I’m used to doing the same things over and over again, in true life and in videogames, and this never-ending cycle is a big part of why Grinding Down is called what it is because grinding is the art of repetition. However, and I doubt I’m alone here, I always prefer variety to the same ol’ in the end. Especially in terms of gameplay. Videogames that are simply fetch quest after fetch quest after fetch quest—like the latest DLC from Borderlands—are beyond boring, and I guess I find many FPS titles to be of the same ilk. You just, uh, shoot things. Pew pew pew. Cue credits.
So, the best gameplay is potpourri gameplay. And the best example of this made-up terminology is Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves.
In his third adventure, Sly Cooper and his brainy pal Bentley are trying to open the Cooper Vault on Kaine Island, which is said to hold the entire wealth of the Cooper family. However, Dr. M built a mean lair around the vault as he has gold coins for eyes. Sly will have to recruit a whole gaggle of people to help out with this end-all, be-all robbery, some who are actually old enemies from the Fiendish Five. Each mystery person recruitment arc serves as a level, with it usually beginning on some light reconnaissance before the team whips up a battle plan and then acts upon it. Set in an open hub world, Sly and his friends will do more than just go from place to place; they’ll have to sneak on rooftops, win skyplane races, row boats through sewers, mess with security systems, lure animals and people around using multiple choice answers, climb windmills, successfully parachute to the ground, drive an RC car, shoot darts at incoming rockets, take pictures, steer a van, fire cannons, discover hidden treasures, recover sea-diving equipment, and more.
I wasn’t just saying and more to end the sentence sooner than later. There’s still plenty of stuff I haven’t even talked about yet. Like Gold Coins and Loot to spend over Thief Net or how, after you beat the game, there’s a master thief challenge to tackle. Yeah, there’s a lot of different things to do on top of my favorite for the Sly games: exploration. Sly Cooper is nimble and quick, perfect for running around a cityscape either noticed or unnoticed, and there always seems to be something to climb; he definitely gives the Assassin Creed games a run for their climbin’, and the open hub world is just so dang inviting. My personal favorite is chapter five, Dead Men Tell No Tales, heavy on the pirates and ships and booty. Each mission makes use of every place in the hub world, but it was always fun to go explore everything first, and then when it’s time to go back, I’d know what to expect.
For what could easily be summarily dismissed as just another platformer, Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves is all about a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. It’d be hard to get bored with so many strikingly different things to do, even if some are not as fun as others—the RC car’s controls made for frustrating nights. That said, potpourri really is the best kind of gameplay. Go on, take a whiff.