Thief Review: Sticking to the Shadows

At times, it feels like Eidos wanted to make Garrett into less of a thief, and more of a “good guy.” But the essence of Thief has always been that Garrett robs from the rich, the poor, or whoever, to give to himself, and anything that detracts from that lessens his character considerably. Thief also does a poor job of disguising plot twists, and as a result, you’ll most likely know what’s coming before the game lets you in on the secret.

While you can certainly replay the story as many times as you want, Eidos also included three challenge modes, which are surprisingly fun. There’s a Chain & Gain mode, in which you have to steal as much loot as you can, with each piece adding time to the clock and points to your total, and nabbing items in quick succession builds up a multiplier for even more points. There’s a variation on that mode with a fixed timer, and then there’s Special Loot Hunt, which tasks you with interpreting hot and cold indicators to find a single piece of loot. Once you grab it, a new piece appears. All of these challenges include online leaderboards, so you can brag to your friends about how much loot you lifted the last time through.

Overall, Thief is a modernized take on the classic formula, and that’s honestly its biggest problem. The series has never been about boss fights, or saving the city. It’s been about Garrett enriching himself as much as possible. In the original Thief, Garrett repays a crime lord for trying to assassinate him by burgling his mansion, not through violence. However, in the quest to make a game that appeals to as many modern gamers as possible, Eidos has monkeyed with the formula, and it hasn’t done the game any favors. While the replayable challenge modes are fun, I can’t help but think that the time spent on these would have been better invested in opening up the world a bit more.

Still, Thief has moments where it adheres to that classic feel, and that’s where it really shines. You’re a master thief, after all. Operating from the shadows should feel great, and it does. It’s just a shame that the great sneaking gameplay has been wedded to a story that doesn’t quite feel like it fits the classic character you’re cast as. It doesn’t ruin the game, but it definitely keeps it from living up to its potential.

Pros:

  • Tight stealth gameplay
  • The City is a well-realized setting, with a great feel
  • Massive customization options
  • Open-play areas between missions offer lots of exploration

Cons:

  • Enemy AI that leaves much to be desired
  • A story that gets more confusing and disjointed as it goes along
  • Lack of multiple pathways in missions can feel limiting

Final Score: 75/100


Game Front employs a 100-point scale when reviewing games to be as accurate about the experience as possible. Read the full rundown of what our review scores mean.


Ron Whitaker is the managing editor at Game Front. Read more of his work here, and follow him and Game Front on Twitter: @ffronw and @gamefrontcom.

Join the Conversation   

* required field

By submitting a comment here you grant GameFront a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate or irrelevant comments will be removed at an admin's discretion.

5 Comments on Thief Review: Sticking to the Shadows

sguest

On February 27, 2014 at 4:19 pm

In the first 2 games Garret does not intend to save the city, but actually succeds in doing it. Also Thief Dark Project is known for having the Trickster at the end as a boss.

AxΣtwin

On February 27, 2014 at 10:54 pm

Not to mention that even in the classic games, the rope arrows only work on specific surfaces. Nor have I EVER played a stealth game where the guards have noticed that a chest is opened with the contents inside missing.

Ron Whitaker

On February 28, 2014 at 5:27 am

@Axetwin – I realize that the rope arrow worked the same way in the classic games, but this version of Thief offered up maybe 10 places to effectively use the rope arrow throughout the game. I thought I had said that in there, but apparently I left that sentence out in one of the edits. Sorry about that.

As to the chests, you’d think a guard would notice the lid of a chest standing open. They’re fairly large items, and the guards are patrolling right beside it continuously. At least, I’d expect them to. That they don’t is a disappointment.

ekkko

On March 1, 2014 at 12:19 am

The funny thing is the guards AI actually does “pay attention” to open/closed chests/doors/etc., but is extremely inconsistent. Here an example:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=ctfPVDtbrhs#t=650

Dach

On April 1, 2014 at 8:41 am

With the forced depth-of-field, blurred edges to the screen and constant shakey-cam I couldn’t play this game for more than twenty minutes without needing to vomit. . . .

Which is a shame since whatever my stomach could handle seemed fairly entertaining.