Review by markoos

"Garrett is back and better than ever"

Over three years had passed since Thief 2 and with the disbanding of Spyglass things didn't look entirely hopeful for a third Thief game, especially with numerous slipped release dates. But here we are and Thief: Deadly Shadows is finally with us. But has it been worth the wait? Read on!

Perhaps the biggest change is that the default perspective is now a 3rd person view. Naturally there's the option of a 1st person view, but this new view point (for me at least) proved to be a much more intuitive way of playing the game. Gameplay wise however, much remains the same. As always our protagonist Garrett has got word on a valuable item being kept at an Inn and we are first taken through a tutorial mission as he “acquires it”. Whilst 90% of all games over the past five years have had such a tutorial mission, it must be stressed that this is a particularly well done one. It also serves as a catalyst from which the rest of the plot develops, as the item he acquires leads him into a fascinating conspiracy... without giving anything else away, suffice to say the plot is a particularly good one and is filled with genuinely surprising twists and turns - this game will keep you hooked on its story alone.

Luckily the rest of the game is up to scratch too. Whilst it retains the same “keep in shadows, stealthily knockout your enemies and steal everything that isn't nailed down” premise of it's predecessors, it also has a few more tricks up its sleeve. For a start, you now have access to all of the city. Whilst it's not Grand Theft Auto-like in its size and is broken into several small blocks, it does serve as a hub from which all your missions will take place. Perhaps one of the best new features of Thief: Deadly Shadows is the amount of optional sub-quests you can find and do within the city. For instance, following the tutorial mission you find yourself in Garrett's apartment. Step outside and you can find your Landlord's room which can be broken into. In here you discover that he is being bribed and will be leaving money in a sewer gate nearby. Naturally you can go there and steal it. There's literally dozens of these type missions that you'll find and while you certainly don't have to do them, they're a great way to earn money to buy new items.

Indeed, this itself is a new feature of Thief: DS. Rather than having a selection of items to choose from before the start of each mission, you now buy your items from various shops around the city - the money for which is acquired by selling your loot items from the missions. Whilst this does make the game a tad easy as you'll always be able buy as many arrows as you need, it does give the game a more realistic feel to it. Another new feature is lock picking - rather than simply finding keys, you now have a special lock picking screen within the game, with you having to move the analogue to specific angles to unpick the lock. Whilst a nice idea which makes good use of the pads vibration function (and is rather like Splinter Cell's lockpicking), it never gets any more difficult throughout the game so it becomes rather redundant.

Despite of the new structure and features, Thief does play in pretty much the same way as the other titles in the series - and suffice to say this is a very good thing indeed. The use of sound is as chilling and tense as ever, with some decent voice acting (particularly from Garrett himself) and the ever present ambient “music” which adds no end to the atmosphere of the game. The graphics too are first class - the use of shadow and light is superb and the rendering of the city and it's dank streets and alleys is near enough faultless. Whilst it does run a little sluggishly overall, there's isn't any slowdown as such.

There really is very little wrong with Thief: Deadly Shadows. The new features for the series are largely welcome ones, the plot and aesthetics are first class and it's a pretty huge game to boot - and with different difficulty levels and loads of secrets hidden away, it's certainly a title you'll want to play through more than once. Thief always was the finest series of stealth games and Deadly Shadows is no exception - enthralling from start to finish and whilst a little easier than 1 and 2, it certainly offers a real challenge. If you're a fan of the series, you'll love this. If not, you should love it anyway as it's one of the best titles you'll see in 2004 - I thoroughly recommend this game.

GRAPHICS - 8/10 - Beautiful use of light and shadow and generally well animated and designed characters. Only letdown by the slightly sluggish frame rate (although this doesn't affect gameplay at all).

SOUND - 9/10 - The ever present ambient background noise is truly chilling and the vast majority of the voice acting is first rate.

GAMEPLAY - 9/10 - The classic Thief stealth gameplay is refined to near perfection here. Tense and deep entertainment throughout.

LIFESPAN - 8/10 - This is a big game. Even if you don't explore the city much, it'll take you a long time to complete. If you do then you're looking at 20 or so hours gameplay time.

OVERALL - 9/10 - Thief's return is as great as you'd hope. Forget Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid, Thief has rightfully returned to its throne as the daddy of all stealth games. All hail!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 07/04/04

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