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Thief Review

Thief has long been a title I was envious of my PC brethren, stalking through the Victorian steampunk style towns whilst on the rob; not many console games came close with only Assassin's Creed and Metal Gear coming close. Long thought mothballed after the last game some ten years ago, Eidos Montreal have been handed the reins in bringing back Thief for the new generation of consoles; surely now I can finally see what all of the fuss was about.

Returning as the master thief Garrett, you are again sent out on a thieving spree, backed up by a story that often just gets in the way. Following a disastrous heist and presumed dead, Garrett awakens a year later with no idea of what has happened to him other than his protégé died on that same fateful day. Though Garrett is alive and kicking, the city around him is falling to pieces, a disease called the Gloom has taken hold, killing many whilst the survivors are struggling under the rule of The Baron. However when it comes to the plot you really needn’t take note as it gets a little messy at points, getting in the way of the real fun, not getting caught stealing.

The game has been split into two play areas, The City which tries to be an open world experiance, allowing you to skulk in the shadows and run around window ledges and structures; here you are able to take your time and wander around the world, talking to certain characters that will offer their wares and also open up missions and side quests. The other play area(s) are the actual missions themselves, each in their own separate game world which is unaffected by what is going on in The City. Be it in The City or the actual missions, the aim is often the same, stay out of sight, nick anything that isn’t screwed down and completed each checkpoint, furthering the story.

Being a master thief Garrett has plenty of tools and skills to use, his movement is very fluid, with a context sensitive action button, allowing Garrett to run, jump and climb and vault over most obstacles. Garrett also has a swoop skill, a rather cool move that allows a very short burst of silent speed which becomes a requirement when slinking between the shadows. The third skill is the Focus mode, which alters Garrett’s vision and highlights all items that can be interacted with, be they pipes to climb, candles to put out or jewellery to pinch. Other than a pocket full of loot, Garrett also has plenty of other tools tucked away like a compound bow with a selection of arrows, the claw which allows Garrett to reach even higher ledges, lock picks to get behind locked doors, and a blackjack, as when all else fails he needs to defend himself from the many guards. Of course with many of these items you need to purchase them and even upgrade them and for that you need cash, which rather handily, for whatever you pick up and is worth anything is instantly converted to coin.

All of these tools and skills are essential to make it to the end of each mission, many offering a small environmental puzzle element like extinguishing a fire with your water arrow to manipulating the shadows and this is where Thief really falls apart. Even though the missions will appear to be quite large and allow plenty of scope to try out different ideas, the actual execution is very linear; the game really not letting you try anything else as if you try it will often end up in a very quick death. I found the first few missions of the game far too restrictive, with the game only really beginning to feel a bit more open and allowing alternative routes when you use the local shops to purchase more tools like the wire cutters that allow you to disarm certain traps or a simple screwdriver, letting you enter grates for some air duct crawling action. In fact it was great to get the story done and dusted as quick as possible as once out of the way the game felt a lot more enjoyable, really letting me get behind the feeling of being a master thief as during missions and in The City, like a magpie shiny things will constantly grab your attention, with the game daring you to try and steal as much as you can without getting caught. The rather punishing deaths quite often deterred me from these but with the story out of the way, they are all mine for the taking; many are just there in the open, the owner deserving to have their valuables nicked, the others offer much more of a challenge, situated in well-lit rooms with guards present or surrounded by a variety of traps, it’s here that Thief becomes the game we all wanted.

Though there are plenty of enjoyable moments in the game, there are also plenty of reasons to get annoyed about it, the linear early play though was mentioned earlier but then you have the issue of not being able to find entrances to replay them, with the city map only showing uncompleted missions and shop locations, a real hassle when you have to rely on FAQ’s on the internet. The City also has a serious problem that really hinders enjoyment, loading times; sometimes they are signposted, other times they pop up when just climbing through a window and it really makes no sense, there have been plenty of open world games in the past so why is Thief any different and whilst not a deciding matter on purchasing or not, it really does get annoying, especially when the game really promotes open world exploration.

Away from the main game there are also a small selection of challenges that you can take on and post your best scores online with the likes of Chain and Gain and Chain and Gain Limited that require you to loot buildings whilst avoiding guards and trying to chain your thievery together to keep the clock from running out. Special Loot Hunt again places you in a series of buildings full of guards, this time using the radar to locate unique items hidden throughout.

Having not played a Thief game before and not having any hopes and expectations dashed, this new Thief was initially a bit laborious but finally opened up with more play, being challenging and offering some decent stealing style puzzles to overcome, it’s just a shame that the solutions are so linear.


+ Great stealth gameplay that does not rely on fighting.
+ Loads to steal.


- If you stray from the prescribed path you will get punished.
- It’s a little bit werrrr, a little bit weyyyyyy.

Edited On 04 Mar, 2014

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