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Thief review

Solid
AT A GLANCE
  • The traditional shadow-skulking stealth gameplay
  • Playing through the various side missions
  • Stealing everything in sight
  • Uninspired story
  • Sound issues
  • A reboot that does nothing new

I activate my focus ability to scout out the area and find an opening to sneak by the enemy patrols. A single guard stands nearby. Slowly, I inch my way behind the target and shift into the light for a moment to make my move. As quickly as I appeared, I vanish back into the shadows--25 gold pieces richer from the coins lifted from the guard's purse. That's Thief, a game that differentiates itself from other "stealth" titles in that sneaking around unseen isn't just an option--it's practically mandatory. You're a thief who's out to make a quick buck, not to murder everyone in sight. But while the sneaky elements of the game are well implemented and enjoyable enough to warrant a playthrough, Garrett's long-awaited return doesn't hold many surprises when it comes to Thief's gameplay or plot.

The reboot kicks off in the middle of a heist, reintroducing you to the master thief Garrett and his rookie partner, Erin. Long story short, Erin is overconfident about the job, interrupts a secret cult ritual, and falls into a mystical light, resulting in an explosion that leaves Garrett unconscious. You awaken a year later with no memory of the time between the heist and the present. It's up to you to figure out what has transpired within that lost time, what happened to Erin, and why The City is in the middle of a destructive revolution during the 15-hour campaign. The intro starts the game off strong, but as you progress the story's poorly told and isn't terribly exciting.

Throughout the main missions, it's difficult to follow exactly what is going on. The major events and characters never feel important enough to pay attention to, and all of the story elements haphazardly come together in a disjointed way. The City is in peril, but Garrett doesn't really care. A revolution against the corrupt Baron has begun, but Garrett only wants to find Erin. The motivations of the characters are all over the place, and the story poorly explains the situation from one chapter to the next. Even the reason why Garrett has super thief powers and a glowing blue eye is only sort of explained in the last half of the game. If you're looking for an enticing story to keep you hooked, the predictable betrayals and confusing plot points aren't enough to carry you through to the unsatisfying ending.

However, even though the story's a wash, the stealth gameplay and thievery will keep you playing for the long run. Thief abandons action-heavy gameplay for slow, sneaky stealth. The majority of the game has you doing what thieves do best: lifting valuables, breaking into safes, and disappearing into the shadows. You also have access to Garrett's arsenal of gadgets that allow access to new areas, and water, fire, and gas arrows are invaluable tools for distracting enemies. Using your gadgets effectively is rewarding in a way that makes you feel like a real thief as you disable traps with your wire-cutters, access secret vents with your wrench tool, and dowse torches with a shot of a water arrow.

Then there's the thieving, which is exceptionally addictive. I was eager to explore every drawer and china cabinet when I knew they might contain loot, or at least a clue describing the location of valuable treasure. Plus, skulking around while stealing the silverware and golden rings laying around the environments becomes an alluring but entertaining distraction.

The same goes for the side jobs, which give much more life to The City's otherwise forgettable residents. You'll meet with citizens offering high-risk jobs that net you handsome rewards and oftentimes interesting side stories. But if you just want to test your sneaking skills, there are also challenge modes that offer well-designed, timed scenarios. With all of the collectibles, extra quests, and treasures to uncover, there is definitely plenty to explore in Thief's dark, samey environments.

More Info

Release date: Feb 25 2014 - PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC
Feb 25 2014 - PS3 (US)
Available Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, PS3
Genre: Action
Published by: Eidos
Developed by: Eidos Montreal
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs, Violence

Speaking of, while it makes sense that a Thief would only work at night, the darkness that permeates the entire game doesn't help to create a noticeable mix of settings. You'll move from the dark streets of the City to the dark halls of a mental institution to the dark caves of an ancient underground library. These locales sound interesting on paper, but in the game you always feel like you are in the same place, in the dark, stealing stuff.

Outside of the stealth elements, Thief feels limited. The combat, for instance, is severely lacking. Yes, Garrett is a master thief, not a warrior, but every once in awhile you might find yourself going toe-to-toe with a guard. When this happens, all you have is a sword-dodging side-step move and a weak-feeling blackjack attack at your disposal, making for some incredibly dull encounters. Plus, because the combat is so lackluster, several of the armor and weapon upgrades become irrelevant simply because you'll want to avoid the boring head-on conflicts at all costs.

Thief also has some issues with sound glitches. On more than one occasion, I experienced looping guard dialogue that continued even when I was nowhere near the source, and there was also some inaudible speech during in-game cutscenes. Only by enabling subtitles was I able to discern what was being said. None of these sound bugs were enough to completely ruin the experience, but the fact that sound issues came up fairly regularly was annoying to say the least.

Still, despite its uninspired storytelling and occasional bugs, Thief is a worthwhile adventure that anyone looking for a stealth-based experience will enjoy. The reboot doesn't introduce any new concepts; it instead sticks to the simple, traditional shadow-skulking of the previous titles. But as any thief knows, the best payoff doesn't come without a few risks, and the rebooted Thief prefers playing it safe over raking in the big haul.

Thief maintains the strengths of its stealth-centric predecessors and offers plenty in the way of actual thievery, but don't expect any fun, new gameplay mechanics or an enchanting story in this reboot.

Thief was reviewed on Xbox One.

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68 comments

  • paulgo - March 19, 2014 9:24 p.m.

    Well, having played the first 2 installments of this game I have to say I bought the latest and I'm very disappointed. It's banal, linear and predictable with little to offer in the form of excitement or suspense.In fact,it's quite a boring game. That's my 2 c worth anyway.
  • Onechelon - February 26, 2014 5:12 a.m.

    Although I agree with what was said in the review above I'm not even a little dissapointed from the game.In fact this is exactly what I was looking for in the game.Yes there are some glitches with the sound and the story but the was never really that much about the story,but I have never played the first or the second Thief game.Thief 3 was the one that got me so addicted in stealth games and to me its the only one that really connects to the feeling of being a real thief.Hiding in the shadows , undetected and stealing all kind of stuff in very interesting and brilliant ways.Like that side mission where you had to steal a mirror from a safe and to find the combination you had to read a journal which belongs to the daughter(I think) of the person who owns it where she says she wrote it within the a drawer or something.For me that was pretty surprsing and it was only a side mission.Thief gave me exactly what I was looking for which was many ways of stealing and remaining undetected in trickiest ways.
  • yonderTheGreat - February 27, 2014 10:53 a.m.

    I apologize for the fact that this will most likely sound condescending but... sadly... you're exactly the customer they were thinking of when they made this game. PLEASE... go play Thief 1 and 2, assuming that you're not a graphics freak. Tho, to be honest, if you can appreciate style and art over technical muscle when it comes to graphics then you'll still be able to love the first two Thief games. For the love of Gaming... they're 10 bucks at GOG. Give me your info and I'll buy them for you if 10 bucks is somehow too much for you to swing at the moment.
  • MrShoubic - March 25, 2014 3:22 p.m.

    I'll give you my info if you buy it for me, please.
  • Shigeruken - February 25, 2014 11:44 p.m.

    I've been playing on X1, and honestly this game isn't graphically impressive enough to warrant the 30fps cap. On top of that, it rarely stays above 25 for more than a few seconds. I should have bought it for my PC. I feel like a right moron.
  • Enaid - February 25, 2014 10:49 p.m.

    I have been playing this since this morning, on my PS3 and I can say that I am not impressed. Upon starting the game, I had instant sound issues (there was none). After restarting, the sound came back, but not even 5 minutes into the game, the sound became glitchy. Throughout what I have played so far, the voices cut out. Everything else can be heard, but the voice. I had a whole conversation with moving lips, but no voice. Garrett is so boring in this game and what's up with the Assassin's Creed like climbing? If I wanted Assassin's Creed, I will go back to playing Black Flag. The story is rather dull as well as the other characters. And what's up with all the sex? Is that really necessary? Or are you guys just obsessed with it or do you think that it makes up for the lack of storytelling? I have waited for so long, in anticipation, only to be disappointed. There are way to many thing wrong with this game and a complete rip off of my $59. I believe it is only worth half the price, but I'm sure you guys don't care. You got your money, right?
  • Redeater - February 25, 2014 11:10 a.m.

    I've played this game for a couple hours and have experienced all types of glitches. -choppy fraterate -incredibly choppy cut scenes -lip syncing isuses that are up to 3 seconds off -the inability to select a throwable item because the cursor is stuck on my water arrows. Fucking way to go Square. This game should have been under Bethesda.... Oh, did I mention the damn Goth girl and unnecessary swearing? Instead of taffer and taff we get fucker and fuck. Ah, progress.
  • Shigeruken - February 25, 2014 11:46 p.m.

    Good to know I'm not the only one having these issues. I was concerned that console was malfunctioning.
  • mothbanquet - February 25, 2014 6:21 a.m.

    Oh, this is a shock. I've been a Thief fan since the first game and for all the hand-holdy new features this still looked more or less true to the franchise. Well, fingers crossed for Stick of Truth...
  • Redeater - February 24, 2014 1:52 p.m.

    Well this is heartbreaking. Then again, I should have expected as much. This game had red flags the minute they had a press release for that "kill score" game mechanic. They may have taken it out due to backlash but I can only imagine the ocean of misunderstand of what Thief was if they thought it was good enough to tout as a feature. I'm still going to buy it but I'm really disappointed that almost every review seems to indicate that this is just an average stealth game. Well, at least we have Dishonored 2 to look forward to.
  • Remwr11 - February 24, 2014 8:18 p.m.

    That unfortunately has yet to be announced or even hinted at
  • jessica-whatley - February 24, 2014 12:52 p.m.

    Well, I pre-ordered it so, if the game isn't that exciting or good enough for me then I can always return it or trade it in when I get it tomorrow night.
  • fullmetallegend - February 24, 2014 12:42 p.m.

    I still get sad every time I see a game get downgraded for not having a great story.
  • yonderTheGreat - February 27, 2014 10:55 a.m.

    Are you sad because you wish that game devs valued games or are you sad because you think it's stupid to punish games for having sh*t stories?
  • R_U_Guys_From_British - February 24, 2014 9:30 a.m.

    The dark mod is a great replacement for this game :-)
  • homestar99 - February 24, 2014 8:36 a.m.

    Well, at least no one is being a biased prick about what console it was reviewed on and then stating why their's is 'better'.
  • db1331 - February 24, 2014 10:04 a.m.

    Oh shit, I'm slipping. Reviewed on Xbone? PC is better because graphix.
  • BladedFalcon - February 24, 2014 10:46 a.m.

    ...You can't slip if you're never climbed up the pit to begin with :P
  • homestar99 - February 24, 2014 4:42 p.m.

    I'll give you that PC comment just 'cos the developers weren't that great at making console resolution so the PC version is the only one running at 60 fps. The Xbox part makes sense because it only runs at 900p. The problem I have with those comments is that no one notices the difference unless purposely looking for them. It makes them come off as whiny. I'm not saying that db1331 is whiny 'cos in all fairness I provoked him to do it. Why do all the comments I have on this page have three way conversations with db1331 and BladedFalcon on them? 'Cos consistency, bitch.
  • winner2 - February 24, 2014 8:10 a.m.

    Definitely not what I was expecting but the stealth is what sold me. Already pre ordered, anticipating it to be a lot of fun.

Showing 1-20 of 68 comments

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