I came into Thief with high hopes being a fan of the originals from my adolescence. Sadly the linearity and technical issues do not allow it to reach the heights of the previous games.
Thief takes place in The City following Garrett the master thief. Garrett gets knocked out on a job that goes haywire and ends up “sleeping” for a year. Upon awakening he must discover what happened that night and attempt to set things right in a city now on the verge of civil war.
The characters that populate the world often feel very one dimensional and seem more like checkpoints on the way to your next job than actual important figures in a bigger picture. Due to this the story never pulled me in—I just didn’t feel like I had a reason to care about the characters.
From your hideout in the clock tower you can admire your loot, take supplies from your storage, or access the hub world to obtain missions. The hub has a surprising lack of interesting things to do. Exploring quickly becomes quite depressing as you find that—for a game about thieving—a large quantity of the doors are completely inaccessible.
From within the hub you can purchase new tools such as the wrench and wire cutters, as well as visit the beggar queen and pay her to upgrade your focus ability. You can also loot the occasional house or shop or find notes that hint at locations of better treasures.
For what little actual thieving there is to do, your character handles well. With the addition of an upgradable focus ability that allows you to see objects that can be interacted with, as well as boost your stealth abilities, you are more than ready to handle anything the game throws at you.
Each level is a closed off area outside of the hub. Finishing a level will display a completion screen that will rate your play depending on stealth, violence, and clever use of the environment. It will also display how much of the loot you found in the area.
The bow is still your main tool for the job at hand, although it is less useful than in previous entries in the series. With a decent selection of arrows to choose from, it will allow you to change your play style on the fly. Going from putting out torches with water to blowing up adversaries with explosives can be quite entertaining.
The climbing hook is a new addition to the series and allows you to climb ledges and reach higher sections of the levels. Unfortunately, it can only be utilized in areas that have white paint on the ledge or a particular kind of grating attached to the wall.
If the game is not difficult enough for you with the standard difficulty settings you can customize it in a menu with multiple options ranging from removing your focus ability to having to try again if spotted at all during a level.
Even on the harder difficulties the AI is still blaringly dumb. During one mission I had been detected, so I ran behind the door I had just walked through and the guard proceeded to lose sight of me and walk away. Hiding in a closet will also confound them, sometimes even when they are looking right at you when you do it.
Visually the game is one of the better titles available on the next-gen systems, although during cutscenes the camera can be jerky and can really take away from the experience. The lip syncing for the voice over work also is hit and miss, occasionally looking like a badly dubbed foreign film.
The voice work is done quite well but suffers due to the subpar writing. The audio itself is all over the place. Conversations will sometimes follow you a great distance and allow you to hear them still while other times standing right in front of the speaker it will sound like a whisper and be covered by the ambient noise of the level.
Adding to the frustration: dying can become tiresome as the load screen is abnormally long for a game of this generation, and later in the game it can become extremely trying as you attempt some of the more difficult sections.
• Controls work well, and trying different styles with the bow is fun.
• Upgradable focus system gives some decent character progression.
• Voice actors did well with what they were given.
• Audio will fade in and out for no reason.
• Shaky camera during cutscenes is distracting.
• Story is not compelling.
The 411: Thief is one of those games that you want to love for nostalgia’s sake. Unfortunately there are enough issues that it ultimately does not live up to its predecessors. Between shaky cameras, bad lip syncing, and a mediocre story, there is just not enough to love.
The world looks good but the animation is subpar
Controls work well enough but the lack of meaningful exploration is disappointing.
The voice work is decent but the soundtrack is overall fairly forgettable.
No real reason to go back and find all the collectables.
The high amount of linearity and lack of a intriguing story hold this one back.