|System: Xbox One, PS3, PC*, PS4, Xbox 360|
|Dev: Eidos Montreal|
|Pub: Square Enix|
|Release: February 25, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs, Violence|
That leads to one of the primary issues with Thief: it reboots a beloved series but never finds its own identity. The fascinating society from the original Thief games has been removed—the inventive societal factions who spoke in a colorful vernacular have been replaced by generic baddies who say “f*ck” a lot. The City itself is mired in perpetual gray-brown gloom, with technology and props that appear to have been flown in hodgepodge as though we're on the island from LOST. It's oddly empty for a place that's supposed to be full of hopeless, teeming masses. They're not on the streets, but you don't tend to encounter them in their homes, either. It has supernatural elements (as the original series did), but the world-building isn't good enough to support them.
Garret himself has been subjected to this reboot's scalpel. He retains a bit of his original personality, but it's difficult to get a handle on him due to a highly inconsistent vocal performance. It feels as though his new actor was called back repeatedly over the course of years to re-record lines. Sometimes he has a bit of a “street” accent, sometimes he doesn't. Sometimes he feels like he's supposed to be like the original Garret, other times he sounds like an imitation of the Man in the Suit from Person of Interest. The cries that he makes when hit by a trap sound like they were recorded by a different person entirely.
In fact, the entire sound design seems off somewhat. Conversations often sound far away, then suddenly feel like they are mere inches away when Garret turns a corner. I was driven crazy by trying unsuccessfully to locate guards by sound, until finally deciding to rely on peeking around corners or finding a high vantage point. Perhaps this issue has been fixed in the release version of the game or is unique to the PC version, but it certainly took away from the game for me.
If you can get over its artificial restraints, inconsistencies in design, and generic atmosphere, there's fun to be had in Thief. The stealth elements are done well for the most part, and using the swoop move that allows Garrett to dart between shadows is enjoyable. There are a million treasures to plunder and the game provides challenges for players who wish to take an aggressive, stealthy, or opportunistic approach to the levels. I was personally unimpressed with these challenges, finding them simply an extension of the game's hand-holding approach, but I can see their appeal for players who love to collect achievements.
I'll be blunt: if you loved the original Thief series, you won't enjoy this game. If you have never played the original Thief games, there's some enjoyment to be had, but there are other stealth-heavy games around that are a far better overall package than this one. Thief has a few good ideas, but they're dragged down by the game's design as a whole. With available games that let us freely scale the outside of those wooden castles of old, why should we settle for one that sticks us on a plastic kiddy playground?
Date: February 25, 2014