You have to love the shadows! If it was a life to be had then in the shadows I would hide….well until the other half came looking at which point I don’t really have a choice.
So I had the opportunity to play Thief on the Xbox One. For some of us old veteran gamers, Thief started out on the PC and was a critical success as a stealth based game where quite often alerting the guards meant painful and grisly deaths while also the new game engine meant the ragdoll style bodies made for comical moments when you stacked bodies on top of each other. I used to watch friends play this game on the PC for hours at a time and loved the whole immersion. Now was my chance to play this myself and away from the boding PC system and onto the much more refined (attempts to hide the snort of laughter at such comment) Xbox One.
First off, the port across from PC to console is a comfortable one. It works very well and the controls are easy to manage. So a tick in that box.
The game itself looks great, even if it was a straight off move from the 360 to the X1. While I have heard moans and groans of the lack of next gen style graphics or games, I was still pleasantly surprised by how good this game looked. The detail in the areas, particularly the town area where your clock tower home is based help to immerse yourself into this typically looking Medieval London looking set up.
So the gameplay itself…. Well let’s do a pro’s and con’s. Firstly for a stealth based game, it certainly lets you do exactly that but at the same time not ruling out your slightly less tactical minded chums where the game allows you to kill kill kill instead of sneaking around all the time. The game actually welcomes it by giving you a breakdown of your gameplay after each level/mission where it splits it down to Ghost, Opportunist and Predator. If you crept through the game without a sign of you being there, your set as a Ghost while if you kill everything in sight, your set as a predator and with this, you are given challenges suited to your gameplay style. So a great idea there to continue from the likes of other stealth game style franchises.
Another pro is that the developers have attempted to keep as much of the traditional Thief gameplay elements in the game, including the different style of arrows and equipment, the option to pickpocket from the shadows and the all entrusting blackjack to knock out enemies instead of killing them. Yes, if you are looking for reprise from the earlier days in your gaming life, this is a great choice!
For me though, I just love the whole style that significantly reminds me of Mirrors Edge. Adding an element of parkour in the gameplay, you get to be a real chancer trying to stay out of sight from the enemy while getting the opportunity to incorporate acrobatic skills that can make you sit back after a successful stint and think ‘wow, I made that look good!’.
The game is smooth and stylish while also holding a great storyline. I’ve heard some reviews complain about its short campaign and admittedly while I haven’t completed the game just yet, what I have seen so far makes me feel confident that this is a good pick up purchase.
So the negatives that jump out… One is it can be too linear at times. You want to be a thief, you want to be swinging/jumping/vaulting from rooftop to rooftop, grappling onto wooden blocks protruding from the side of buildings! You want to have the chance to sneak around in ways that the older game couldn’t process. Unfortunately, while the game does allow multiple routes on some of its maps, there have been times where I’ve wanted to do a certain simple routine and yet found myself stuck with the developers only providing some simplistic options that can lose some of the magic from the gameplay. Developers – You have the tech, you have the resources to make it happen, don’t rest on your laurels with limitations just to get the game out to the public, you have a duty to make an effort to stun your audience and a game like this should stand out on that front.
Another negative is the AI intelligence. This is always hard when making a game based purely on stealth (you are essentially asking a system that is aware of everything going on in its programming to ignore some parts of it) but sometimes it can be a little too naïve where sometimes you can get away with something’s that you were expecting to be caught doing and then there are other times where you sit in the shadows, smug in the mindset that not even the rats scrawling past you can see you squatting there and low behold a guard walking past suddenly catches your glimmer and chases you down with the enthusiasm of a child given a baseball bat and told to hit the piñata. Naturally this is a game limitation but frustrating none the less.
These are the two really significant things that grated my gears in the game but there are lesser annoying moments although they don’t really impact the game, just my obsession at being a perfectionist.
Personally stepping away from the game and looking at it from a subjective standing, I would say the developers have done well to create this game. What they can do is hold their heads high knowing that they have achieved a successfully great looking game but know what to do going forwards for a sequel. Iron out those little frustrations and what you have here is a stealth game that lives up to its history. Well worth a pick-up people if you like your stealth and silent murders!