Review by josephmach
"Good time to be a Thief again!"
If you are new to the Thief series, you basically play the role as....a thief. The game takes place in an medieval era, where people live in stone houses, mansions and the like. Your characters name is Garret, and you basically play this first person/third person (you can change on the fly) game from the shadows. Unlike most games in this genre, you have a MUCH better chance of survival by not running into enemies. To help you accomplish this, you have access to different tools of the trade. Besides your normal bow and arrow, you have water arrows to turn off torches that create more shadows to help you run around and hide in, flashbombs to blind opponents and a set of lockpicks to help you break into locked doors. The real beauty of Thief is that there are many ways to accomplish mission goals with no set path to take. You can take a few different ways into buildings, such as windows, front doors, or second story levels.
Most of this game is played from the shadows. You are basically required to hide in dark corners while guards/enemies walk past you. Then you have to go from room to room without being caught on your way to completing the games many goals. You have many choices you can take with these guards as well. You can either let them go on their way and move past them, knock them out with your blackjack (then hide their bodies so they are not discovered and have your cover blown), shoot and kill them with an arrow, or knock them out with a gas-bomb. Speaking of guards, they will notice blood on the floor (if you used an arrow to kill a fellow guard), doors that are left open by you, guards that should be roaming around (that you have taken care of) and treasure that has been stolen. In general, the AI controlling them is very good, with the exception that they will go back to their patrols after a few moments of chasing you around as if nothing ever happened. Levels are huge and offer many challenging goals per level. The level designs are particuarly well done, with many paths to take in each level.
Controlling your character is a breeze. The button lay out is very managable and you will soon be switching weapons, pressing up against walls, jumping and climbing onto walls, picking locks and pockets with little effort. You can easily sneak around by using the analog sticks, which is important because after all, you are a thief and trying to avoid being caught.
The game looks pretty good. While not up to the level of some of the best looking games on xbox, what is here is better than average. The lighting effects are GREAT in this game, but they are the primary cause of the slower frame-rate. While not obscence, the frame-rate does drop a little here and there and usually hovers around 30fps. The game is still fully playable however and you will rarely notice it once you get into the game. The game also supports HDTV 480p if you have it, which makes the game look even better.
Be prepared to wait about 15 seconds before each mission starts, and another 10-15 seconds in certain levels that must load different portions of cities, mansions, or stages in general as you are playing. Loading times do not seem overly long when taking account what the disk is loading. Again, levels are BIG, and it really doesn't take away anything from the game play. The developers did a great job of making sure that when it is time for a different section to be loaded, it will not be during an important part of your game. You will not be walking into a room, running after a guard and then BAM!!!, you suddenly hit a loading screen.
In-game Dolby Digital effects will have you looking behind your shoulders if you have a good sound set-up at home. The sound in this game will have you on the edge of your seats, looking around corners as you hear footsteps walking towards you. There are some great moaning, creeking, and other scary effects that really draw you into the game. There really isn't much of the way of music in the game itself, as that would really mess up being able to hear a guard coming your way.
Sound also plays an IMPORTANT part in Thief. You must learn to sneak along as running can be heard by guards and give away your position. You can knock over barrels, chairs and other pieces of furniture that guards can hear. You can also throw items to catch guards attention and draw them away from you. If you have played any of the two Thief games before this one on PC, then you know what to expect. Brilliant.
The game has many difficulty levels with different goals, such as not killing anyone, or stealing more amounts of treasure per level. You can take different paths to your objectives as you play levels over again. You can try not using any weapons at all if you like. There are many different ways you can play a level, and each level can take well over an hour to complete, over two if you search for all the treasure in levels.
OVERALL GRADE AND CONCLUSION-9
While the game does have a few rough edges, such as the frame-rate and predictable A.I. in some spots, this game SHOULD NOT BE MISSED! It is scarier than 90% of the games on ANY system, challenging enough for even hardened Thief veterans, and it provides a great deal in the fun factor category. Running around as a thief, collecting treasure, sneaking in and out of peoples homes is made fun in this game. Before you know it, you will be drawn into it's deep storyline, looking for the perfect hidding place, and thinking your have become a Master Thief yourself.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 06/01/04
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