Thief (Video Game Review)

Thief is an all new open world adventure from publisher Square Enix and their Eidos Montreal development studio. The game is the fourth release for the stealth series originally released for PC back in 1998. The new release doesn't feature a storyline that quite fits with the same narrative from the other games, but the new Thief does see the return of Garret as the game's lead protagonist. The character has been a thief for his entire life, but the current situation of the city in which he lives and his current emotional state will make the robber soon question the way he has led his life. The game introduces some new game mechanics, weapons and other great ideas for the series, and Thief should be considered among the best games currently available for the new generation of console gaming, though the game performs well across all platforms.

The new storyline finds Garret, the Master Thief, in a familiar location with some friendly faces for longtime fans of the series, but the times have changed, and the new Thief is a much darker tale than what has been presented in previous releases. The city is on the brink of a revolution with the progression of technology, economic troubles and a plague of a deadly disease all pulling its citizens in different directions. The leader of the city is corrupt and seems to only be driven by greed, while there is a voice of the people known as Orion that is constantly fighting to free the people of the city. Garret enters this world in the new game while facing problems of his own when his former protege returns and turns out to not be following all of the rules Garret has taught her. The storyline presented in Thief is a good one full of great acting performances, and a lengthy campaign of around 10-20 hours will have players wrapped up in this new adventure for quite a while.

Gameplay in Thief is somewhat comparable to what would happen if Dishonored and the Assassin's Creed series had a baby. The game boasts an open world that is ready to fully explore from early on in the game, and there are plenty of different missions attained in the game that will require Garret to do more than perform acts of thievery as the title of the game would suggest. Garret moves fluidly through the world and will need to stick to the shadows and rooftops to remain undetected in missions. A special meter known as the Focus meter allows Garret to see the world through different eyes to uncover climbable objects in the environment, items that can be manipulated to gain advantage over enemies such as putting out the candle in a lantern or to slow time to allow players to more easily take out enemies in combat.

Players will have a variety of different weapons when they do choose to fight rather than running and hiding from enemies when spotted. A large baton known as the blackjack is the primary weapon for dealing melee damage, while a bow is used to take out targets from a distance. The bow is likely the weapon the majority of players will use throughout the game to solve certain scenarios whether using water arrows to extinguish a light, an arrow full of knockout gas to take down unsuspecting guards or going for the kill with piercing arrows to the head. Garret can dodge out of the way of incoming attacks and attempt counterattacks with his weapons as well, but the man is a thief, not a killer, and would prefer to only stun enemies or otherwise get away with loot without engaging in much fighting.

Garret returns to a central city location and a clock tower hideout after completing missions. Players can then check on their current progress in the game or return to previous missions with abilities and equipment currently unlocked. Players can also head to the local Blacksmith to purchase upgrades and abilities such as a larger quiver to hold more arrows, a higher quality lock pick to make stealing items from secure areas easier or increase the power and efficiency of the bow with a number of different upgrades. Focus upgrades are also available that allow Garret to gain new skills such as quieter movements, an ability to hear enemies more easily or an ability to lose Focus at a slower rate. The upgrade system isn't as extensive as some other games and definitely shouldn't be confused with a leveling system of an RPG system, and some players are sure to find the amount of upgrades and customization options available for Garret a bit disappointing.

Thief offers the flexibility for players to choose how they want to progress through the different missions in the game. Online leaderboard ranking will reflect a player's preferred playstyle from the silent assassin to a clumsy thief, and it's interesting to see what type of missions change a player's tactics in the game. Most missions are more easily completed while remaining undetected by enemies and citizens alike. Distracting guards, using shadows to the player's advantage and staying far out of sight are all helpful in being a master of stealth, but some players will choose to simply rush in head first and fight enemies to get through areas. This can work to be sure, but combat in the game isn't easy and requires quickly taking out one enemy after another without letting the numbers get too overwhelming. There are plenty of missions outsides of the game's main story missions that will introduce players to a number of colorful characters including a brothel mistress and mysterious beggars in the city slums. There are also some hidden collectibles scattered around the city for players that are interested in completing everything in the game.

There are also three different challenge modes included in Thief to give players something to do outside of the game's main campaign. Chain & Gain is a race against the clock to steal as much treasure as possible. Successfully grabbing an item adds more time to the clock, but players always have to watch out for guards and other enemies that will quickly ruin a good session. Chain & Gain Limited is a similar mode with a fixed time limit where players cannot gain additional time and must still try to quickly gather as many valuables as possible. Special Loot Hunt is the final and most enjoyable of the three mode, as players race around environments in search of a target item to steal as indicated by a hot and cold meter in the game's heads up display. Each mode adds a bit of additional fun to have in Thief even after the game's campaign has been completed, and challenge modes come with unique leaderboards to allow gamers to measure themselves against fellow robbers.

Thief looks great running on new consoles and high-end PCs, but players won't notice a huge difference between any of the versions. The best lighting and shadow effects are present in the newest generation versions of the game, though character models, animations and other graphical features remain great looking across all platforms. The game controls well and runs smoothly, but there is a bit of a learning curve on consoles with button mapping that is very unconventional and takes some time to master. There are some good voice actors present in Thief, though there are a few instances where the citizens in the game seem to sound out of place in the game's world. Other parts of sound design are spot on though, which is very important in a game where stealth and the noise created by players and enemies is of vital importance.

Thief isn't perfect, but it's a very entertaining experience that looks great on all platforms and is a lot of fun to play. Some features aren't as detailed as we'd like, and there a few other minor gripes with the game, but it's an overall rewarding experience that makes players feel like a true Master Thief. There is a wide variety of missions that challenges gamers to master many different skills in thievery in the game, and a good storyline with some interesting characters and plot twists will have players addicted from the opening mission. Multiple difficulty settings, online leaderboards and challenge modes give players reasons to come back and enjoy the game after completing it for the first time, and there is a good amount of content already included in the game to make it worth a purchase on any platform. Thief is a truly next generation experience on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and players would be doing themselves a favor by adding it to their game library today.

Thief will release for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC on February 25 for $59.99. Thief is rated M by the ESRB for Blood, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs & Violence. For more information on the game, check out the official Thief website.

Game Features:
  • Single Player
  • Replay Missions Anytime
  • 3 Challenge Game Modes
  • Online Leaderboards
  • Trophy/Achievement Support

Game Information:
Developer: Eidos Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One (reviewed), Xbox 360 & PC
Release Date: February 25, 2014

Score: 9 out of 10
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