Review by Enthasius
"Classic Thief, but with a few bad aftertastes"
My first review, and what better place to do it than on the most recent update of my favorite game series of all time. I could rattle on, but let's get to the juicy middles, eh?
GRAPHICS: 6 1/2
Get the bad points out of the way, the graphics in this game are poorly optimised, and prone to glitches. A lot of people might disagree, and for most part I will accept that the graphics in this game has some stunning visuals, but the very twitchy nature of the way the game handles them is a real let-down. Fire effects are great, water effects (dripping) is a bit static and bland, but that's not so important, and the moss-arrows are....quite icky (much like a lot of the plant-life) but the character models are awesome, small details like stubble and wrinkles are great to look at through Garrett's handy-dandy magnifying eye. Overall the game could have been better, and perhaps some of the glitches will be sorted out next patch. Thankfully the graphics to keep the atmosphere alive, and that's what saves it from a lower score.
Every Thief game has placed sound as one of the most important aspects of the game, and there are obvious reasons why. Standing out in corridors watching guards on their patrols will lead to you being spotted,so listening out for guards, doors opening, even floor-types can be all that stands between you, the loot, and your neck in the noose. Voice overs in this game, as ever, are fantastic, the guards may share voices, but they're still amazing and often humorous as well. This is the type of game where you NEED to have the sound up loud, otherwise you might as well play it blindfolded at times, since it is so important.
Music/ambiance needs special note, as each stage has its own 'music' as it were, be it light piano notes on one stage to the downright creepier ambiance of others. Each bit adds to the atmosphere of the game, which in itself is amazing. A game of which its parts come together well and all contribute to the whole makes for an amazing game.
Classic control system, probably capable of a 10, were it not for the system issues the game has with certain keyboards. Little else to pay of note besides the changes made due to the 3rd person view modes and bodily awareness. If you were slinking to the left, then had to slink to the right, Garrett's body will have to turn around, taking a split second, but in this game, a split second is all it could take. I admit this requires some getting used to, but it's not a huge flaw, just a necessary one.
Once again, Thief has a great story. Following up from the great "Thief 2: The Metal Age" title, we once again join Garrett seeking to pay his bills after receiving a tip about a noble carrying a velvet bag that seldom leaves his side, sounding like a clear link to loot, if you ask me. This mission, stealing the velvet bag at an inn the noble visits, is the start of a trail of twists and turns that lead to the eventual end, of which needs to be experienced to really know what's going on in the seedy undercurrents of the aptly names "The City". Every faction from the first two make their appearances, even the dead Mechanist's of the second game if you search around...there are a few old mentions of them, although they have no sway over the story at all. The ending is a little brief, hence the less than perfect score, but it isn't that bad.
Ion storm, having take up the torch from TTLG studio's, have done an amazing job bringing this series' spirit back and giving it to us loyal gamers. From the first proper mission onwards (after the inn looting mentioned above) shows how old fashioned the game really is, showing that the spirit is still there, it just looks different, acts slightly different and can sometimes improve it as well, although that is a rare sight indeed. If you have the patience and the will to sneak that this game requires, you will enjoy yourself greatly, in my honest opinion, and you will have a great time playing through each mission, be it simple stealing to solving mysteries, and even to spending time in the City proper, where you can explore at your leisure, steal what you wish and get into as much trouble as you want, although the latter tends to happen to you regardless how involved you get. Life as the worlds greatest thief never did sound easy. If you prefer your games to involve butchering thousands, then look elsewhere, since Garrett does not have the ability to take on more than a few guards at once (if you openly spend your payload of items, anyway)
Most of the old gadgetry is back, you have your water, moss, gas and fire arrows, you have your explosive mines, healing potions, flashbombs and such. Unfortunately, some of the old items have gone, but there are also some new ones. Rope arrows have gone (due to the difficulty the programmers had adding it, apparently) and so are replaced with climbing gloves, which allow you to act like spiderman, without the webs or the skin-tight costume, which I used a lot later on, when the guards get more numerous or supernatural at times, so a hasty escape might need more than just running on foot, scampering up a stone wall can save your life since the guards on this game can show some menacing intelligence.
On the note of guards, they are just as colorful as ever, sporting familiar voices and some new ones. They are a bit smarter this time, actively looking in obvious hiding spots if you manage to lose them in flight. "I'll go check over by them barrels" a guard might say, while you're hiding behind one since there are few places to sneak off to. Some guards are more persistent than others, likewise some are more cautious than others, it truly depends on the mission, or more importantly, when the mission is in regards to the game. Obviously the later it is the tougher they are.
I could go on about load-zones, but I find that unnecessary, they are just the child of selling the game on the X-Box, which I will ignore, since they don't subtract much from the game.
One wounding strike is the removal of each mission having a cutscene/briefing! Briefings now are little more than Garrett's voice over the words of it on-screen. It's good to see part of the briefings have survived, but I would have liked to see more of the old, classic versions
An amazing game to be sure, with a few flaws that need some programming time or better ideas. I suggest if you enjoyed one or both of the previous Thief titles to rush to your store or gaming website and get yourself a copy. If you're new to the series, I suggest you consider what types of games you like, and make a choice...this game offers much to someone with patience and a sound mind of stealth. Speaking of which, I'll be playing it now....hope this swayed some views
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 06/15/04
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