms of presentation, this is by far the best looking of the PS2 games, since models and cutscenes are nicely detailed, and the worlds presented have a real sense of atmosphere and wonder to them.

Now, what about the bad? There are only 3 things that I can think are negative in this game, one of those being big, and the other two being not as big but still bothersome regardless. Firstly, Clue bottles and Treasure are gone. I never understood why, since I can recall numerous occasions where a Clue bottle could fit nicely here, or a nice Treasure could be placed here for a mad dash back to the safehouse, not to mention that I feel as though they subtley helped players recognize quick ways to get from one place to another, and gave an incentive to explore every nook and cranny for secrets. I guess it isn't that big of an issue, but the question still remains: why drop two things the previous games have introduced and used extensively, and have still gathered a rather positive reception amongst fans and critics? Also doesn't help that these powerups can get mighty expensive now, which requires me to do the boring and arduous task of using that whole Pirate Battle thing in the 5th Episode just to nab a whole lotta coins and spend them on useful powerups, when it could've easily been done with the Clue bottles and Treasures. Another issue I have is the performance. I still think this is the best looking game in the PS2 trilogy, but man this game is probably the most notable in terms of weird issues and framerate drops. I wouldn't say it gets outright broken or hard to play through, but I counted a good number of times where the framerate suddenly drops in quality, only to pick right back up again, and the same can be said for many weird clipping issues on most of the enemies, and some of the Partner AI getting stuck on some sorta object for whatever reason whenever I happen to bump into them. Again, it doesn't nearly get to "game-breaking" levels and only happens in small chunks, but I can't help but bring this issue up regardless since the previous game and even 1 rarely ever had an issue like this.

But by far the biggest most perplexing issue I have with this game, are the gameplay shifts. In addition to the main 3, this game now supports gameplay styles for 5 new people: Carmelita, who you take control as from time to time since she's still a cop, Guru, who's role to the group is rather obvious looking at the name, Penelope, another technology nerd who mains the RC department, Dmitri, who tags along since the Cooper gang owed and finished a favor and acts as the Diver, and Panda King, who had to be convinced to tag along for demolitions expert role by freeing his daughter from Tsao. Thing is though, Carmelita and Guru are the only two new gameplay styles that actually feel properly utilized within the main story. Panda King and Dmitri you only play as a grand total of two times, and while I do like Penelope's RC Car segments, nothing about her really made her stand out from Bentley's RC segments in 2, since those segments practically control the same thing. It also doesn't help that you can't switch between the 4 new gang members at any time like you can with the main trio, so it feels even more of a last-minute addition.

Even though I kinda think this game should've been in development for another year or two for fixes and a more proper gameplay feel for the three characters I mentioned, what this game has up its sleeves is still a blast to play through even today, and it's a great end to this series... for the PS2 era, anyway.
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BlazingWaters 2018-01-25T05:29:52Z
2018-01-25T05:29:52Z
5.0
6
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Sly 3 is a game I could tell was rushed when I was about halfway through. This game sort of felt like Sly 2.5 where it didn't change too much from 2, and had the similar open world where you'd do random quests until facing the main villain. Except where 2 felt dragged out, this felt a bit short, there were some areas where I'd be done in an hour or two, where in Sly 2 I could take up to 5 hours on some areas. On the other hand some design choices were weird, why are Murray's and Carmetlia's voices completely different, why are there no more collectibles or clue bottles which were arguably the most fun parts of the first 2 games, why does some of the shit you do in this game feel even more random than Sly 2. I mean the game just feels more unfocused than Sly 2 and the story to this is a bit patchy, some parts are good, some aren't, and it leaves the game on a weird cliffhanger. Its kind of cool how some missions would let you play as other side characters you'd meet and that past villains would appear in this as good guys to help you out and let you play as them, but I kind of miss the old games where Sly was the main focus. There are some pretty fun moments in this game though, I like the pirate ship battles, the China part of the game was kind of fun, and the game even had what I felt were slightly more interesting bosses than 2. But Sly 3 was a downgrade that just felt rushed, like it tried doing too many things and focusing on too many things, and the area design wasn't as interesting as 2. I just feel like the core of Sly which was a stealth platformer was beginning to fade away more and more, and this game was more an action variety game with stealth occasionally thrown in.
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jweber14 2017-07-21T22:42:40Z
2017-07-21T22:42:40Z
3.5
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Guignard Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves 2024-04-23T00:04:24Z
2024-04-23T00:04:24Z
B+
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
rockyhorror666 Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves 2024-04-17T01:11:21Z
2024-04-17T01:11:21Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
SergLeDerg Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves 2024-04-04T04:21:19Z
2024-04-04T04:21:19Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Ali5ia Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves 2024-03-25T04:50:58Z
2024-03-25T04:50:58Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Stealth
LedriTheThane Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves 2024-03-25T02:26:03Z
2024-03-25T02:26:03Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
junkyu Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves 2024-03-22T23:00:57Z
PS2 • US
2024-03-22T23:00:57Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
lolribit Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves 2024-03-21T22:15:59Z
2024-03-21T22:15:59Z
4.0
3
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
saltyshive Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves 2024-03-20T08:00:58Z
2024-03-20T08:00:58Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
awalters Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves 2024-03-15T16:51:31Z
2024-03-15T16:51:31Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
eliottstaten Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves 2024-03-15T05:26:56Z
2024-03-15T05:26:56Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
foiebump Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves 2024-03-09T01:29:30Z
2024-03-09T01:29:30Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Paleness Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves 2024-03-05T02:43:33Z
2024-03-05T02:43:33Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Content rating
ESRB: E10+
Player modes
1-2 players
Media
1x DVD
Multiplayer options
Local
Franchises
In collections

Comments

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  • ... 2022-01-24 02:58:42.495074+00
    This game is amazing but damn do the levels do everything in their power to make you dread playing as Bentley
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  • Gayvyn 2022-02-15 00:16:22.542085+00
    honor among ** (gets killed on the spot)
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  • Tytygigas 2022-07-06 06:42:28.219127+00
    This and Sly 2 have always rivaled one another HARD for me, man... idk which is better. Penelope is great btw.
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  • AidanAlva 2022-10-18 05:30:57.4919+00
    2 and 3 are definitely on equal footing in regards to writing. The story of 2 is more economic and feels a lot more cohesive, but 3 pays off on our investment in the characters flawlessly with lots of great moments for each of them and a very satisfying conclusion. I will say that excluding 3's China, 2 wins the level design discussion handily. Its hub worlds are all god-tier material you can spend tons of time just wandering around in, whereas those in 3 feel a little less tight and engaging in their composition (though never bad).

    Gameplay is a tricky one because 3 adds in so many extra forms of it, but forcing players to buy Sly's silent takedown and replace the classic cane-slam is heresy. I mean, the cane-slam is so damn satisfying and then you ask me to effectively delete it? The ship combat, though, is the perfect trade-off and is literally what AC IV owes its whole existence to. Hell, that series in general gives me the feeling that the devs were playing Sly while making it.

    Also Bentley is the real star of this game. Sucker Punch took him to 11 here, just fantastic character writing and development that builds off his experiences in 2. He used his disability as an opportunity to turn himself into a rolling, flying weapon of death and he has more classic quotable lines in this one game alone than any other character has across all three games. Because he's just that much of a chad.
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  • frankenoise 2023-02-10 14:05:27.688093+00
    My least favorite one from the original trilogy. Frustrating as hell sometimes!
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