Cartoonish time-travelling fun from everyone’s favourite raccoon thief in family friendly adventure, writes John Walshe.

Something terrible is happening to the Thievius Raccoonus, the bible of burglary that holds the entire history of the Cooper clan: the entries are disappearing. Thankfully, master thief, Sly’s old comrade in arms, Bentley, just happens to have invented a time machine, which allows our heroes, along with Murray the Muscle, to travel through the ages, rescuing the Cooper ancestors from all manner of trouble.

And so begins the most preposterous, and possibly the most fun, Sly Cooper adventure yet, as our intrepid thieves (who only steal from other criminals, mind you) zip from ancient Arabia to feudal Japan, the Wild West and even a frozen prehistoric earth. Along the way, you get to utilise the skills of a host of playable characters, including Sly’s former girlfriend, Interpol agent Carmelita, and his lovable forebears, like the sushi-inventing Rioicchi and the fast-shootin’ Tennessee Kid Cooper. Perhaps the most fun character, however, is the wheelchair-bound Bentley, whose hacking mini-games (including 2D side-scrolling shooter and top-down tank battle) recall some seriously retro Atari classics.

While not as laugh-out-loud hilarious as, say, Ratchet & Clank, there is a great sense of fun to the Sly Cooper series. The graphics are big, bold, bright and cartoonish, with each of the pretty sizable environments lovingly created and fun to explore. The characters are equally likeable, even down to the hammy voice acting. There’s also enough variety in the gameplay, from Sly’s platforming and pick-pocketing skills to Murray’s bear-in-a-china-shop brawn, to stave off boredom, while the decent boss fights will keep most players entertained.

The size of the playing areas, the amount of collectables and the quality of the weapon upgrades, adds repeat value, but be warned: this is aimed at younger gamers; seasoned adventure addicts (say, anyone who has completed some of the Uncharted titles) will find it far too easy. Still, as family friendly games go, Thieves In Time more than holds its own and boasts a genuine charm that’s all its own.

Platform: PS3, Vita
Publisher: SCEE
Cert: 7
Score: 3/5

John Walshe