Well it's the end of the year and therefore Developers Sucker Punch have treated us to another instalment of Sly Racoon, and this the third in the Series, Sly 3: Honour Among Thieves I believe it to be the best offering yet. Sly 3 was actually released for the Christmas market but for some unknown reason this series of platformer titles is never positively promoted in the media and never appears prominently on the shelves. This is a real shame especially this year as the usual two big Christmas platformer titles Jak X from Jak and Daxter and Ratchet: Gladiator from Ratchet and Clank have both deviated from their normal platformer genre and in my opinion are both very disappointing. Jak X is an uninspiring racing game with none of the emotion of the characters or absorbing storyline of the previous three titles and Ratchet: Gladiator is a team based shoot em up again not living up to its predecessors. That means that this year without a doubt Sly 3 is the best platformer on the market at this time.
The three usual suspects are back Sly Racoon master thief, Bentley the Turtle who is slow but the brains of the bunch and Murray a pink Hippo with more brawn than brains. Together with a little help from a few of their friends, which they recruit along the way, they intend to recover the Sly family fortune, riches amassed by generations of ingenious master thieves. To achieve this they must pull off their greatest heist ever, but first they must track down Murray who has decided to live a peaceful existence in the Australian outback with a karma preaching guru. Murray has decided to turn his back on violence as he feels guilty because last time out in Sly2: Band of Thieves Bentley got injured in a battle with arch enemies Clockwerk and is now confined to a wheelchair, however Bentley does not blame Murray as he knows that Murray did everything that he could to save them both and Murray has also been the gangs saviour so many times in the past. Bentley with new wheels at his disposal has also developed many more gadgets and gizmos which he has attached to the chair making him more destructive and manoeuvrable. Another character from the previous series that reappears in Sly 3 is Carmelita the female police officer who Sly secretly desires. Carmelita also has something of a soft spot for Sly but her loyalty is with police force so she sets out to thwart the band of thieves. So as Sly and Bentley set off to Australia to convince Murray to rejoin the gang the game begins...
Each Chapter in the game is made up of a number of missions with each of the characters taking a part and using their special abilities. Sly is the most agile of the group and is able to clime ropes telephone wires and traverse ledges and leap from platform to platform. He is also able to crawl through tight spaces and hide under tables and other items, in fact anything that has a blue aura surrounding it Sly will be able to interact with in some way. He also carries a cane with which helps him cling on to items and is also used to creep up on the local heavies and pick their pockets of coins or other valuable items. Murray isn't the brightest of the gang but he has a big heart and plenty of brawn. He can pick up items, thrown them and smash down doors. Murray can use his phenomenal strength to pick up enemies and by shaking them he too can relieve the local goons of their loot. Bentley the Turtle is the last the gang and the mastermind behind organising heists. He relieves the locals of their cash by blowing them apart with mines he can place either close up or from a distance from his chair. He is also able to pick locks and break into computer programmes by way of one of Sly 3's numerous sub games. These sub games take a variety of different forms, there are aircrafts to shoot down, courses to navigate with remote control cars and computers to hack by way of a retro Asteroid type game to name but a few.
Any coins that have been collected by the gang can be spent on the theifnet which can be found by accessing the gangs Safehouse, there is one located in every new area you visit. The theifnet allows you to purchase special equipment or special moves or abilities for each of the games characters. In the Safehouse you can also switch between characters to either take on a mission or just investigate your environment and relieve the local low life of some of their ill gotten gains. By revisiting the Safehouse you can also replenish your health meter automatically however be aware that if you do this while you are on a mission then the mission will automatically be abandoned.
As well as switching between the games three main characters, some missions mean that you get to play as other characters that you have recruited along the way. There is the Guru who can turn himself into an inanimate object so that he is ignored by the local guards, however once their back is turned he can jump on their shoulders and can steer them towards targets or explosives before jumping off at the last minute leaving the goons to run headlong into the obstacles or blow themselves up. Another character lets you control remote control cars or aeroplanes, and there is yet another that carries explosives which he can charge up and destroy multiple assailants or blow up buildings and doors.
One improvement has been made to the game from the previous two titles and that is the irritating clinking bottles have gone. HURRAY!! In previous titles if you wanted to achieve 100% of the game you needed to find a specific number of bottles that were hidden in each environment. When you were near a bottle you could hear it clinking in the background, but as the game progressed these bottles were increasingly difficult to find and the clinking did become a little irritating. Now instead, at the end of each chapter there are a number of challenges that you can complete, these include boat chases where you need to chase down the local villain and destroy his boat before yours is destroyed or within a certain time limit or disposing of the local villains in a timed free for all beat 'em up. There are several available at the end of each chapter.
But there is one thing that is completely new within the game and that is that you are given the option to play certain parts of the game in 3D (3D glasses are included inside the box). This gives the game a completely different feel as your environment springs to life around you. At the end of each chapter you are also given the option to play that particular chapter again but this time totally in 3D. And there is more as there is also a two player option so you can enjoy playing the game with your mates as well!!!
I believe all this makes Sly 3: Honour Among Thieves the best platformer on the market at this time. There is enough in this game to keep you occupied for weeks and it is a game that you can keep coming back to time and time again.