"This game makes me seriously consider a career change..."

I remember when I first saw screenshots from Thief in a PC magazine. Back then, I didn't pay much attention to it. ''Bah'', I said, ''A Hexen Clone.'' Boy was I wrong. Just a couple days ago I decided to try it out -even when I had a copy of the game which a friend lent me two years ago, and I never even installed- and I was greatly impressed. Now I regret having disregarded Thief as a first-person-hack-and-slash type of game. I was completely amazed by how innovative Thief is. Usually, first-person shooters are seen as mindless gorefests. Thief is NOT one of those. Instead of charging at your enemies up-front and splitting their heads open with a sword, you must rely on stealth, patience and calculation to accomplish your goals. You see, in this game, as the name states, you are a thief, so you must move silently and swiftly at all times. If you are spotted, you lose.

Thief is incredibly realistic. You can hide in the shadows and listen to sentinels having long conversations, cursing at their boring jobs, saying nasty things about their bosses, or complaining about the weather. Amazing. In fact, each time you are spotted, the guards will no only try to attack you, but also call for backup. And when backup arrives, you are dead.

The graphics in Thief are great, even now when we have titles that surpass the technology used in this game, such as Doom 3 and Mafia. The surroundings have sad, opaque colors and plenty of dark corridors and cold stone walls, giving the game a depressing and sinister Medieval feeling. Enemies react exactly as a real person would do. If they are unaware of your presence and you knock them cold with your blackjack, they stagger briefly, then, go limp, then fall flat on the floor. If they hear you making a noise, they will act puzzled and start looking around for someone they don't see but infer must be there.

As for the audio department, the game has a really atmospheric music: calm, barely audible sometimes, but good enough to make you stay on your toes at all times. There is plenty of in-game speech, so chances are AI characters will not sound repetitive when you play a mission more than once.

Controls: fully customizable. Not much else to say here.

Replay value: extremely high. The levels are gigantic and, depending on the difficulty level you choose to play, have often several goals that must be accomplished in order to complete your mission. In fact, you can take up to two hours in a single mission! And that doesn't mean you spend those two hours finding a lousy key or a switch, but instead figuring out how to cross a heavily patrolled courtyard without being noticed. In order to do this you must watch the way they are facing, how much does it take for them to cross the area, what spots are dark enough so you can hide and not be seen, how to tread lightly and not make noise, etc.

Final word: Thief is not a game for everyone. If you like an intelligent and addictive game that requires time and patience, then Thief is your ticket. If you are an impatient person and want furious action, stick to Unreal Tournament (another great game, by the way). But if you are looking for a change, try Thief. I highly recommend it.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/24/03


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