Review : Thief (Video game)

(By Joannie Leblanc)

I am a big fan of the Thief/Dark Project franchise. Those games are part the reasons why I’m studying video game creation. Everything in those games are amazing: the dark ambiance they put you in, like if you are a master of the shadow, the greed you have by trying to get 100% of the loot, the fun you have by creating a diversion to escape from the guards… They force you to think about every possible strategy to enter a building and discover every secret. So far I’ve finished the Thief series a multiple of times, a 100% complete without getting spotted or having to knock out anyone, and I was very happy when I learned that Thief 3 would have a sequel. Thief 4 was very fun to play, and the graphics were amazing, but a few things were missing, and I hope to see those things in a Thief 5. Here is my full review of Thief 4, playing on Master difficulty, ghost gameplay…

The graphics are amazing. There are enough polygons on characters so that we don’t see much of their edges. The clothes they wear, the weapons they have, everything is well-made. The streets look very realistic. They don’t seem empty at all. They are full of small things like boxes, barrels, vases, merchant stalls, carts and rubbish. The textures are also great. You can see that a lot of work as been put into those. The leather looks rough and worn, the velvet looks soft and expensive, the stones and wooden planks look dirty and cold, and you can even see skin pores on characters! The lights and shadows that help you across the levels are very well used. Not too much shadows to make it easy to travel, and not too much light that would seem overdone. Torches, street lamps, oil lamps and « primal effect » do a really good job to create the mood. The music is great as well. I was very surprised to hear dubstep, but I found it a good idea. I also liked the fact that the music change drastically when you are spotted. Good job.

The mechanics were very easy to understand. You have the same weapons from before and the same way to move without being seen. There’s one thing that really annoyed me, you cannot jump!!! You can’t ask me to play a first person game without being able to jump. Sometime a jump can save your life… I still had the feeling that people playing the predatory way were more rewarded than people playing the rightful way. There was some loots almost inaccessible unless by knocking out guards, either because you had to be in the lights for too long or because guards from very far could see you… a bug maybe? There is also the part were you slip yourself between planks and crates by holding E. In the middle of the transition, you have to press E very fast to move a plank. I didn’t understood what was the utility of this action in the gameplay, maybe if the player could damage his health by not pressing E fast enough would be better. I also found the missions easy. To enter the building, you have 3 choices: Front door, opened window or the ventilation grid. In the other Thief games, you could use the sewers, find multiple secret panels, use underground ways and even use the fireplace. Usually, there is so many ways to go to an objective that you don’t usually escape by the way you went in. There was also not enough civilians or guards, it was so easy to move that I always thought that something would jump from behind.

The narrative is what deceived me in this game. I was very eager to see Viktoria again. She is a major character of the main story, and in Thief 3,  it looked almost as if you would see her again. She took your eye for Constantine in Thief 1 and she saved you from father Karras in Thief 2. I though that she would be in Thief 4, but nope. She has to be in Thief 5. She brings so much mysteries in Garrett’s world. I was also very surprise that they was no mention of Garrett’s mechanical eye that replaced the one that Viktoria took. Didn’t Constantine whispered in Garrett’s mind that he would come back to take the other one? When Garrett steals from a museum in Thief 3, he find his lost eye on a statue and when you approach it, you can hear Constantine voice…At least Basso was still there.

Thief is amazing regarding the graphics and the ambiance, but the mission are too shorts, too easy and had the felling that there was only one way to do them, regardless of wanting to be detected or not. The fact that there was only 2 characters from the prequels was very deceiving. I’m still going to play Thief 4 a second time to try to finish it at 100%, but I will not have as much fun as with Thief 1, 2 or 3. I hope there will be a Thief 5, with the real sequel, with Viktoria, maybe with Keepers or with Constantine, or with the Lost city for a fourth time. 🙂

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