Thief has had a lot of stick since its release. The build up to the game had it being hyped up as one of the best releases this year, and there was even more hype when GAME stores across the UK had special release day events allowing customers the chance to win some awesome loot by picking the lock on special crates. But since then Thief has taken a battering from review artists and gamers alike. The majority of who have compared it to the previous thief games, which apparently it just doesn’t stand up to (I wouldn’t know as I haven’t played them). The problem is when a game is a reboot, it is always going to have a major makeover and some people will like it others will not, especially fan boys, and even I myself am guilty of this. If we step aside though and look at Thief on its own merits rather than comparing to the previous games, we uncover a game that, although could do with massive improvement, still manages to be quite a fun game to play.
The story of the game takes place after the previous Thief games and sees Garrett, a master thief, as the protagonist who makes a living from stealing everything from ash trays, pens and scissors to rare and valuable jewels. As the game starts you are taken through a tutorial which teaches you a few basic controls, and introduces you to the story of the game. Teamed up with a former apprentice of your own named Erin, you are hired by one of your only friends, Basso, a man with many connections in the criminal underworld in the Victorian world you live to recover a special object.
As you make your way to your destination Erin kills a guard unnecessarily and you scold her for it, telling her she isn’t quite ready for this job because she doesn’t really respect the lives of the innocent and has a more aggressive approach to thievery. She doesn’t listen and you continue on your way, stealing a device called the claw which she uses to help her access the higher levels of the environments you travel through. As you arrive at your target it appears you may be a bit late as you see a room full of hooded figures chanting and Garrett advises they both leave. Erin being reckless though continues which leads to her falling through a skylight and hovering above a mysterious blue rune which emits a bright glow. The next thing you know Garrett wakes up a year later under a cover in a wheeled cart being pulled by two men in a City ruled by a tyrant only known as the Baron. This is where your journey begins as you look to take advantage of the world that is falling apart around you.
When it comes to starting the game, even before the tutorial, you’ll be able to select your difficulty level as usual, but a nice feature that Thief has is a customised mode where you can pick and choose certain bits from different difficulties to increase your score in the game. This allows you to pick features such as not allowing save features, restarting levels when spotted, not being able to kill guards etc. Now the downside of this is you’d think this would make the game more of a challenge for people, but I didn’t really notice the game being more difficult as I was already going for the stealth approach. I mean yeah I restarted a couple of times due to my own stupid mistakes more than anything. But the issue was with things like the stealth ability, I’d be millimetres in a shadowed area and I could be clearly seen still yet a guard would walk past and not notice me at all. Which was a major disappointment since the whole idea of trying to remain stealth was meant to be challenging.
Still that didn’t take much away from my enjoyment of playing the game. It was really good how you could take multiple routes to get to your intended targets, and how you could choose whether to be stealthy and move in the shadows or literally unleash chaos on the streets by killing anyone who got in your way. To do this you’d use an arrangement of arrows with your bow; water to put out fires and create the cover of darkness to hide your moves, sharp arrows to cut ropes to release boxes on unsuspecting victims and explosive arrows to take out multiple enemies in one go. There were many more but I won’t spoil the fun of you discovering them yourself.
The one negative about the gameplay in terms of getting from A to B is that it felt too structured; I think a more open sandbox game such as Assassins Creed, The Amazing Spiderman or Prototype would have suited this game a lot more because it gives the player more freedom to explore. Instead you are stuck in a first person view that restricts the number of areas where you could go which made the game very linear, and just that small tweak in the way it was presented could’ve made a huge difference. I mean it wouldn’t just make the movement around the city a lot better but it would get players more involved and make it feel like you were a bit more of a master thief because it would open up more possibilities in the game. I mean since the game had been in concept for a long time before it was developed you’d of thought this idea may have crept up and seen like a better one than that used, or maybe they just wanted it so it wasn’t being compared to games like Assassins Creed.
Although it felt structured, I still felt because there were numerous routes available to take it wasn’t too bad and it was quite fun to complete the same level in different ways, going from stealth mode to taking the approach of a trained killer. This allowed me to pick up a few different tricks along the way, one of which was when I began to actually read all the little documents you find lying around which at first I just scanned over, but took no real interest in. However when thoroughly going through these documents you picked up tips to where hidden safes might be which would hold more valuables for you to steal. This came in handy when you needed a few extra coins to upgrade your abilities, such as your focus skill which allows you to see interactive objects in your environment, which comes in really handy in the darker of places.
Along with the ability to focus you also have other abilities that you can use to your advantage when playing the game; one of which is the swoop ability. This allows you to move quick and low from one area to another greatly reducing the risk of being seen, and coming in handy when an area is brightly lit and you need to swoop from shadow to shadow. Another ability to use which I mentioned in the quick description of the plot, is the ability to reach higher levels in the game by using Erin’s claw, a cleverly designed gadget which is like a grappling hook without the rope attached. Beside that you only really have a couple of tools left to help you on your missions which are your bow and the blackjack. Nope the blackjack isn’t a game of cards you take with you, or the sweet you may have had as a child, it’s a small club used to knock out guards, allowing you to remain unnoticed and decreasing the chance of you getting caught, unless you leave their bodies in open light.
As for the games graphics and sound, I wasn’t greatly impressed. I mean the environments were great, and yes it is set in dark gothic, Victorian times where death and the plague ruled the land, so in that sense it was quite accurate to what you’d hear about in history books. But as for the detail of characters I just think they lacked the bit of detail that the environments had. I mean I only played on PS3 and I have seen that graphics do look improved on other systems, but I was expecting better than what I actually got. The sound was a little better and quite interesting at times as you’d hear conversations going on below you as you made your way across rooftops and you’d sometimes pick up useful information or just some humorous comments.
Overall I think that Thief got a bit of a battering for the wrong reasons, a lot of which was due to the fact it wasn’t like the previous games. But it was a reboot so change was always going to happen, it wasn’t as successful as some reboots like TombRaider which I thought was brilliantly done, but I don’t think it was that bad. It was a fun game to play which I never really found getting stale because levels could be replayed with multiple approaches. The only thing I think would’ve been an improvement would have been the idea of a more open world that allows for greater movement, more freedom and allows for developers to get a bit more creative in my opinion. That said I’m glad I got the game and had the chance to play it, if you are a fan of the original series then I would recommend to demo it first, otherwise the game is worth a purchase.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.