Top positive review
6 people found this helpful
Them Bes An Excellent Additioning to them Thiefs Series!
on 28 December 2004
Thief is back, and once again proves how under-rated the series is. It was a long time in the coming, and with the extremely unfortunate demise of Looking Glass Studios, the project was taken up by Ion Storm, makers of the Deus Ex series. Fans of the Thief series were shocked to hear that the game was also being made for the X Box, and, indeed, it has suffered on this account.
Storyline aside for the moment, the graphics are, as you'd expect, a big step up from those of the first two games. However, because the game was also beign made for a console, there was an element of "dumbing down" involved, and the vast levels inherent in Thief 2 were replaced with much smaller ones, which admittedly has its advantages. For a start, the levels are far more detailed than those of the second game, and there aren't nearly as many areas where you get the feeling of emptiness.
But even with the levels sized down a bit, the crappy X Box still couldn't cope, and each level has suffered segmentation - you enter different areas of the level through misty doorways, each with their own 10-15 second load screen. This does slightly dampen the level of immersion, though in most levels the designers have been hard at work to ensure this is not the case, and this does help quite a bit.
The audio aspect of the game is excellent, with snippets of sound coming in when needed and echos, voices and ambience top quality. Guards and civilians will chatter to each other and themselves, and the familiar clever guard/stupid guard conversations making a return appearance with all the hilarity they had in the first two games.
Gameplay, despite the segmentation of everything, isn't bad at all, with various environments to explore, including but not limited to Hammerite cathedrals (THEY'RE BACK! YAY!}, dungeons and even the City Museum.
Another new feature of Thief 3 is the City wandering system. In between each mission the game takes somewhat of a GTA approach, allowing you to wander the streets of the City and mug civilians, or break in and steal from shops, taverns and residences.
It is also during these intermissions that you can sell your loot, as it is no longer automatically turned into cash for your next mission. This may sound like a good idea, but for me at least it missed the point. I actually found myself making only 2 pit stops to by arrows and whatnot in the ENTIRE game, whereas in the first 2 you had to buy everything you'd need for each mission. Indeed, at the end of the last level I still had masses of loot, which is a shame because it leaves me feeling they didn't balance it quite enough.
Other changes include the removal of scouting orbs and rope/vine arrows from your inventory. Scouting orbs I can live with out, but I was sorry to see rope arrows go. They were of great use in the first 2.
In compensation, though, you do get wall-climbing gloves, though these only allow you to climb brick or stone surfaces and don't allow for nearly as much random fun as the rope arrows did.
On to area design, and without exception this is very well done. Every level has its own distinctive feel, and each has its own features to set it apart. For me the best level in the game, perhaps in any game in fact, is Shalebridge Cradle. There is too much to say about it here; believe me, it's just excellent.
Other aspects of the game: with the exception of the above, a lot of the fear inherent not so much in Thief 2 but very much in Thief 1 is removed, as the improved graphics seem to take away the scariness that the zombies of the original held. They are no longer quite as menacing, or indeed half as many.
Again I must point out something all the other reviewers have already mentioned: the loot glint and the arrow trails.
These are an insult to the first two games in my opinion. Arrow trails - the arrows leave a small trail through the air when you fire them - only serve to remind me of Zelda, which makes me think of cartoons, which angers me when I'm playing such an atmospheric, dark game as Thief. Yes it sounds stupid but you'll understand when you play it.
Loot glint, reminiscent of that found in Resident Evil, is in MOST instances highly annoying. It's like someone screaming at you, LOOK! THERE'S SOMETHING VALUABLE OVER HERE! In the first two, part of the fun was discerning gems and gold in the dark and hunting it out, but now it's been made overly obvious.
On now to perhaps the most important aspect of the game: The storyline. Well, the first game looked at the mythology inherent in the City, and the second one looked more closely at the Hammerites. Well Thief 3 now looks at the Keepers, who have been responsible for so much in the previous two games. The storyline unfolds very well, again lending from both of the previous two games to form a very convincing plot, which seems to take the more menacing approach of the first game than the straightforward one of the second. Indeed, the cutscenes are more in the style of those in the Dark Project, and the ending is as satisfying as the original's as well; a vast improvement from the pitifully short one of the Metal Age.
To sum up my rambling, then, Thief 3 is an excellent addition to the series, and, though consolised in places, is on the whole an improvement from the somewhat weak second game, and a great enjoyment.