Review by Talonfire
"The master thief returns..."
Thief: The Dark Project and Thief II: The Metal Age were arguably the greatest stealth games of all time. When Looking Glass Studios went out of business, a lot of fans worried there would be no follow up to Thief, especially since they never sold well. Eidos decided to give Thief another chance and gave Ion Storm the rights to develop Thief III. Now that Deadly Shadows is here, does it live up to the Thief legacy set by Looking Glass?
Thief III follows the same ideas as it's predecessors. You must hide within the shadows and avoid being seen to prevent you also want to avoid making too much noise. Like the previous two games, you have a "light gem" which gets brighter the more visible you are.
Your weapon and item inventory are for the most part, the same as it's predecessors. You have multiple types of arrows, like water which is good for putting out torches and small fires, as well as moss which is useful for quieting metal surfaces (This feature is quite useless since the new creep command let's you walk without being heard, period.) Sadly, the two weapon changes upset many veteran Thief players, this would be the dagger which replaces the far more useful sword, and the rope arrows which were replaced with climbing gloves. New players won't care since they haven't played the first two, and after a while the veterans will adapt, so it's not that big of a deal.
You only had a few basic movement controls in the original two games, now those commands (Walk, run, jump, and crouch, and leaning left\right) are back as well as two new ones, leaning against a wall and creeping. These two commands make the game much easier for players, for leaning against a wall makes it nearly impossible for guards and other enemies to find you, and creeping is slow but the trade off is virtually no footstep noises. While creeping is useful, for there are a lot of loud surfaces in Thief III, the leaning command seems unnecessary.
The guard AI is on par with the original games (where it was pretty good even back then). They can see and hear like the originals, but now they can feel and notice missing loot and now investigate open doors, as well as improved seeing and hearing. The senses of the guards also goes up the higher the difficulty, so players who are looking for a big challenge will no doubt go for Expert every time.
The biggest change from the original two games is the city hub, in Thief I and II you went from one mission to the next right after the stats screen. In Thief III you get a debriefing and then you're brought to either Garrett's apartment or somewhere else in the city where you must avoid the city watch and can do side quests. Eventually you can also help out the two most known factions, the Hammerites and the Pagans by doing little things, when you become allied you then get larger side quests. While the city is a welcome addition, it sometimes seems tedious to have to avoid a guard every time you turn the corner, and there's even more guards that spawn if you commit crime after crime in the city. Another complaint is the size, the city is for the most part, just small and maze-like. Not to mention it bears little resembalence to the city we see in the first two games.
The storyline has always been good in the Thief series, and Deadly Shadows is no exception. The storyline truly feels like a new chronicle in the Thief series. The story is told by overhearing conversations and cutscenes between missions, unfortunatally the briefing cutscenes were replaced by text briefings, so you have to rely on the other two ways of getting story moreso than the first two.
Once again you play as Garrett, even after saving the city from an angered forest God called The Trickster, and stopping the fanatical madman Karras and his mechanists Garrett has changed very little, he's still the same selfish and cynical thief as always, except he seems more tolerant towards the keepers than he was in the first two, but the feeling is not mutual which plays a core part of the storyline. The basic is that a dark age is approaching the world, and the Keeper's wish to prevent it and they get Garrett involved once again. While the storyline is a little cliche, it's well put together and develops Garrett's character a little more like it's predecessors did.
The graphics are nice, the character models could use a little work and so could the skies, but overall the textures are very realistic looking and the shadows are excellent. My biggest grip is, as I said, the character models, the faces look awkward and the ragdoll physics oftentimes make the unconcious or dead bodies get in... unusual positions...
The sound is not a disappointment, if you have EAX Advanced on the environments sound very much as how they would if they truly did exist. The ambient sound effects also make the environments sound more alive. Those looking for a superb music score will be disappointed, like Thief I and II, Deadly Shadows uses dark and subtle music. While Thief I and II also had some techno mixed in, Deadly Shadows does not.
You'll probably miss some things along the way, and you may also want to do things a little differently, so naturally there is replayability. You may also want to play again for the storyline; so there are numerous reasons why you may want to give Deadly Shadows another go.
Deadly Shadows is neither superior nor inferior to it's predecessors, it changes some things to both better or worse and pretty much evens it out. While Thief III may end up being overlooked like it's predecessors, it's definitely an excellent game and superior to any other "stealth" game out there that I know of. New players will most likely get into the series here (better late than never), and veterans will love the return of the series even if it isn't the exact same as they remember it. Garrett has returned!
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 05/31/04
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