Reviewed by Charlie Duke
July 2nd 2004
Introduction:The Thief series first started in 1998 and has really opened up the idea of stealth gaming. The third in the series, Thief: Deadly Shadows, has finally been released and there is heavy competition. Will Thief Deadly Shadows be the best stealth game? or will Splinter Cell? Read on and find out.
The Game:One of the first thing players will notice is that the game has both a 3rd and 1st person view. This is a great idea as it allows you to find out which one is more comfortable for the player. People new to the series will probably want to use 3rd person first as it is widely used in stealth games (Metal Gear Solid, Splinter Cell) and they will be use to this. However, 1st person feels more "real" and provides added difficulty and interest. For example you can't just rotate the camera to look round a corner, I suggest everyone moves on to 1st person.
Gameplay is very important and Thief has loads of it. The basic idea is that you are the anti-hero, Garret, who is a thief in a medieval fantasy setting which has many places to steal from. You steal from the rich and give to yourself. Your first mission after the training is to sneak into a castle to steal an opal. As most fans of the series will guess, the missions become more and more risky and important as the story continues.
The game is centralised around the hub which is reasonably large city. The city has many places to go but not enough. Although it is big, it sometimes feels too enclosed and lifeless. If you can successfully over look this then there is some great times to be had, don't let it put you off. The hub leads on to missions which push the story forward but also provides a good source of income. Your loot which is gained by thieving allows you to buy more equipment, which is needless to say, very imaginative. The equipment ranges from climbing gloves to water arrows to put out torches. This means you will need to take some big risks to get those last few coppers in a bowl to buy you that important weapon for the next mission.
The missions themselves are great. In your travels you will visit a museum, a clock-tower and an insane asylum/Orphanage (yes that's right, a mixture of the two!), more on that later. They are great fun and on average will take 45 minutes each for the average gamer. Of course all these great locales would be nothing without some tough AI to beat. The AI comes in the form of guards, creatures and locals. Everybody seems to have their own personality as they walk around muttering to themselves. There is a lot of fun to be had with the conversations and Garret's sarcastic comments will make you smile as you take his place in his world. Start practicing to use "taffer" as an insult, you're going to hear it a lot.
Graphics & Sound:Welcome to the beautiful city, the surroundings are great with amazing dynamic lighting combined with some chilling blue moon light, it is very effective and the pixel shading and texture bumping really does make it feel like real stone work. The character models follow suit as they are extremely detailed. The sound within the game is perfectly balanced with tension built up by clever use of errie background sounds.
To give a good example there is the fantastic level called the cradle. Anyone who has played this game to the end will no this level. At every corner there is a shadow and a sound. This level is not for the faint hearted. When the electric lights begin to flicker you know "something" is close. You hide but it's useless, the screaming and then there it is, a very... no I won't ruin it for you. The atmosphere causes all of this, without the great graphics and gripping sound effects it could of been a let down.
The dynamic lighting used is very effective because when you are in shadow it actually looks like someone could pass you unlike something like splinter cell when you look pretty obvious. This all adds value to the game's realistic sneaking side and it is fun hugging against a wall praying they won't see you.
However you definitely pay for these luxuries as the loading times can ruin the atmosphere easily. They are way to long for game like this. This could be excusable if the areas were large but most of them are reasonably small. Try not to let it ruin the game for you.
Innovation:Thief was the first stealth game I remember and has been molding the genre since birth. The latest is no different with some great ideas included. The idea of stealing loot which you then need to sell at certain fences to buy equipment is good fun and the way you are free to explore is very nice.
Mojo:The unique settings of this game have given this game a ton of mojo. It is so much fun walking through all the different areas and listening to the comic conversations of the people. If you follow the story of the guy who is scared of the doctor and his various talks with other guards it can have you in tears of laughter!
Lowdown:This is a very unique and interesting stealth game. It is fairly easy to get into and will provide many hours of entertainment. Don't miss out on this, there is so much fun to be had in this title. A must have for thief fans.
Gameplay: 9, Graphics/Sound: 8, Innovation: 9.5, Mojo: 8.5. Final: 9
- Cutting-edge Action Stealth Gameplay - Hide in the shadows, sneak past the guards, or ambush them from the darkness!
- Huge Arsenal of Thieves' Tools - Including lock picks, a blackjack, arrows, wall climbing gloves, oil flasks, flash bombs, and a dagger.
- An Entire City to Explore - Break into any building, mug nobles on the streets, spend your loot, and earn a reputation. Feel like a real thief in a cityscape of unparalleled responsiveness and interactivity.
- Advanced Artificial Intelligence - AI guards that see and hear, track evidence and suspiciousness, search for intruders, fight, give chase, and perform lip synching, facial expressions, and hundreds of lines of real-time dialog.
- Dynamic Lighting and Shadow System - Every character and object casts realistic, dynamic shadows that effect stealth gameplay.