Review by Starving Poet
"On par with the series"
Thief 3 continues Garrett's never-ending need to pay the bills. Taking place a couple years after Thief 2 concluded, we find Garrett unwittingly involving himself in a plot that might mean the end of time. The Age of Darkness, when light shall become shadow and life shall become pain.
IonStorm took over the Thief 3 project from Looking Glass for this installment, and with them, comes a new yet familiar view to the series.
Gameplay: TTDS starts you off on a training mission that walks you through the aspects of the game. Like the previous titles, Garrett's friend is darkness, and the use of a highly modified UT2004 engine allows for some impressive shadows. Now, unlike the previous titles, shadows not only look more realistic, but they move as well. Garrett has lost some familiar equipment from the previous series. Constantine's sword is gone, replaced with a dagger. Might be a bit of a turn down from the purist perspective but apart from the inability to block, melee is melee. Rope arrows are also missing due to an inability to code them to work with the engine, which is a shame, but they have been replaced with climbing gloves that allow you to scale certain walls. All in all fairly clean importation of thief 1+2 standards.
What's poorly done, however, is the new enemy AI. It seems the coders spent more time on the graphics, which though nice, are not what makes a Thief title worthwhile. The enemy is more responsive to its environment, knowing that there are crates, stairs, etc in the room, but they do nothing about it. You might hear, "I better check behind those crates" if you alert one, but they will never check them. The AI gives up far too soon, even on expert difficulty, and makes for a VERY easy game. Also, the AI seems to be far less responsive to sound cues from the previous games. I've been able to run up to a guard on a tile floor and blackjack him before he ever got into high alert (weapon raised) posture. Enemies might also respond to other missing AI but again, do nothing about it. Quite sad, as I was looking forward to the enhanced AI which was touted pre-release being able to relight torches and make a run for the money. Add all this to the fact that it lacks any sort of alarm system, the greatest challenges in the first two games, and TTDS ends up being quite a cakewalk.
Not bad not bad. The engine is gorgeous, I'll give it that. Not all the textures are hi-res, but it is made up for with the beautiful lighting effects. Torch flickers and moving shadows just made me stare at the screen when I first loaded it up. These effects do come at a great cost. Very few graphics cards are supported and we're talking top end-boards here. ATI owners need to be aware that they need to run 4.4 Catalyst drivers or else they will have some horrible light glitches. Nvidia owners who own the FX 5200 chipset line - all 5200s and 5600s - that those cards have poor pixel shading renderers and you will get horrible framerates. (I own one myself but was able to get by on the lowest settings). Again, very beatiful, but beauty was never Thief's selling points.
The sound is superb. Very thief-esc with voice actors that you have grown to love over the years. The ambient sounds and music set the mood as always but as I stated in the gameplay section, there is something lacking in the AI's sound detection. I think it's been dumbed down a tad and they have gotten rid of the large disparities between the louds and softs found in the previous titles. Some may actually enjoy this more, but I used to love seeing a tile floor and actually fearing it in the first two.
Well, it's not better than the first two, but it's definitely not worse. The freestyle mode between missions is fun, but not needed as items are obscenely easy to come by as I beat the game on expert setting with full inventory and nearly 50,000 gold to my name. This game could have used some more optimization on the graphics end, and larger porting options besides the WinXP only setting as many gamers still use 98 on their rigs, but still fun.
The "immersiveness" (I'm tired of that word) of Thief 3 was almost non-existent until a certain point of the game, and had I written this review before then, it would have done much worse. However, I must say - there is a level in this game that scared me, scared me good. :) It's worth the buy, especially if you're a fan, and it will not let you down on the story. Though produced by a different company, they are true to the story started in the Dark Project and the conclusion will definitely bring a smirk to a taffer like you.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/21/04
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