Review by BeerJedi
"Thievery FPS at in it's...only form."
Thief, a innovative series released by Looking Glass studios, is easily one of the most underrated series of it's time. Thief Gold is the late 90s re-release of the first installment, Thief: The Dark Project.
When I picked this up merely a week ago, I'd always been interested in a twist from standard First Person Shooters, such as Deus Ex or Morrowind. This game fails to disappoint me.
First, the most important part of any game. This game is not your standard FPS. If you rush head-in, you will die. The game states you're a thief, so you must act like one. Sneak around, backstab and hide. Your arsenal is made for sneaking. If you're not into a game that stresses thinking skills or careful precision, this game isn't for you. You must complete set objectives (varying by difficulty level), usually stealing, looting and exploring to complete your goal. Of course, you're a professional thief, so the stereotypical dagger and crossbow aren't among your tools.
Your tools are very expansive, and you'll have to rely on them to get you out of situations. You have the standard sword, it's bulky, revealing, but powerful, and able to down opponent with fair swings. You also have the blackjack, leather filled with stones. This is the stealthy version of the sword. It's low profile (you won't be given away), it's light, and can knock people out when they aren't aware.
The beauty of your arsenal is the bow and arrow. You have basic arrows, but also water, fire, rope, noise and other types of arrows. Water arrows, for example, will put out torches and wash away incriminating bloodstains.
Sneaking is dealt in a very clever fashion. You have a ''stealth'' icon at the bottom of your screen. It will light up when you're in too much light or being too loud, while it will darken if you're crouched in the shadows. Walking on hard surfaces, standing by a torch or holding a bulky item will make it easier for enemies to see you.
Enemy AI is fairly good for it's time. In most FPS around this age, monsters and baddies would fire off randomly in discernable patterns until they hit you. In Thief, if the enemy gets a glimpse of you, he will not give up until he sees you, or he manages to convince himself it was nothing. Though the AI isn't perfect: I've managed to stick a guard with 4 arrows before he began to realize he was in danger. If the guard sees you, he'll fight in something completely opposite of a pattern. If he sees his attacks aren't working, he'll try a different type (Example: You're ducking below his vertical swipes, he'll make a downward slash). If things aren't going his way, he'll flee for help.
Almost all items you can logically lift can be picked up and used, as items, tools or just distractions.
Thief doesn't have the greatest graphics, even of it's time, but they're fairly detailed. Each drawer will have it's knob, nothing is blocky or impossible to recognize. The human models are well designed, looking quite good.
Maps are where this game's engine truly pays off. Maps are HUGE, incredibly large, and expansive. And unlike Half-Life, have little loading time between them. Each location is well designed to give the maximum use of it. Each room is a challenge due to set patrol routes, lighting and poor space, or large and expansive where you can sneak to your heart's glee.
All in all, very good.
Urgh, too many keys. The initial set-up is insane, so you'll always want to set your own. There are too many useless keys at times, as I've found myself with commands I've never had, or needed to use. The reaction in game is slightly sloppy, probably to enforce creeping and slow movements rather than jerky, high-speed action. Still, exploring can take longer than it should.
There's only ambience, no real soundtrack to speak of. When running through a deep cavern with undead, you'll feel the chill from the echoing caves and the undead clatter around you. At night, you'll hear the soft sound of crickets and wind at your back.
The sound, though, is something to brag about. The voice acting, while not award-winning, is still superb. Each voice is done to simulate a sort of medival setting. When you pass by a hostile guard, he may just shout, ''Stop right there, taffer!'', and you'll be able to hear every work. In fact, a good amount of the game's info you'll receive comes from listening in on baddies or servants. You may learn of some important info you'll need later, or just listen to some guard chatter on about the church.
You play as Garrett, a master thief with a past from an old guild. Garrett grew up a street urchin, pick-pocketing for gold, when he noticed a man no one else could see, known as a Keeper, who told him of his skills. He has the skills, the know-how, and the very awesome hood and cloak to get the job done. In the beginning, you take jobs for money, just to get by. Garrett seems to be having a bad string of luck when he learns of a deeper, more sinister plot.
The storyline is presented in pre-mission audio monologue from Garrett's view, and of course, scenes in mission, where you learn of the plot actively, usually requiring you to act right on it.
In my opinion, it's a bit cliché and overdone in terms of Garrett himself, but still very fresh, especially for a FPS.
Replay Value: Very Little
While the game is excellent, the game has little to replay for. While increasing your difficulty level gives a challenge, it will get tedious eventually.
To sum it up...
Thief is a whole new type of game, giving FPS a good name by requiring the player to think. If you're not into a slow-paced sneaking game, though, it may not be for you.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/28/03, Updated 07/28/03
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