Review by ploodie

"Hands down my all time favorite game franchise! Perfect for the "nightstalker" in all of us!"

What can one say about the brilliance of Looking Glass's first two Thief titles? A First Person Snooper as they call it! Indeed, this game caters to all of us who loved to hide in the shadows around our neighborhood when we were children, who loved to climb up on roofs and loved to elude the authorities who would take you home for breaking curfew! Okay, I had a pretty rebellious childhood! Well, now I can do it without fear of going to prison!

The basic premise of THIEF is pretty obvious - break in, steal stuff, leave without getting caught! It is the way in which this is all presented that makes everything work so well. And, in an era where games are often lauded for one simple thing such as graphics, or story, or gameplay - THIEF is that rare series where the developers got everything right and made a game where every element excels and compliments the other.

To begin with, the setting. The THIEF universe is so intricately planned out and scripted that it could make a very interesting movie. It is a world of Medieval times, yet with the odd mix of mechanical technology thrown in here and there. You have castles with torches - and yet also magnificent Bank buildings with Electric lights and mechanical robot security systems. You have taverns, and you have record players in the same city.

You also have some various warring factions of religious adherents. You have the Hammerites who woship God in the form of The Builder - they worship the image of a hammer and speak of life as building a house of wood and nail. Then, in THIEF 2, you have the added Mechanists, who see the Hammerites as "backward" thinkers and who have moved on to metal and mechanical devices - their philosphy is of building of cogs and wheels. Then you have the Mages, who worship Fire, Air, Water, and Earth - the elements - they are Wizards who attack you with various spells based on the four elements. Then you have the Pagans - a group who live in the woods and worship nature in the form of the Trickster, among others. Throughout both games, you will find tomes of writings from the wise thinkers of each faction - and it is this high level of detail that gives the game such a unique and realistic setting - it is indeed the Star Wars of Video Gaming - an entirely created world which you get the sense you are only scratching the surface of!

Add to this a whole assortment of spiders, zombies, strange hybrid creatures called Burricks (some sort of dinosaur type creature). And, they even invented their own swear word! TAFFER! What does it mean? No one quite knows, and the fact that it is not explained makes it that much better. This is absolutely the most creatively conceived world for a video game ever!

And that is just the setup! Throughout both games, you are master thief Garret. Your goal is to achieve various objectives looting mansions, museums, temples, cities-at-large, a giant bank . . . and so many more. And, best of all - these objectives are all connected by a truly riveting storyline. Garret isn't just robbing for the sake of it - he is always embroiled with plots and sub-plots involving the many different factions.

To achieve your objectives, you will virtually become a Medieval James Bond with varying gadgets. First, your set of trusty arrows - regular arrows for attack (which you rarely want to do), water arrows to douse torches (to create more shadow), fire and gas arrows (also for attack), moss arrows (to dampen the sound of your footsteps), and my favorite - rope arrows which you can shoot into anything wooden or earthen to climb and reach previously unattainable areas.

Add to this a collection of gadgets like lockpicks to open locked doors, a blackjack to silently knock out guards, flash bombs to blind people, various types of mines . . . this is a very diverse game!

Along the way, of course, you will be hunting for as much loot you can find. Rings, bracelets, gold dishes, vintage wine, paintings, and any particularly sought after item by any number of characters you will meet along the way. This adds to the fun of each level as you explore to find the maximum amount of loot. At the beginning of each level, you use the loot to buy your weapons and gadgets for the next level - so, high loot counts are encouraged. This game is an explorer's dream!

Then, there are the guards. Now, by today's standards they don't have the highest AI - but they are high enough to give a good level of panick to the game as you try to sneak past them, or escape their sight long enough to hide in shadow when they are chasing you. This is the most enjoyable part of the game - the cat-and-mouse. You have a visibility meter that tells you how visible you are at all times. Once in shadow, a guard can walk within a foot or two and rarely see you, allowing you to pick-pocket him or blackjack him to move on (or, if you are in for a challange, to simply sneak by without any sort of physical confrontation!)

There is so much more to these games, but I can tell you that if you can enoy the slower pace of play, and have the patience to sometimes creep along at a snail's pace, this game will blow you away! It is a major and welcome change of pace to the over-crowded world of FPS fragfests out there!

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 07/20/04

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