Review: "Sly Cooper Thieves in Time"

"Sly Cooper Thieves in Time" is enjoyable either on the PS3 or the Vita.

With all the violence that permeates so many video game titles nowadays, it's refreshing to come across a game that captures that child-like innocence from generations past. Who better to do it than a video game character who has spanned more than a decade's worth of titles? "Sly Cooper Thieves in Time" is the latest adventure for the fox with a penchant for thievery.

The latest entry into the series picks up right after 2005's "Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves." Sly has told his inspector girlfriend Carmelita that he is no longer drawn to a life of crime. But anyone who knows Sly realizes it's only a matter of time before he returns to his mischievous ways. But Sly isn't returning for material gain. He's trying to figure out who's altering the "ThieviusRaccoonus", which contains his family history of thieving. So Sly travels back in time to uncover the truth.

But Sly isn't going at it alone. His comrades Bentley -- a tech-savvy turtle -- and Murray -- a hard-hitting hippo -- accompany Sly on this latest adventure that takes the trio to a number of historical times -- everywhere from Medieval England to Ancient Arabia. The different locales and time periods provide a nice sense of variety, and the camaraderie between the trio is the kind of lighthearted banter that has marked the series.

The gameplay will be familiar to veterans of the franchise. Sly, known for being sneaky, is able to navigate levels by climbing designated areas. He also has unlockable goodies at his disposal, such as a mini parachute that allows him to glide to structures previously unreachable. Sly, Bentley and Murray can purchase these items with coins that are littered around the environments. There is also a number of hidden items to track down. Bottles, treasures, safes and masks are some of the collectibles that can be had.

You can also play as any of the three characters. So if you'd rather use Bentley or Murray for a specific mission, the choice is yours. You can also replay a level to hunt down any of the collectibles that eluded you during your initial playthrough. The three characters control differently enough that replaying each mission with the trio provides unique experiences.

"Thieves in Time" also has cross-play functionality with the PlayStation (PS) Vita. So you can upload your save file on your PlayStation 3 (PS3) to the cloud and then download it to the Vita, allowing you to pick up right where you left off. The Vita version looks remarkably similar to the PS3 version, making this form of play not only viable but for me more enjoyable. The controls feel so natural on the Vita and the touch-screen inputs are very subtle, making the transition between the two platforms a breeze. The developers also made the process of transferring saves between the PS3 and PS Vita straightforward. Simply click on the cross-play option and either upload the latest save to the cloud or download it from the cloud.

Though it's been 12 years since there's been a new entry into this franchise, "Sly Cooper Thieves in Time" is an enjoyable romp that captures that "Sly Cooper" spirit. The comedic chemistry between Sly, Bentley and Murray hasn't waned despite the long layoff. Going back in time and visiting these historical time periods also provides an intriguing backdrop. The cross-play ability allows you to take your campaign on the go without sacrificing much from the PS3 version. "Sly Cooper Thieves in Time" is available now for the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita and it's rated E for everyone by the ESRB.