A 'Thief' In The Night

February 25, 2014

In 1998, Thief: The Dark Project snuck onto PCs, and helped define the stealth genre. The original game and its successors (2000's The Metal Age and 2004's Deadly Shadows) put stealth games on the map by forcing gamers to be tactical while playing their action games; straight ahead, guns ablazin' suddenly wasn't the smartest way to approach a room full of bad guys. Using the shadows as cover, making as little noise as possible, and slipping in and out undetected was now the name of the game. These early releases made games like Splinter Cell, Hitman and Assassin's Creed possible, and their tradition continues today with the release of Thief, the fourth game in the franchise. The latest entry continues to explore the steampunk-inspired world of Garrett as he reclaims the spot as The City's most wanted criminal.

Developer: Eidos Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix

It's been five years since Thief 4 was announced in 2009, and a lot can happen in that time. While the development team at Eidos Montreal hasn't changed, the platforms that the game was targeting did, and Thief made the jump to the latest generation of hardware. Eidos Montreal is fairly new, and their work (from a separate team within the studio) has only really been showcased in 2011's Deus Ex: Human Revolution. They have also worked on the multiplayer for Tomb Raider as well as an iOS and Android version of Deus Ex called The Fall. Thief will be only their second full-scale console release.

Being a master thief can have its drawbacks, just look at the main character in Thief. Aside from being the most wanted criminal in The City, Garrett has to deal with being haunted by his former partner and the mysterious illness that has swept through his home, all while trying to figure out just what happened to him for the last year when he went missing. Garrett must play the role and act like a thief in the night, sneaking around the city, pilfering anything that isn't nailed down, and collecting bits and pieces about what has befallen the city. Players step into his well-worn boots as he pieces together the clues, ducking in and out of shadows for cover, and busting out his trusty bow to take down some guards when necessary.

Thief is one of the latest games to span multiple generations of game consoles as it lands on both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, as well as the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. Oh, and you can't forget PC either. The game is likely to look better and feel smoother on the newer consoles, but the PS4 may edge out all the competition for one simple reason: the Move sensor. The lightbar on the top of the controller reacts to how much light is shining on Garrett in the game by glowing brighter if he is in direct light, and dimming if he is in the dark. It's a small touch, but well worth mentioning nonetheless.

Is Thief going to live up to fan expectations? Probably not, but you can pretty much say that about any games that are being released 15 years after its original. At it's core Thief is a middle of the road, first-person stealth game, which is not something you see every day. It does a lot of different things: from the light and dark mechanics, to the fairly open world environment, to the character development for Garrett. However, it doesn't masterfully execute any of them. That doesn't mean that Thief is a bad game by any means. There is something really enjoyable about approaching a mission and trying to go completely undetected throughout the whole thing. Choosing a path may boil down to taking the high road or the low road, but when you find that hidden grate to take the third option, it's as satisfying as cracking the code on one of the game's safes. Thief falls victim of the old adage, "you get what you give," and if you invest yourself into this game, you'll get quite a bit back. From the simple satisfaction of pickpocketing one of the guards, to finding out just what happened in that year that Garrett lost, there's always a little something to keep you going in Thief.