In light of the fact that the new X Box One and Playstation 4 have just been released it is both an exciting and difficult time for game developers in an ever expanding and expectant market. A few questions arise for gamers as to whether or not to dig deep into our pockets for next generation consoles or to wait it out until older versions are obsolete. Developers don’t have this option and have to dive head first into a newer world with higher expectations stemming from the power of modern technology. The risk that arises is that gamers are looking forward to instant gratification and instant new age gaming but this is simply not possible, especially considering that most titles are released for both older and newer consoles simultaneously. Thief is one such title and it is now up to the developers to keep up with the ever growing demand of the gamers (who of course are the most important variable in the whole equation).
Thief thrusts gamers into a world of patient and well thought out gameplay. In order to succeed it requires conclusive decision making and not the brutish ‘kill all’ tactics so many of us love. Despite this, Thief is the type of game that many gamers crave. With a large cult following after the original there was a lot of pressure on Eidos to impress. Much hype sits around stealth games and I am quite a fan myself, so how does this title compare to gamer favourites such as Dishonoured or Splinter Cell and has Thief lived up to its much anticipated expectations?
The game is set in a dark yet oddly beautiful backdrop where the protagonist, Garrett, and his protégé, Erin, are thrust into a mission to retrieve something known as the Primal Stone. Good thing then that Garrett is a master thief. A small spoiler, which is actually revealed in the opening sequences of the game, is that Erin disappears during a paranormal ritual being performed at the location of the Stone and Garrett is then left with the unenviable task of tracking her down in order to find out the reason for her disappearance. Also, and more mysteriously, Garrett is still in need of saving The City from bad ass people hell bent on harnessing the power of the mysterious Primal Stone.
What is exciting for those hard-core stealth fans out there is the fact that this game can be completed without taking a single life and this is precisely what got me captivated from the set off. Options are something I crave in modern gaming, and options are vast in Thief.
But then slowly, things start to go downhill. Graphic wise there are moments that Thief astounds but just as frequently there are visual hiccups which poke their rather ugly heads out every so often. A large part of this is due to the nature of the game being made for past and next generation consoles simultaneously as mentioned above. Other bugs include the occasional lack of sound or completely drugged up AI getting stuck in awkward places.
Loading times are beyond frustrating and the only way that I managed to get over them was by biding such time with other medial activities. Normally I have no qualms about waiting for a game with such promise but Thief has tried to incorporate loading screens into the gameplay, like when Garrett opens a window, and this leaves you wondering if the console has encounter another glitch.
Luckily the rot stops there and by actually playing the game you start to realise what all of the fuss was about. Maps are openly designed allowing you to be intellectual about how you approach precarious situations allowing shadows and alternative paths to work in your favour. Purchasing certain items from stolen loot makes this even more interesting as these tools allow you to find hidden areas which could either help in your mission or simply be filled with yet more loot. My favourite item, as it often is in games such as Crysis and Farcry, is the good old fashioned bow and arrow. More than that however, is the fact that the bow, and its attachments, can be used to distract enemies in certain ways. Melee stealth takedowns are also an option, but again the options are yours.
Besides the linear main storyline mission there are side missions which you can complete during your time as a thief. The game is long and can last up to 16 or so hours depending on your thoroughness.
Is it a success? I would say yes, especially considering the fact that Thief was not only developed for the next gen consoles. You do get the feeling however, that this could have been outstanding beyond measure had that not been the case. Without boundaries this genre, and this game, can achieve extraordinary heights but I’m just not sure that we are there yet. I would choose Dishonoured over Thief but if I had no choice I wouldn’t complain.
Thief Rating: 7/10
Check out the Thief website: Thief