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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 09:37.

  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 16:17.

  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.

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