The title's lying. The shadows aren't deadly. In Thief, the shadows are your friends. Stay there, and predate upon the weak and... oh, waitasec. They mean you're deadly in the shadows. Problem solved. Start again.
In a moment of beautiful convergence, the first Thief appeared at the same time as the original Metal Gear Solid. Except it was even more stealthy and has been just as influential. Splinter Cell? Just Thief with tech stuff minus the freeform nature. Manhunt? Thief with the ability to saw off people's heads with a bloody cheese wire. WWE Raw? Just Thief with... well, it's had a lot of influence, anyway.
The third iteration, and the first on any console, has been a long time coming and has a lot to prove to a world which is very blase when it comes to sneaking around in the dark. Luckily, having sat down and played early code, this old master has plenty to teach the young kids.
FREE FOR ALL
Newcomers and veterans will be equally at home, and soon understand why Thief is different to any other sneaky game. That's partly to do with the setting - playing in a steampunk fantasy world - but what really impresses is the more free-form nature of the game. Instead of a linear route through the level, it's more a self-contained place which you have to infiltrate by many means.
While keeping true to the core of the game, it's not afraid to expand and tweak. For example, there's a third-person option for those more familiar with that sort of play.
More impressively, the actual levels are linked by a hub-City full of distractions for the Thief about town.
Thief: Deadly Shadows is released for Xbox and PC on 11 June