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Thread: Thief Gold vs. Thief 2

  1. #26
    Desperately Dodgy Moderator
    Registered: Nov 2001
    Location: Dragonsreach
    I'm not going to get involved in the discussion, but I love reading everyone's views and comments. I do just want to clarify, however, that Lytha is female.
    Last edited by Yandros; 13th Feb 2020 at 20:18.

  2. #27
    New Member
    Registered: Mar 2012
    Wow I didn't know that Yandros! Has she posted after 2001-02 ish? Any reasons why she quit the community?

    Most of the points I wanted to explain/discuss were already covered by Garndmauden and Meowdori, so it's not going to be a long post. Just one thing I'd like to mention: the supposedly weak story in TDP/TG first "act".

    I don't think you can call missions 1 to 5 (Bafford to Guild) a weak storyline since they all logically follow one another! In my headcanon, Garrett had already done a bunch of impressive heists off-screen, but Lord Bafford's sceptre had the street cred (Bafford-Ramirez connection). Then he needs Cutty to sell it, but the fence is jailed - we go to Cragscleft, only to learn Cutty is standing on his last legs so all we get is information. Enter the Bonehoard... you get the drift. Only "Thieves' Guild" might be a little off, many argued that the mission is kind of unnecessary since we dealt with crime boss(es) in "Asssassins", but I'm glad the Guild is included.

    So that story arc is much varied, interesting, one could say it would've been a great foundation for another game, perhaps a prequel - "Thief 0" stuff. I love how Garrett keeps raising the bar! It's also understandable that in a City full of thieves Constantine and Viktoria call Garrett's number after all these feats.

    And one more thing: this is how stories should develop - with Action instead of Exposition. Talking to Cutty in-game, following Felix notes, sneaking up Ramirez butt. This is organic, pure storytelling; that's how Half-Life succeeded!

  3. #28
    New Member
    Registered: Feb 2020
    Hey there, new to the forum but not LGS et al games (big fan of System Shock, Deus Ex, and some of Arkane's games). I finally got around to Thief Gold last September, and just finished Thief 2 this week (with TFix Lite and T2Fix Lite, respectively). I'm solidly of the opinion that TG is the better game, owing to the consistent quality and variety of its missions, superior difficulty design, greater flexibility of movement, and my own personal preference for its atmosphere and horror elements. Despite some of the subtle mechanical improvements and standout missions of the sequel, I found myself fatigued by the glut of break-ins and burglaries, with the final stretch embittering my opinion of the game to the point that I'm not sure I'll ever replay the final three missions.

    First, I want to discuss the difficulty design. Both games feature Normal/Hard/Expert modes which alter Garrett's health, the placement of guards, loot, and level features, and scaling mission objectives. This will probably ruffle some feathers here, but after experimenting with different modes of play I'm convinced that Thief Gold is best played blind on Normal difficulty with extremely limited saving. Half of the gameplay in Thief revolves around getting caught. Especially as a new player, you're supposed to make a bit too much noise or find yourself exposed in a brightly lit hallway from time to time, prompting nearby guards to investigate and attempt to subdue you. You're given a lot of tools to recover from these situations -- you have broadhead arrows, fire arrows, gas arrows, flash bombs, speed potions, mines, and gas mines to name a few, in addition to your sword or even blackjack if things get dire. Sometimes it pays to run and hide and let guards reset, while other times it's best to stand and fight. A lot of the tension and nuance of the game comes from the split second decisions you have to make about what to do when a guard signals he's heard something. If you always have a fallback save and can rewind time to 10 seconds ago before you were spotted, all of this is gone and stealth gameplay devolves into a series of timing puzzles and most of your resources (healing potions and the aforementioned recovery tools) become superfluous. Instead, I opted to place one save at the beginning of mission (or sometimes after an early segment that required little to no skill), and another save partway through if there was a suitable breakpoint in a particularly long mission, as this forced me to engage with the different awareness states and recover from my mistakes in real time. The main difference between the difficulties in this context is the margin for error. On TG Normal, the focus of each mission is just the main story objective, allowing the player to learn the layout and come to grips with the rules and mechanics before introducing extraneous loot objectives. It seems clear to me that the intention was for the higher difficulties to add replayability to the missions via new objectives, less player health to make mistakes more punishing, and new stipulations on gameplay such as no kill restrictions which invalidate some of the player's recovery options. Now I can finally bring in the comparison between TG and T2. I think Normal difficulty in Thief has a bad reputation almost entirely because of the second game. In TG, Garrett has 16/13/10 health on Normal/Hard/Expert. In T2, it's been changed to 22/16/10 health, and health potions now recover double on Normal difficulty. So, T2 Hard is really TG Normal, and T2 Normal is really easy mode. You can also see this in the objectives: in TG, there are 8 missions where you must steal another item on Hard and 3 (early) missions where you have to escape on Hard but not Normal; in T2, there are only 4 missions with any unique objectives on Hard, with the only difference coming from the scaling of loot requirements and various kill restrictions (and I would argue that restraining from killing unarmed bystanders on Hard amounts to little as they can be blackjacked from the front). Hard in TG added new challenges to enhance repeat playthroughs, while T2 adds little between Normal and Hard, justifying the latter as the default difficulty. I can't speak to the extensive differences between enemy and loot placement on each difficulty, but I can state that overall I found TG Normal without saves to be just as difficult as T2 Hard without saves, if not moreso since I was still learning how to sneak effectively. T2 gained an easy mode, but lost a real Hard mode between the default and Expert.

    Thief 2 makes some improvements to the mechanics, but also stumbles backwards in one area. I like the new items -- while I never used the flares, the scouting orb helped with patrol timing on blind corners and the slow-fall and invisibility potions were a godsend on a few occasions. I have a fondness for the more grounded hand-drawn maps of TG, but the map is definitely a lot more useful in T2 as it is usually more spatially accurate and highlights where you've already been in the level. The new robotic enemies and security elements add a new layer of depth to the level design, and I particularly like how the robots give water arrows another important use case. While water arrows were also used very cleverly in conjunction with holy water in TG, killing undead and dousing torches were rarely a simultaneous concern within a single mission so the choice of when to use them couldn't be quite as interesting as in T2. My one gripe with T2's mechanics is with the gimped movement. TG made the wonderful choice to have Garrett jump with a greater velocity than he could achieve on the ground, which made for enjoyable platforming between carpeted surfaces and gave him a nice degree of agility at the cost of making more noise. T2 removed the speed boost and jumping around is just nowhere near as fun as a result. It was too easy to abuse the mechanic to gain speed by bunnyhopping in TG, but I would much rather have seen that exploit patched out than Garrett's leap gutted overall. The added control options for hold run/creep are welcome, but don't make up for the loss.

    With all that out of the way, I should discuss the primary reason I prefer TG over T2 -- the mission design and atmosphere. This is a matter of pure preference, but I absolutely loved the horror-themed missions in TG, which are split about 50/50 with the more standard sneaking missions. Down in the Bonehoard might be my favorite Thief mission period, as I thoroughly enjoy dungeon crawling and exploring 3D mazes filled with traps and enemy ambushes. I think the zombies are a great enemy design, posing a threat in groups but offering multiple approaches to deal with them (KO them with a sword, blow them up with holy water or fire arrows, or simply slip past their clutches). Burricks, Craymen, Spiders, Ape Men, Bugbeasts, and Haunts all pose a unique threat in gameplay which is enhanced by their bone-chilling audio design. While their fear factor later decreased as I realized they behave much like human guards, the Craymen warded me off of an entire route in the Haunted Cathedral with their terrifying clicking. I also had a spine-shivering moment in the same level when I found myself in locked in a cloister with two spiders who were capable of chasing me up a near-vertical column. The Return to the Cathedral was made that much more nerve-wracking by the the Haunts since I never realized you could backstab them with the sword (as the blackjack had failed), so I had to rely on my dwindling supply of fire arrows when ghosting failed. The atmosphere generated by the sound design of TG is simply marvelous, and hooked me into the game world immensely. As entertaining as the Builder's Children's soliloquoys can be, they have nothing on the wheezing moan of the Undead, the chirping hiss of Spiders, or the chain mail clanging and layered whispering of the Haunts. The environmental audio in TG also has a lot more going on, and ambient music tracks add a lot to the mood and tone of the setting. Much of T2 felt lifeless and barren by comparison especially when factoring in the more mundane settings of the missions. TG has great locational variety, sending you from aristocratic mansions and slummy streets to haunted crypts and sunken ruins and everywhere in between. Traditional thieving missions are broken up with exploratory spelunking missions, while sometimes they're even mixed together in the same mission. TG impresses with missions that shift their focus midway through or combine gameplay syles in unexpected ways. In Assassins!, a standard Hammer Temple break-in is diverted into a short tailing sequence where you follow your attackers to Ramirez's mansion which you subsequently burglar instead. Thieves' Guild (which I think is underrated) has you descending through multiple front establishments into a sprawling sewer system that connects the mansions of two rival thieving lords. Undercover mixes unprecedented social stealth with exploratory puzzle elements. The Sword famously subverts the player's expectations by turning a standard mansion heist into a mindbending traipse through increasingly reality-defying environments. Every mission has something innovative and surprising, and different styles of gameplay are frequently intermixed to keep the player from settling into a comfortable monotony.

    T2 also has some stellar mission design too, but it's held back by its more rigid focus on sneaking in human environments. It arguably has some of the absolute best levels among the two games -- Shipping and Receiving, Framed, and The Bank offer up excellent interconnected stealth layouts with tons of nonlinearity and strategic depth, and Ambush! and Life of the Party make for superb city exploration sequences. If these are the missions people remember T2 for, I can understand why they would prefer it. But T2 also features the worst missions from the two games as well. Trace the Courier drew out the fresh and brisk tailing section from Assassins! into a tedious and frustrating mission with asinine failure states for deviating from the tight leash of the designer. There's a script you're supposed to follow to avoid getting spotted by your target or the city watch guards passing by, and it's pure trial and error to figure it out. It's doubly lame for reusing the same environment from Ambush!, which is a common theme in T2's lesser missions. While TG reused areas of the Haunted Cathedral, The Sword, and Undercover in its later missions, they were a small part of an entirely new level area and were heavily altered for their new context. T2's copypasting comes off less as creative repurposing and more as a content rush to meet a deadline, as Trace the Courier is the same level with all exploratory fun sapped out of it, and Casing the Joint kills the otherwise interesting layout of Masks by forcing you to do it back to back after ghosting it the first time. Kidnap is actually a pretty nice rework of The Lost City, but it can't make up for the slump in quality that occurs directly after. Enter Sabotage at Soulforge. I appreciated the first part of the mission where you have to figure out how to reverse the signal and build a new beacon yourself, but the signal tower objective is simply miserable. You don't have enough arrows to reliably deal with all of the robots, and there are several areas where there's nowhere to run if you're spotted, so savescumming became almost mandatory. The turret room was the peak of my frustration, involving repeated rewinding until I discovered a particular motion through the firing lines that would allow me to narrowly escape with a sliver of health if I was lucky. Where TG's Into the Maw of Chaos provided a satisfying dash to the finish line focusing on movement and tool use, T2's Soulforge devolves into trial and error stealth in a mission that's far too long and punishing to be a pleasant sendoff. TG had a couple of lackluster missions (I think Mage Towers is pretty tedious, even if I appreciate that each Talisman has its own mission now), but none as bad as the worst T2 has to offer. Given the choice between the well-paced, varied, and consistently fun missions from TG vs. the high peaks and low valleys of T2 which end on such a sour note, it's a no-brainer for me to choose the former, before even considering how much more engrossing I found the first game's setting and tone.

    I hope it's clear that I still enjoyed both games and can appreciate both of their strengths; I just have a personal preference for what the first game was going for and think there are some overlooked flaws in the sequel. I'm happy to hear different points of view (but be warned that I will not be dissuaded from my stance on savescumming).
    Last edited by RoSoDude; 1st Mar 2020 at 13:51.

  4. #29
    Registered: Aug 2003
    Location: Phoenix, AZ, USA, Earth
    Thank you RoSoDude for that very interesting read! Its always enjoyable to hear new players' initial reactions. I happen to strongly agree with you on the choice of the first game, even siding with many of your points of argument. Sound design, mission variety, and atmosphere draws me to TG, but away from T2. I like Soulforge but can't stand Framed, so we disagree on some individual missions. I think Mage Towers is heavily underrated, and the Sword is imho as good a mission as you'll ever see. Bonehoard is very strong indeed, and i like that you actually enjoy Thieves Guild.

    Your way of writing is highly engrossing, so thanks for sharing your thoughts.
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