October 1, 2019 at 3:05 PM #1413
Rating: 3.0 – Fair
Should’ve Stayed in the Shadows
The Thief franchise has been missing in action since its last release in 2004 of Thief: Deadly Shadows. Now ten years later, Eidos Montreal has decided to revitalize our lost friend Garret with a next generation reboot of the cult classic series. Using the power of next gen as well as brand new mechanics, Thief has the promise of pleasing older fans as well as welcoming newer fans to the series. Can Thief steal away the hearts of true stealth genre fans or has Eidos Montreal attempt of bringing this franchise to the new age failed?
Garret is Back
One again you are put into the stealthy shoes of our slick and charismatic protagonist Garret. After a long hiatus, Garret has returned to his hometown, a place simply known as "The City". The City is not what Garret once knew it to be. To his surprise he finds out that it is being ruled by the ruthless tyrant know as The Baron. The city is also plagued by disease. Garret is not your typical protagonist. He is not Robin Hood and Garret find no pleasure in stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. Garret sees this opportunity to make things go into his favor. After the opening events of Thief, Garret now has a personal stake in what is happening around his hometown. The plot isn’t anything really worth investing your time into. Luckily the side missions are more interesting than the story. Their are side plots you can take on by talking to some of the residents in The City. Unfortunately the story all together isn’t anything memorable at all and their isn’t really any other characters outside of Garret to make you care about.
Hiding in the Shadows
At its core, Thief is a true stealth game. Their are plenty of different ways to be a thief as well. First thing you will have to do is set your difficulty and options. I absolutely loved the difficulty customization implemented here. First you choose between easy, medium and hard as usual but then the game allows you to make the experience even harder if you so choose. For example you can set limitations for yourself such as an automatic fail if you are spotted, knockout or kill anyone. You can also completely turn of your focus abilities (which I’ll explain later), turn off food (heath) consumption and above all else the most hardcore setting is the "Iron Man" setting which forces you to start the game over from the beginning if you fail in anyway. These settings are crucial for players like myself who enjoy the play the game at the hardest possible settings.
If you decide pure stealth isn’t your thing, fret not. There are other of ways for Garret to get his itchy hands on those valuables. Garret main weapon is his bow and arrow and his blackjack. There are several different arrows Garret can use. Fire arrows can be used to set oil on fire to burn guards of simply distract them so you can slither by in the shadows. Water arrows can help create those shadows by shooting out flames. Other arrows such as rope arrows helps Garret create different paths for himself. Garret blackjack can be used to knock a few of those guards backside their heads if their in your way.
The focus power I mentioned earlier is a special power Garret earns early in the game. Along with combat upgrades, focus main use is aiding Garret to do the two best things he does best…steal and stay hidden. Their are tons of things for Garret to steal. If it’s not nailed to the ground, Garret can pick it up and put it in his bottomless pockets. Using focus helps highlight these items in blue. Focus can guide Garret to the rare collectibles as well as cabinets and dresser than can be opened and hidden in. Focus also helps Garret do things such as slow time down while he picks the locks on doors or stay hidden for a while longer when he is not in the shadows. There’s is a circle in the HUD that will show you if Garret is considered hidden or not. Focus can also give you motion sensors once upgraded to show you the paths guards are taken.
The City is the open area in Thief. While in The City you will be given side mission to accomplish which obviously you are tasked to steal things. Unfortunately, the map is extremely annoying to try to navigate. There are tons of dead ends and you will find yourself getting lost just trying to get to an area that seemed pretty simple to get to. In other words the map is a maze. The level design is clunky and The City is broken down into sections, all which require loading times. This breaks away from the experience and can really get annoying especially when you get lost and end up going the wrong way.
Combat mechanics are also broken. Yes, I know you shouldn’t be getting in combat in a stealth game but every so often it happens and when it does it is a frustrating task. Guards will take turns hitting you and you dodging and swinging back. There really isn’t any depth to it at all and seems almost like a mini game. My advice is to just run away and try stealth again. The AI is hit or miss as well. Enemy AI can sometimes be really good. If you leave any trace of your presence such as open doors, unlocked safes, dead bodies, or even shutting off or on lights guards will notice and begin searching for you. This is great but unfortunately sometimes the guards will get stuck on walls or completely no notice you when your right in front of their face. Countless times I literally walked right under the nose of a guard and he didn’t even blink an eye. I played on master difficulty so I can only imagine how bad it would be on easier difficulties. There are also challenge maps outside of the story that allows you to go into an area of the game and compete with friends by tallying up a score by stealing items from guards and areas. Your score can be uploaded on the leaderboards so you can see who’s the best thief on your friends list.
Very surprisingly this is the first Xbox One game I’ve played where Kinect voice commands actually came in handy for me. I have to admit after a few bad experiences in other games I was hesitant to even give it a try. I turned off Kinect for the first half of the game until I got stuck in between a rock and a hard place and really needed to distract a guard. I turned it on and yelled at the screen and the guard heard me and went investigating leaving me room to slither past him. After that moment I kept it on and used it when need. So kudos to Eidos Montreal for doing what many others developers have failed to do by making voice commands useful in an actual game. Like I stated earlier, Thief is a stealth game at its core and when playing stealthy, Thief has its moments when it shines. Sadly these moments are to far and between other annoyances.
Not So Smooth
Thief is game available on next gen consoles but it plays and feels like a last gen game. Graphically there is an improvement but only slight and there are a few last gen games that even look better. Lighting is awesome thankfully because of the importance of light in a game like this is crucial but that’s really the only graphically aspect that stands out. Character models are stiff and textures are bland. Like I said earlier, the loading times are plentiful. Everywhere you go there will be a loading screen that breaks away from the experience. Framerate is an issue as well. On Xbox One, Thief runs at a native 900p resolution 30 frames per second. The framerate drops every so often and when it does it is noticeable. Sounds are also terrible. Countless times in The City (lost of course) I heard citizens rambling about events going on. The issue was voice acting and words being spoken over each other. While hearing people talk you would hear and echo of them talking as if the same person was repeating what they were saying just a second of two later. Lip syncing was also bad. During cutscenes there are times where the words being spoken where ahead of the person actually saying them. Thief is plagued with technically issues like these all over and they are hard to ignore.
A Lengthy Adventure
Thief is roughly a 15-20 hour game if you include side mission. Much longer if you are a completionist and want to collect the hundreds and hundreds of loot lying around. Your playstyle will also determine the length and replayability of this game. Playing all stealth will obviously take longer to do and after you complete it you may want to replay through and reign havoc on those guards who kept spotting you. It is also a lot easier to obtain collectibles if you have the harder options turn off. After completion of the game you are allowed to freely roam The City as you see fit and complete any side quest you haven’t already. Thief replayability is all determined upon you. If you aren’t really the completionist type of gamer then a single playthrough will likely satisfy your appetite.
+Good Stealth Aspect
+Useful Kinect Functionality
-Hit or Miss AI
-Horrendous Technical Issues
Thief is a perfect example of game that could have been a great reboot but just failed to hit its mark. Thief is plagued with technical issues as well as some gameplay flaws that make the overall experience a forgettable one at best. Garret return to the gaming universe has not been a good one and Eidos Montreal should have just kept this game in the shadows for a while longer.
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