- Xbox One
Thief has always been a game centered around stealing and not getting caught in the process. The title of that game pretty much gives that away. I spent a decent amount of time playing Thief 3: Deadly Shadows and I enjoyed it. I had played a couple of games from the stealth genre but I preferred Thief for a number of reasons. The latest Thief game was free for Xbox Live Gold subscription members in December and I finished the story mode last night. Did it live up to my expectations and do justice for the franchise?
There is a large part of me that wants to say yes. Yes it did the franchise justice and it lived up to and almost surpassed my expectations but unfortunately there were too many issues that got under my skin and kind of ruined the game and dragged my final score down.
Majority of the cut scenes just really suck. The frame rate will drop and the sound will lag behind the characters or vice versa. There were some instances where I thought my headphones weren’t working because every time there was an explosion or crash, no sound came through. The background noise and music was there but no explosion noise. Even the music was out of sync at times. You wouldn’t think that missing those sounds would be such a big deal but a cut scene serves as a break between missions which in this game is a generous hour or so if you are like me and want to steal everything and complete the mission challenges. When the cut scenes are terrible and laggy it really ruins the experience.
My other major issue was the frame rate. Frame rate issues are the worst and luckily majority of the games that I’ve been playing have been free from the curse of the Frame Rate. However, add some fire to a scene and you have one very laggy thief. At one point a new area gets unlocked but all the buildings are burning and there is a lot fire a smoke. This is the worst area to maneuver through because it just lags horribly. I also noticed that if you attempt to sprint at any point the frame rate would drop. While majority of players won’t run around, it is a function and it should be smooth.
My last and biggest issue is with the map and its layout. There were some aspects which I liked which I will cover later on. As you progress through the story mode, you gain access to other areas of the city. These areas are quite large and it takes some time to get use to the layout, which is fine. However, I became increasingly frustrated when I would accept a side quest and it happened to be on the complete other side of the map. I would have to transition between two areas and still endure the loading screen between each transition. It became a schlep and really ruined the fun of exploring the city and looting everything.
Now for some positivity. Garrett’s new character design looks awesome. His persona feels exactly the same as Thief 3 and he really looks like a badass thief. The gadgets are back and not much has changed. I loved how the core aspects, mechanics and features from the previous games weren’t removed and replaced with new stuff. The water arrows and fire arrows are still there, the lock picking mechanic is simple and fun to do and sneaking around feels the same but more polished and easier to do.
The game looks great too. The environments are nicely detailed and sometimes the loot is hard to find. The lighting system works well and when playing outside areas, the lighting flashes will make you visible to your enemies for a second. Enemies carry torches which light up an area around them and they even notice when a torch goes out. I never felt betrayed by shadowy areas. If it looks like a dark area then the guards won’t see you. I felt like a predator while I was sneaking around. While the game maintains and encourages you to be as stealthy as possible, you can go and fight every enemy you come across if you feel like it. There were a few times where I was either getting frustrated with having to sneak around guards in the same area for the tenth time or thought I should just give the combat a try. I didn’t particularly enjoy it. It has a pretty simple mechanic of dodge, strike, repeat but it just didn’t feel as rewarding as stalking a guard in the shadows and then taking him down and dragging the body away silently.
A master thief doesn’t kill, he isn’t an assassin. A thief will sneak into a house and steal all the valuables and then leave without a trace. Yes, sometimes a guard will be in the way but a quick hit to the head and he can be dragged into the darkness. Then you are free to go grab all the loot. That is how I remember Thief and how I play Thief. Looting felt very rewarding. You get to search cupboards, drawers, shelves, tables, chest and safes in the hope that it will contain something shiny. It was an extremely rewarding feeling to end a mission and see that you looted all the valuables, and it’s an even better feeling when you weren’t detected while doing that.
I won’t spoil the story of the game but it was disappointing. The side quests had interesting little quest descriptions which give you some background or reason to break into a room and steal a specific item. There were two secondary quest givers and I really enjoyed doing their missions. I feel like future titles should focus more on those kind of missions. They were short, sweet and fun. The overall story for the game was average and predictable. There has always been a supernatural element to the Thief games and that element was in this one too but it lacked any serious content.
Overall Thief was fun yet marred by obvious flaws which ruined the experience. Do I want a sequel? Hell yes. A sequel would allow the studio to take all the feedback it received and help them produce an even better game without changing any of the core mechanics.
//A fun and rewarding stealth game that’s unfortunately plagued by a number of annoying issues. Far from perfect but acceptable. //