Published on March 12th, 2014 | by Alecs Pillik
Thief – stealing a lot, apart from much of your attention
Don’t get me wrong, Thief isn’t a bad game. I mean, it’s not a good game but then at times I did quite enjoyed playing it. It’s one of those games that you might pick up in the pre-owned section of your favourite video-game retailer for £15 and get a few hours of enjoyment out of. It’s definitely not the sort of game that you should spend the full RRP for. Well not in my opinion, anyway. There were parts of the game where I thought to myself ‘good job, Eidos’ and then there were parts where I really considered putting the controller down and giving up. It’s rare that I get such a mix of emotions when playing a game and it isn’t really something I would actively search for. I’ll finish this introductory paragraph by saying that I pre-ordered the game from Shopto.com for £38, after being thoroughly swept up in the hype for the game. It was a relatively cheap deal and the game came with the ‘Bank Heist’ dlc, which was a tiny bit of a bonus. But the main reason that I’m telling you all of this is because CeX.com is buying the game back for £32 and I fully intend on trading it in. That’s also the price that they’re selling ‘Stick of Truth’ for. Just saying. But, when looking at it like that, I’d say that the game was more than worth £6.
So Garret, everyone’s favourite thief (apart from Robin Hood), is back and this time he’s on the next-gen. Now I’m not overly big on the Thief series, I played one a good fear years ago – I couldn’t tell you which one or what it was like, mind. From what I can gather though, this game is set a year after an incident in which a slightly cult-like ceremony being performed by an evil baron and his band of not so merry men causes a massive blue explosion, possibly killing Garret’s trainee thief, Erin, and definitely knocking Garret out cold, giving him a mild case of amnesia. Garret awakes to find the city in turmoil as the disgruntled proletariat plot against the evil baron and his ‘gloom’ inducing policies directed at the work-force. Obviously, all is not as it seems and it’s up to Garret to uncover the sinister goings on in the city, confront the baron, find out what the hell the blue explosion was and steal literally anything that isn’t bolted down. They called the game Thief, but it really should have been tiled ‘Kleptomaniac’, because you will be stealing anything and everything from expensive decorative masks to rusty old scissors. To be honest, it’s mostly just the scissors as Garret will steal anything he can get his paws on (as to where he puts it all, I haven’t the slightest clue … maybe he has Agent 47’s magic pockets?).
When playing Thief, I spent much of my time looking forward to completing the mission that I was on and getting my hands on the next bit. That was mainly because I always felt like the game was going to get better. It was constantly OK, but I never really got that ‘wow’ factor that you get with other games. That was until I played the Moira Asylum mission. This mission was by far the standout moment of the game, and it involved very little sneaking and stealing. The atmosphere in the Asylum was tense, the jumps were relatively decent and I had a real sense of fear whilst playing through the level. There were the occasional overly creepy moments which were then separated by periods of suspense building eeriness – overall it was my favourite part of the game. The rest of the game was much of the same, sneaking around in the darkness and stealing overly inanimate objects.
Sneaking was the best aspect of the overall game. Eidos have really gotten the whole ‘under the cover of darkness’ thing down and being able to sneak around the map, stealing things, pickpocketing the baddies and causing general mayhem and mischief was incredibly fun at times. The whole mechanisms of sneaking were perfectly executed and it was sufficiently difficult to cause me a problem at times and to give me that sense of achievement for completing that hard part I was having trouble cracking. But the most important part? I was able to crack it after a few attempts. The game uses a type of xp system which collates your overall success at sneaking around the map and being undetected (or gallivanting around killing those who are in your path) and gives you an overall rating which falls into three different categories. These are ‘Ghost’, the best rating for being completely undetected, ‘Opportunist’, awarded for those that might get spotted for a brief second, but spend most of their time in the shadows, and ‘Predator’, your silent killer type player. But with this game, the levels really push you towards the stealth option, and you’d be a fool not to make the most of it.
But for all of these fantastic mechanisms and the OK missions, Thief still feels a little flat. The voice acting is flat, the scenery is flat in the most part and traversing the map is, you’ve guessed it, a pain in the arse … and flat. It’s clear that they wanted you to explore the map and steal from anyone and everyone (even the poor, like a messed up Robin Hood – have I used that reference already?), but getting around is overly difficult and, despite how hard you look, you’ll mostly just be stealing forks, cups and pocket portraits. That’s where Thief really falls short. It takes real energy to find the decent loot and the game just isn’t good enough to keep you playing on to find it. It’s a shame, because it had the potential to be so much more. If you loved Dishonoured, you’ll love Thief. If you hated Dishonoured, then stay well clear. I myself was a bit so-so over Dishonoured and, for me, Thief is rather the same. I’d never say that it’s a waste of money buying it. I’d just wait until it gets a little cheaper is all.