Review by NeoMorpheus
"My fence sold me this game and I can't put it down..."
Slowly you creep in the shadows, carefully treading on the path as not to alert the guard who you are about to knife. He rounds a corner, you stand up, stabbing him the back. Luckily no one hears his dying cries and you drag him into the shadows. Your mission, save the world and get rich doing it.
Thief: Deadly Shadows is by far the best action stealth game I have played, the controls are intuitive and second nature after about an hour of playing the everything flows. Using and aiming your bow requires almost no skill and killing a person is as simple as sneaking up behind them and placing your dagger into the side of their neck. The only thing you have to worry about is hiding the body and removing the blood. Of course, for those who want to put a cap on human life, you can just use your trusty club (Blackjack) and whack them a good one when they aren't looking. The game will always be having you sneak from shadow to shadow, and helps this with your light gem, which shows how much active ambient light is reaching you. Gadgets and arrows are in good supply too. While there aren't as many as other games (probably has around ten) all of them have a use and you will find yourself using them. Water Arrows for torches, Gas Arrows for putting your enemies beddy-bye, Fire Arrows for killing zombies and lighting other assorted goods on fire, Moss Arrows for choking your opponents or masking your walking sounds, and of course good old Broadheads for putting into the nearest City Guard's head. Explosive Mines allow you to set traps, Oil Flasks allow you to trip up your opponents and with conjunction with the Fire Arrows, leave them in a pile of burning oil, Healing potions (where would you be without them?), Gas Bombs for knocking enemies out, and Flash Bombs for stunning your opponents and making a quick getaway. The game just seem to have that bounce in the beginning which places you as the baddest thing in the night, which slowly evolves into this hunted feeling that leaves your adrenaline flowing. Several levels will, and I mean will, freak you out, leaving your blood pumping and hands shaking as you put down the controller and go get a Coke for all your late night playing. This is one game I would not play at night with the lights off because of the mood it will put you in.
The only thing truly bad about the gameplay are the glitches, which will leave your game frozen, choppy sound, and stuck in certain places. All of these are easily overlooked and aren't as bad as they sound. If you save often (which I do, about every 5 minutes or before I enter a room... Morrowind taught me that) all you'll have to do is reload or turn off your sweet little XBOX. The only other gripe is combat with an aware opponent, it basically involves swinging your dagger until you/him/both keel over dead.
The story pits you, Garrett, Master Thief, saver of the City twice over, as a simple vagabond with a taste for the finer things in life and a mechanical eye that works like a telescope. It starts off with you getting a tip for your fence (think informant and black marketeer) Heartless Perry that a certain noble at the Blue Heron Inn has a peculiar velvet bag. Of course you, being the fine gentlemen you are, decide to liberate the velvet bag which thrusts you into a much deeper plot that could throw the City into a Dark Age and end of world etc etc... The greatest thing about the story to me is that it never wanders, you don't find yourself wondering what you are doing halfway through the game (FFX did that sometimes) and its consistent while holding up the mystique and mysterious main character. The plot doesn't seem reused and I actually picked up what happened in the two previous Thief's which I never had the chance to play. At no part did I feel confused and any questions I had were answered slightly further down the line.
None as far as I can see.
The graphics are clear, polished, and reflect and absorb light like they should. The rag-doll physics are excellent (Deus Ex: Invisible War quality!!!). All the characters have well planned models and you can hear them talking far off into the distance. These are quite good graphics for the 'Box, and while some games have better you won't be disappointed. The sounds carry from across market squares and will reflect the mood of the originator, whether they are looking for you or complaining about their leather cracking. Footsteps are heard on whatever surface you walk on and match the tone realistically, whether they be metal or moss. Background noises add much mood to levels (especially the Cradle [think Rose Red], don't worry, you'll be scared out of your wits when you get there). Music is most of the time non-existent, but when it appears it matches its par with the background noises in adding a real feeling to the level.
The music doesn't occur as often as it should, especially since it is well done. Eidos could have taken a lesson from Black Isle Studios and stolen their Baldur's Gate water effects, which were sheer beauty. Water in this game is basically smoggy stuff around the bottom of your feet. Other than that beside the occasional glitch there isn't much to gripe about.
Play Time/Replayability 9/10
The play time is average, maybe 20 hours, but the replayability outshines it. I've restarted several times just to get a good start with a decent amount of loot and if you don't want to do missions you can always pick up odd jobs with the Hammerites or Pagans or go loot and harass townsfolk and City Guards. I've never found myself board when playing, sneaking around, or toying with rag doll physics (try dropping a box on the next City Guard you see... good fun!)
Always rent first, just to see if you like it, but if you're a big fan of Splinter Cell then by all means get a copy as quick as you can, the game is much more open-ended and you never have to worry about running out of bullets (cause you have none).
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 06/07/04
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