Eidos’ Thief for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One & Windows PC
It may not be the best game I’ve played, but Thief is definitely the fastest-paced stealth game jaded old me has encountered in years. The heroic, likable protagonist, Garrett, is a cunning master thief and street survivor. Strong, athletic and a very good runner, the G-Man has got every savvy move he needs to succeed hands down. A remake of an old arcade classic by Eidos of Montreal, which is part of EA’s empire, Thief is, nevertheless, accessible to anyone who’s never played the game before. Sure it’s set in the same grimy, darkly lit, old evil medieval city you’ve encountered more or less in other games, but familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt. The plot and characters can stand alone, on their own.
Garrett is already hustling and stealing when we meet him. Lacking friends and family, Garrett has one buddy, Basso, sort of manager/promoter, and an apprentice, Erin. Slam-bang action and thievery is on from the get-go. Garrett wants to quit a heist after he and Erin walk into a strange black magic ritual. The stubborn Erin won’t leave, however, and we are plunged into a non-stop adventure that, though often predictable, is full of fights, murder, ghosts, humor, political plotting and disease and, that old standby, amnesia.
The City background, a segmented separated ‘world,’ is a starter hub for a series of missions and the side distractions, which are usually quests. Each ‘world’ is an enclosed area separated from each new one by a loading screen and a sort of cinematic ‘wipes.’ Meanwhile, Garrett does what he likes and you get to check things out as he burglarizes homeowners, beats up strangers and climbs all over the place while learning to read an encoded map.
Like my favorite, Etzio the Italian Renaissance hit-man in Assassin’s Creed 2, the monkey-like Garrett goes from rooftop to rooftop, dark corner to corner, so you learn to get a feel for the city and its nooks and crannies early on. It won’t be long before you know your way around. Meanwhile, a sort of GPS-type marker hovers on your screen and points you in the right direction.
Entries to all the story missions double as landmarks along Garrett’s path. Side missions are craftily hidden. There are eight main story missions, and each one took around 45-60 minutes to finish. Counting my all-too-human errors, which caused falls into the abyss, and weak hand-to-hand combat with guards, games actually end up eating up to around 90 minutes. There’s a nice mix of weapons like a Swiss-army-knife-type bow, which fires all manner of deadly and defensive projectiles, a nice flexible blackjack, an assortment of swords, knives, daggers and shields have you ready to rock and roll.
Of course, there are rewards to complement Garrett’s entertaining bravado. OCD gamers can rejoice! Every door that opens… every drawer… every cupboard and closet… under the floorboards: Treasure! Treasure! Treasure! Found objects like solid gold teapots have a value and can be instantaneously converted to currency. Currency collection is cool if you’re a born mercenary-type like yours truly because you can sit back, take inventory and trade your ill-gotten gains in for better, updated weapons. You can even choose to store your collected booty in Garrett’s clock-tower hideout. The best distractions involve some mode of mini-quest. My favorite being the lock-picking game where you learn to rotate the left joystick until the circle lights up. Scores of other missions will keep you occupied, too.
There are a few audio issues, and there are a few graphic glitches the Eidos quality-control people should have caught, Nevertheless, Thief is still a stellar addition to the spring release schedule. This is one of those games you and pretty much anyone else in your family can get thousands of hours of pleasure from and I recommend it.