Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time preview

Fans have been waiting a long time for a proper Sly Cooper sequel. Sanzaru Games, the developers of the Sly HD Collection, have been working on an original title. Thieves in Time makes good on Bentley's promise at the end of Sly 3, creating a time machine that opens up all sorts of time-traveling antics for Sly and the gang. Apparently, Sly Cooper has quite the diverse genetic history--one that rivals Desmond from Assassin's Creed. For example, the gang goes back to see Sir Galleth, one of the earliest members of the Cooper Clan. Playing as Sly's various ancestors proves to be a novel twist--something the game needed after a somewhat disappointing presence at E3 last year. In that demo, I lamented Sly 4's safe design. Instead of crafting a Sly experience that takes advantage of what the PS3 has to offer, Sanzaru's take felt like yet another PS2 game.

Carmelita makes her return

While Sly 4 feels very familiar, this year's demo pushes the envelope a bit more. Most noticeably, the visuals have received a significant boost, with more detailed environments and flashier effects. The game looks particularly great on Vita, with the colorful art style taking great advantage of the system's beautiful OLED screen. In fact, I prefer playing the game on the Vita. One of my favorite parts of the later Sly games were the bosses, and this year's demo had a towering three-headed robotic dragon to contend with. Playing as Carmelita, you had to dodge oncoming fire, jump over lasers, all whilst shooting at the dragon's weak point inside his mouth. All the while, smoke grenades fill the screen with voluminous fog that tries to block your view. With God of War-esque scale, this sequence felt like a moment that couldn't be done on the PS2.

A towering new boss for Sly 4

Sly Cooper fans have waited seven years for a proper sequel to Sly 3, and it looks like Sanzaru's effort will give them exactly what they want. So long as Thieves in Times continues to offer new experiences in addition to nostalgia, fans might be able to forgive Sony for leaving the franchise dormant for so long. Thieves in Time will be on PS3 and Vita later this year.
Watch the Shacknews E3 2012 page to follow all our coverage of this year's show. This preview is based on a hands-on demo shown at a pre-E3 event.