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Thief (Review)

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Image courtesy of Square Enix.
Image courtesy of Square Enix.

The months since the launch of the Playstation 4 have been sparse as far as major releases, and Eidos Montreals’ Thief seemed a promise of breaking the drought with stealthy game play and looting to your hearts’ content. Although Thief is a refreshing effort that breaks from the normal first-person shooter, it definitely comes with frustrations that somewhat mar the fun of thievery.

Image courtesy of Square Enix.
Image courtesy of Square Enix.

Story

Thief revolves around the master black hand Garrett, as he expertly plunders the City of its valuables. He gets partnered with the blunt and impulsive Erin on a job to steal an ancient relic called the Primal. Things inevitably go wrong, leaving Garrett with a mutated eye, Erin missing, and the entire city in turmoil from a disease called the Gloom.

With this, the game starts out with a decent premise, but falters in giving Garrett any real motivation outside of him being a simple thief when the game obviously wants to paint a much bigger picture. As Garrett progresses, he gets more enveloped in an Illuminati-esque scheme and he comes off as very irritated about the whole thing, making piloting him an absolute chore for the first three chapters.

The games’ pace does pick up at chapter four (with a trot through an insane asylum and sneaking through a violent uprising) until the final eighth one, but gives up at a lackluster ending as if the writers weren’t sure how to end it (a problem that plagued one of the studios’ previous games: Deus Ex Human Revolution).

Story: 3/5

Image courtesy of Square Enix.
Image courtesy of Square Enix.

Gameplay

Now this is where Thief truly shines. Players are given access to a slew of arrows used for combat, environment interaction, and avoiding detection. The city Garrett is in is rife with secret passages and hidden pathways for the master thief to crawl, climb, or sneak his way into.

The game doesn’t usually encourage against direct combat with enemies, but it’s surprisingly very open to the play style. Combat is difficult to get used to since Garrett has a weak melee for up-close encounters but with practice, it works well for what it is.

Undoubtedly the best part about Thief is the sidequests where you get to actually, you know, steal things. Lock-picking and using your Focus ability to undo traps or puzzles feels simple and fun every time. Most extra jobs in the city are a cut and dry formula (go here, steal this, get money), but some others have a few interesting back stories, which makes the thievery all the more fun.

Gameplay: 4/5

Image courtesy of Square Enix.
Image courtesy of Square Enix.

Graphics and Sound

Touting the PS4’s higher graphics processing than past consoles, Thief definitely shines in the looks department for the most part. The cityscape is dark but also slightly modern, reminiscent of Dishonored with fewer steampunk elements. Garrett’s design is also a nice blend of a newer style and his costume from the original games. At times however, some cutscenes had a hard time playing smoothly and texture pop is a bit of a problem during game transitions.

Sound is a different issue, as it is a common problem for a cutscene to to play with characters speaking wildly out of turn with their lip-sync. There is also the problem of random chatter not fading out or stopping for a cutscene, forcing the player to relive a bad movie theater experience as they strain to hear the main dialogue over an NPC trading insults with their peers. Aside from this, the sound effects for weapons, environment, and actions were surprisingly well done. Romano Orzari at times sounds a little too broody, but delivers fairly well as the voice of Garrett.

Graphics and sound: 3/5

Thief is a game that appeals to those who like to take their time and enjoy all of its details. The action is lulling at points and often the biggest thrill players will get is via sneaking past hoards of guards or finding a hidden cache of treasures. Its lingering sound syncing issues and slightly mediocre story don’t make it worthy of a $60 price tag, even for those who love stealth action. It’s a nice addition to the PS4 library, but not necessarily one that defines it just yet.

Overall score: 3.0

Note: The PlayStation 4 version of Thief was utilized for this review, but the game is available on multiple platforms such as PC, Xbox One, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360, therefore performance issues between versions may vary.

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