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Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves (PlayStation 2) artwork

Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves (PlayStation 2) review

"Sucker Punch keeps the ball rolling"

Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves (PlayStation 2) image

Developer Sucker Punch had one job with Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, and that was to keep the ball rolling. The previous two installments set things up perfectly for an explosive and unforgettable third entry, especially since Sly 2 paid variety in spades. Unsurprisingly, its sequel similarly dishes out varied content while remaining true to the series' mechanics and core concepts. However, Sly 3 represents a slight step backwards in terms of greatness, but not woefully so. After all, its predecessor was a tough act to follow.

Thankfully, Sly 3 keeps the second title's core mechanics intact. Sly's play control hasn't altered one bit, as you still guide him through veritable playgrounds of obstacles and traps. You might bounce onto a rooftop, grab hold of a vertical pipe and leap onto a nearby spire, only to glide downward and pickpocket a target... all within a matter of seconds.

Sly 3 also offers a multitude of new maneuvers and mechanisms as a result of fresh plot developments and a huge cast of playable characters. Murray and Bentley, for instance, have gone through some life-changing moments. Murray underwent training with an Aboriginal guru, while Bentley now uses a wheelchair after becoming paralyzed from the waist down. The two of them currently utilize new techniques, with Murray able to roll up into a ball and bounce all over the place, while Bentley flies through the air thanks to rockets fastened to his wheelchair.

Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves (PlayStation 2) image

However, Sly 3's play control stumbles a few times, thrusting you into segments that are more frustrating or confusing than exciting. For instance, you occasionally control Carmelita Fox in third-person shooter segments, where she blasts foes with a high-tech stun gun. Thankfully, her shots home in on targets, so precision isn't an issue. Unfortunately, her control response is so loose that it is sometimes difficult to aim, even with homing capabilities and a tremendous reticle. I practically wanted to throw my PS2 down the stairs while battling a late-game boss using Carmelita, especially since it was difficult to deal with both the creature and its minions while grappling with her over-responsive mechanics.

Not long before that battle, you commandeer a pirate ship and engage in some naval conflicts. These segments are awesome, to be sure, but the learning curve and play control involved with them are problematic. For one thing, the game only gives you a brief crash course on how to operate the ship. Worse than that, the camera focuses on Sly while you maneuver the ship using only shoulder triggers, making it difficult to see where you're sailing. Just when you think you have the ship's mechanics down pat, Sly 3 pits you against three other vessels, and then against four. During these fights, you realize that mitigating damage is extremely difficult when your craft can't deftly dodge oncoming cannonballs, and that you must get lucky in order to emerge victorious.

As you might have guessed from the inclusion of a pirate ship section, Sly 3 offers a boatload of variety. However, it's too varied for its own good at times and some mission segments misfire. One job, for instance, sticks you in a lemonade drinking competition that is executed as nothing but mindless button mashing. After that, the gang gets into a bar fight that is, again, nothing but button mashing. During another segment, you control Murray's master, referred to as simply The Guru, as you leap onto enemies' backs and control their minds. You then force them to charge into a gyrocopter in order to destroy it. Did I mention that these guys operate like drunk Olympic sprinters? They dash at ridiculous speeds, but waver around all over the place, and scoring a direct shot is needlessly tricky and aggravating.

Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves (PlayStation 2) image

Thankfully, for every blood pressure-boosting moment that crops up in Sly 3, you'll find several others well worth your time...

You'll forget about Carmelita's wonky aiming mechanics when Sly and Murray hop into a cannon-equipped jolly boat and blast weaponized buoys. Or when you blow praying mantis jianshis to bits with colorful explosives. Or enter an airplane battle royale against twenty-five other competitors. Some missions offer multiple memorable scenes, too. One begins with Murray and Sly rowing through a mine-infested sewer, segues into a standard platformer segment, only to transition into a stealth section where Sly sneaks into a hotel room full of sleeping foes. After completing that section, you're still not out of the woods, as Murray must float back out of the sewers and make his way to a laser-protected warehouse to finish the job.

And you ride a giant, man-eating wolf at one point. A wolf! I can't not mention that!

Sly 3's missions also tie together wonderfully, creating separate story arcs. Each activity serves a purpose in one of Bentley's master schemes. You might provoke a local bully to get him arrested, thereby removing him as a threat in the episode's final task. Some time before that, you foil crooked miners by destroying their drills and siccing giant scorpions on them. Every task you complete strengthens your hold over each territory and puts your opponents at an increasing disadvantage. As with its predecessor, Sly 3's campaign emphasizes continuity. You watch grand schemes take shape, unfold and come to a head in explosive finales.

Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves (PlayStation 2) image

Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves is a flawed sequel, undeniably. However, its small handful of lackluster moments don't detract from the adventure as a whole. The game remains a tightly woven mascot platformer with plenty of character and tons of variety.

I've always respected the Sly Cooper franchise for taking a divergent approach to that genre. Its entries neither aim to be insufferably adorable, nor do they try too hard to be hip. They strike a balance between dark content and cartoony charm, creating a series that's rife with goofy humor, but unafraid to bump off the occasional character or reveal grim origin stories. I'm thankful that Sly 3 sticks to the series' standards and doesn't try to stray from its own path. Even when the game misfires, it at least remains committed to its core concepts.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (July 19, 2018)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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