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Thread: My review of Thief (2014)

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: May 2008

    My review of Thief (2014)

    Hi guys, I recently purchased Thief (2014) and I started by making some notes for my own reference, but ended up fleshing it out a little more to read more like an actual review. So, I thought I'd share it with you in case someone can find any value in it.

    After being in lockdown (ironically the name of the prologue of the game) for weeks again and having watched multiple gameplay and review videos of Thief (2014) out of a blend of boredom and curiosity, I found it on Steam in the winter sale for just £2.39. I told myself that I wouldn't buy it, but curiosity got the better of me as I wanted to see how it played firsthand, as well as how it compared performance-wise to Unreal Tournament 3 (as they use the same engine yet the required hardware specs stated are vastly different).

    Thief 4, essentially, requires a massive 23.44 Gb of storage space. This game feels more like a sequel specifically to Thief: Deadly Shadows than either of the first two games, with a similar game structure (a city hub that acts as a central point to find equipment shops, missions, and side quests) and visual style (both games use a version of the Unreal Engine which explains the latter). Gameplay-wise, it feels more like the Far Cry series after, and including, Far Cry 3. Modern UI elements, full mini map, objective markers, dramatic mission notification sounds, incidental music, scripted level events and interactions, mashable button scripted events, takedowns, collecting journals and letters, picking flowers for power-ups, dream sequences, etc, etc. Luckily the HUD elements are all split-up individually so you can turn any and all of them off, allowing you to find the right balance for you. This game is clearly one which was made with consoles in mind, due to over-simplified gameplay and janky controls intended to be mapped to a game controller. The game strangely requires multiple times the system requirements of the flagship Unreal Engine 3 game, Unreal Tournament 3, even though they both use the same engine and the Thief levels aren't a whole lot bigger than those found in UT3. I guess they are more detailed, but not THAT much more detailed. When playing UT3, the fans on my laptop barely kick in, if at all. When playing Thief, the fans ramp up to about 50% just while sitting at the main menu screen, and are loud enough to require me to have to turn the volume up or wear headphones. I played the game at both 1280x720 and 1600x900 resolutions, with little impact on performance using the higher one. I used the High graphical quality settings in most cases, but turned everything such as FXAA and SSAA off.

    The game is set in a Victorian-like era, rather than a Medieval one. Due to the use of a city hub type of structure again, there's a lot of tedious navigating around, backtracking, and loading screens. And again, like T-DS, you have to walk around and find specific people or areas around the city in order to do even the simplest of tasks such as sell loot and buy items, get your next mission, or find side quests. There's an emphasis on travelling above ground level, and the verticality is quite neat, but requires a lot of monotonous jumping, climbing, mantling ledges and grabbing pre-placed ropes. You've got no sword, so if you find yourself cornered in melee combat... you're pretty much screwed. The blackjack is 'always armed', even though you can't see it, as if you press the 'fire' button, Garrett will swing it in front of him. The bow is a strange futuristic-looking compound-type, and is bizarrely treated as its own item where there's a separate key to use it. The lighting and shadows are generally good-looking, but in reality to the game are quite bright and irrelevant, respectively... which in a Thief game is a crime. You'll often find yourself in bright light, but the light gem says you're in the dark. Shadows are much less pronounced, instead being represented by just slightly darker areas normally found around the edges of an area or room. I feel the use of the lockers that you can hide in are too over-used in some missions, which is a side-effect of the poor lighting and shadows. There's literally 'nowhere to hide' in the natural environment so if you're seen and pursued, getting inside a locker is your only hope of survival. The A.I. is questionable, as remarked on by other players, and guards return to their normal routines shortly after being on red alert... even ignoring dead bodies once they return to the scene of a crime that's in full view. Another point of controversy is the loot. I'm not too bothered by the animation that occurs when the player picks up every single piece of loot, as it is quite immersive. However, one thing that immediately strikes you is how the loot is worth bugger all... with even lavish items only being worth a few gold.

    So far I'm only just up to the brothel mission, but don't care much for the story thus far. After playing the original two Thief games on the Dark Engine for the best part of 20 years, and only dabbling with the third in the series, this one is too difficult for me to get acquainted with. It feels more like an action game with stealth elements, rather than a stealth game with action elements. There's some fun to be had, but a lot of frustration too. It has a few neat ideas and features, but these are overshadowed, pardon the pun, by the things it gets horribly wrong such as bizarre controls and unwelcome modern gameplay trends and mechanics.
    Last edited by Garras; 2nd Jan 2021 at 08:37.

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2015
    Location: Shawano County, Wisconsin
    It feels more like an action game with stealth elements, rather than a stealth game with action elements. There's some fun to be had, but a lot of frustration too. It has a few neat ideas and features, but these are overshadowed, pardon the pun, by the things it gets horribly wrong such as bizarre controls and unwelcome modern gameplay trends and mechanics.
    I agree wholeheartedly with this. Every now and then, Thief 2014 offers a glimpse of what could've been a great game, but then squanders its potential with boring characters, cliché writing, frustrating level design, and pointless action sequences. Heck, the only reason it's still on my hard drive is that the completionist in me still wants to nab the last few achievements I'm missing.

    When I want to play a modern Thief, I do a pacifist run of the Dishonored games.

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2001
    Location: the Sheeple Pen
    Good review Garras! I somewhat disagree about "action game with stealth elements, rather than a stealth game with action elements" though. Stealth is one of the few things that keeps Thief afloat, but I think it does it fairly well. The first two Thief games are pure stealth, but Thi4f adds a bit of action to the mix... which, I must say, is not at all a bad thing. The older games offer an option for more action-orientated gameplay with the fire arrows and mines (does anyone ever really use those?) and stuff, but that part of the game is just awfully broken in my opinion. So yeah, I don't think that stealth is what lets the "new" Thief down - it's most of the other things in the game that are either mediocre or just bad! As for Dishonored, I think there's a good example of an action game with stealth elements - what fun are all those cool super powers if you never get to use them?

    Quote Originally Posted by Garras View Post
    Thief 4, essentially, requires a massive 23.44 Gb of storage space.
    I think 23.44 Gb is remarkably little for an AAA game these days!

  4. #4
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    Yeah even by 2014 standards 23GB is on the slimmer side. To compare it to some other 2014 AAA titles: Alien Isolation: 35GB, Far Cry 4: 30GB, Wolfenstein - The New Order: 47GB.

    And UT3 and Thief might both use Unreal Engine 3 but they came out 7 YEARS APART! The engine didn't stay stagnant during that time, so no, you can't expect the same features/performance from those 2 games.

    And I really don't know how anyone who's actually played the game can think it's an action game first and foremost? If you'd just seen the trailers, which focused on the action setpieces, sure, I can see how you'd get that impression. But actually playing it? Wasn't at least 95% of what you did in the game stealth? I mean I guess you could just run around and get into fights all the time, by why would you?

  5. #5
    OP pretty much mirrors 2014 sentiment. Too bad it couldn't have been more faithful to the Thief foundational gameplay roots. Now we've gone 6 more years without another Thief game with no hopes on the horizon for a new one; let alone one remotely close to its gameplay roots or one with the Stephen Russell voicing Garrett
    Last edited by Darkness_Falls; 24th Jan 2021 at 15:17.

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2005
    Location: Bulgaria
    Quote Originally Posted by Darkness_Falls View Post
    OP pretty much mirrors 2014 sentiment. Too bad it couldn't have been more faithful to the Thief foundational gameplay roots. Now we've gone 6 more years without another Thief game with no hopes on the horizon for a new one; let alone one remotely close to its gameplay roots or one with the Stephen Russell voicing Garrett
    Quite sad, indeed. Although I'd be happy with ANY Thief game - whether it's good or bad. Better have something rather than nothing.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Bulgarian_Taffer View Post
    Quite sad, indeed. Although I'd be happy with ANY Thief game - whether it's good or bad. Better have something rather than nothing.
    Yes, indeed, very sad to hear about it!

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2008
    Location: Slovakia - Zemplín region
    Quote Originally Posted by Bulgarian_Taffer View Post
    Quite sad, indeed. Although I'd be happy with ANY Thief game - whether it's good or bad. Better have something rather than nothing.
    BT, with all due respect, The Dark Mod is nothing ? At this point, it's as good as any more technologically contemporary Thief game could be. You don't have the setting copyright, but everything else is pure Thief, through and through. After the 2014 reboot missed the point on most things - its abysmally bad story and zero movement freedom in particular - hoping against all hope that some big developer and publisher will do it justice is unhelpful.

    Let the series rest, it ended on a high note as a trilogy, and it should stay that way. The fan missions and TDM can carry its legacy for many years to come. And I'd greatly welcome if you tried to make FMs for TDM, as much as you have for TMA. I myself am working on some new missions for TDM.

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2003
    Location: Singapore
    I felt it was OK at best especially when you tweak the custom difficulty settings. Had a pretty fun time doing a complete ghost run. Wish the story was a little more engaging though.

  10. #10
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2005
    Location: Bulgaria
    Quote Originally Posted by Petike the Taffer View Post
    BT, with all due respect, The Dark Mod is nothing ? At this point, it's as good as any more technologically contemporary Thief game could be. You don't have the setting copyright, but everything else is pure Thief, through and through. After the 2014 reboot missed the point on most things - its abysmally bad story and zero movement freedom in particular - hoping against all hope that some big developer and publisher will do it justice is unhelpful.

    Let the series rest, it ended on a high note as a trilogy, and it should stay that way. The fan missions and TDM can carry its legacy for many years to come. And I'd greatly welcome if you tried to make FMs for TDM, as much as you have for TMA. I myself am working on some new missions for TDM.
    I've thought about making TDM missions, but my history with the founders of the project hasn't been great. It's been pretty awful, and I was on the wrong part of the history. I was against TDM because I thought it's a threat to the true lore of the Thief game, in fact I was the leading voice of the opposition. Little did I know that the EM team would send the whole lore to the thrash bin and TDM would turn out to be the most successful spiritual successor.

    I may try some day to make something, but I don't think I'll be particularly welcome. I'm a hothead and occasionally mess things quite bad. Unfortunately, the so called cancel culture has spread to this forum as well. I've seen it, I hate it, it's what is ruining the Western society, and I understand why. They say consequences, but what we have here isn't consequences. We have punishment without redemption.

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Sounds to me like, if anything, you're cancelling yourself.

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2005
    Location: Bulgaria
    Quote Originally Posted by Thirith View Post
    Sounds to me like, if anything, you're cancelling yourself.
    Nah, just taking a break from DromEd. I always promise to retire, but years later I always release another small mission. Okay, there's another problem with TDM. I have to learn another editor. It's hard to switch from one to another.

  13. #13
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2004
    Location: Prince Edward Island, Canada
    Quote Originally Posted by Bulgarian_Taffer View Post
    I've thought about making TDM missions, but my history with the founders of the project hasn't been great. It's been pretty awful, and I was on the wrong part of the history. I was against TDM because I thought it's a threat to the true lore of the Thief game, in fact I was the leading voice of the opposition. Little did I know that the EM team would send the whole lore to the thrash bin and TDM would turn out to be the most successful spiritual successor.

    I may try some day to make something, but I don't think I'll be particularly welcome. I'm a hothead and occasionally mess things quite bad. Unfortunately, the so called cancel culture has spread to this forum as well. I've seen it, I hate it, it's what is ruining the Western society, and I understand why. They say consequences, but what we have here isn't consequences. We have punishment without redemption.
    I don't think any of us at the TDM forums would shut you out.. You are always welcome to come hang out on the forums and if you felt like dabbling in Dark Radiant a bit, there are experienced mappers around who would gladly show you the ropes. It's a pretty easy level editor and constantly being improved all the time.

  14. #14
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2008
    Location: Slovakia - Zemplín region
    Quote Originally Posted by Bulgarian_Taffer View Post
    Nah, just taking a break from DromEd. I always promise to retire, but years later I always release another small mission. Okay, there's another problem with TDM. I have to learn another editor. It's hard to switch from one to another.
    I played about four of your FMs for TMA and really liked them. So certainly don't quit FM-making. At least as far as your heart is still in it, at least a bit. Maybe after a hiatus, you can rediscover your interest in the hobby.

    I also believe you when you say it takes time and patience to learn another editor.

    We do have some good tutorials on the Dark Radiant editor for TDM, including plenty of video tutorials. I can send you some links and articles, if you like. The documentation is detailed and the building methods themselves are highly modular in TDM (either manually, or with pre-made module sets and prefabs).

    Quote Originally Posted by Bulgarian_Taffer View Post
    I've thought about making TDM missions, but my history with the founders of the project hasn't been great. It's been pretty awful, and I was on the wrong part of the history.
    I have never read any negative opinions about you specifically over at the TDM forums. No one's spoken negativelly of you, and even if there might have been disagreement in the past, I doubt anyone holds it against you over there. From all my years of involvement with the TDM community, they're not a grudge-holding bunch at all. Especially not the veterans who have stuck with the project for all these years and continue to work on improving the game and make it a pleasant experience.

    I doubt you were "on the wrong side of history", whatever that means in this context.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bulgarian_Taffer View Post
    I was against TDM because I thought it's a threat to the true lore of the Thief game, in fact I was the leading voice of the opposition. Little did I know that the EM team would send the whole lore to the thrash bin and TDM would turn out to be the most successful spiritual successor.
    Well, history sometimes has a sense of humour...

    The Dark Mod isn't trying to be Thief, because it can't be due to obvious copyright issues, but also because of general creative concerns. The Dark Mod was never even trying to be some sort of replacement for Thief, and the fact it has its own setting and plenty of clear distinctions from Thief is fully intentional. TDM wasn't made to poach on LGS' and ISA's achievements, but to do its own thing and expand upon the legacy of those games.

    The Dark Mod is set in a continuity entirely separate from Thief. It's another universe with a mostly similar tone and feel.

    You need to take into account that the first seed of the idea that grew into TDM came at a time when it wasn't even clear whether TDS would be getting a level editor. Whatever your thoughts on TDS, it's a bit of a miracle an editor eventually arrived and we have about 50 FMs for the third game. But TDM evolved naturally, from a more technically accessible alternative to TDS mission-making, to a standalone project that's an open-source homage to Thief.

    Personally, I'm glad The Dark Mod exists. If nothing else, it shows that a dedicated hobbyist team of developers can achieve a near-AAA level of quality and focus on old-school immersive sim design and inspired and fun writing, rather than sacrificing that design ethos for shiny graphics and subpar writing and miserable design (see Thief 2014).
    The Dark Mod was also voted the second best freeware game in a TOP 50 article already a few years ago. Now it's even more improved. TDM shows that freeware games don't need to be simplistic affairs at all, and the fact that the extended Thief fan community has achieved this and given the world an excellent freeware stealth game speaks to the strength of Thief's continued fandom and appreciation, even twenty years on.

    When I was listening to the Thief podcast recently, when they did a big interview with Dan Thron, he was really impressed by the FM community being so strong even today, and TDM being such a successful project and offshoot of that FM-making part of the fan community. Twenty years ago, he would never have hoped of this community chugging along for so long and creating such high-quality content and even their own related projects.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bulgarian_Taffer View Post
    I may try some day to make something, but I don't think I'll be particularly welcome. I'm a hothead and occasionally mess things quite bad. Unfortunately, the so called cancel culture has spread to this forum as well. I've seen it, I hate it, it's what is ruining the Western society, and I understand why. They say consequences, but what we have here isn't consequences. We have punishment without redemption.
    I can't speak for the TTLG forums (partly because I frequent them less and only focus on the Thief forums), but on the TDM forums, the atmosphere is really accepting. It's a relatively smaller community than TTLG's, so the more relaxed atmosphere as a result isn't that surprising.

    There's a fair few people who've contributed not only to TDM's growing roster of released missions, but also contributed fan missions for the three original games.

    Melan and Silencium18 have made several missions for both TMA and TDM.

    Joebarnin has made missions for TDS and TDM.

    Komag has made some missions for TMA, TDS and TDM, three different engines and games.

    Quote Originally Posted by New Horizon View Post
    I don't think any of us at the TDM forums would shut you out.. You are always welcome to come hang out on the forums and if you felt like dabbling in Dark Radiant a bit, there are experienced mappers around who would gladly show you the ropes. It's a pretty easy level editor and constantly being improved all the time.
    I concur wholeheartedly. I think Bulgarian Taffer would be welcomed with open arms, and supported as much as he'd like to be. Though it's a different editor (and somewhat different level building style), TDM has been highly improved in the last ten years alone and is the exact opposite of clunky. I've found mission building in it pretty easy, even though I'm nowhere near releasing a mission yet (but that's more down to lack of time and some of my planning, not the editor).
    Last edited by Petike the Taffer; 6th Apr 2021 at 06:58.

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