The reviews for Thief are fresh of the panini press and now the entire gaming community is disappointed. Well, with the reviews I guess. But since the reviews are across the board suggesting that the new Thief is bordline something you sweep under the carpets for the mice to eat, there isn't much light at the end of the tunnel for those of us who have this thing on pre-order. I'm not here to talk about that though. I'd rather just use this as a great segway to attack a different issue which I've attached before in the past. Though last time I'm pretty sure I was the one who got beaten up worse.
In Thief they're called Focus Abilities; in The Last of Us I'm going to call them...Focus Abilities; in GTA V I'm going to call them....Let me think...Focus Abilities; in the Tomb Raider reboot I'll call them...ummmmmm....Focus Abilities! Yea that's it! They're everywhere now.
Now, before you crank-out your super keyboards and begin dissenting like the dickens, I actually do like these abilities in CERTAIN games; games where they actually sort of make sense in terms of the gameworld. Like if the main character was a superhero, for instance Spiderman. I'd expect to be able to have the power to shoot webs, take a stronger than average beating, get a boner for red heads and have this "Spidey-Sense."
In the previous list of games mentioned each have a main character who is not a superhero of any kind. He/she is just some human being who just happens to be really NATURALLY good at certain things in life. This is what we call skill, and it is the gamer who in turn helps them utilize this skill to the maximum. Which, in turn, means the gamer controlling them has skill. G@mER $kiLLz (I got mad mario kart 64 skillz, yo!). However, for some reason, we have the ability to do something SUPERNATURAL.
In Thief, actually, I hear the main dude got in some "Accident" which would explain how he so conveniently got these focus abilities (Did this accident make him want to steal stuff too?). I guess all superheros at one time needed some freak "accident" to happen to give them super powers (instead of death). Yet, it's still easily arguable (and far more likely) that this accident, in this instance, was contrived for the sake of adding in Focus abilities, not the other way around.
Ok. Ok. Enough blabbering and on to more blabbering. What are the reasons these DEVs have felt the need (the need for speed) to put these powers into their games? I came up with Two REasons. Maybe ya'll know more.
1) Bring the masses in. AKA: Make the game a little easier and save some time. This means, more sales and more cash baby. Then, SEQUEL.
- The original Thief series is NOT a walk in the park. Unless it's a walk in the park with your girlfriend when something is on her mind, cause that could be hell. While they're a couple of examples of modern games bringing some serious difficultly (Dark Souls), this is certainly a minority. The idea for most DEVs is to get as many people into their game as possible. Finding your way around a 3D digital space, especially an extremelly dark one, is not that easy and requires a lot of patience. So why not highlight the important crap!? Yes, I'm looking at you too new Tomb Raider. There is without a doubt no question that Focus Abilities in the games I've mentioned today-- TLOU, Tomb Raider, Thief and GTA V-- are there partly to make the game easier. Just like when you die too many times in Super Mario 3D World (and Land) and you get a free Stone Tanooki suit.
2) Bring in the ACTION baby, the SPECTACLE. I need EXPLOSIONS and I need BRIGHT LIGHTS. Tonight, we Party!!!
- A game based purely on stealth sounds cool but I think the DEVs fear the game will become boring if the only thing you can do is stick to the shadows and cling to the ceilings. So, it's time to enhance the gameplay. Give the gamer more tools to solve the task at hand. Stuck in a room with clickers? Don't worry, hit this button and now you can see them through walls!!! Just look at those effects. The world is now blurry and the sound is distorted and now you're just in the AUTOZONE ready to buy a pair of bearing pullers. About to crush that car? It's all good dude. This black guy can make time go slow and you'll avoid not only that station wagon but also that pile of dog-doo on the sidewalk.
In Thief the focus abilities can be turned off. BUT, but, but, but, BUTT, this still doesn't change the fact that the gameworld was most likely designed with the focus abilities in mind. Now if you check out the reviews for Thief, level design seems to be an issue. I'm of the belief that if these DEVs had to design the gameworld darn well knowing there would be NO focus abilities, they would have designed the world differently. Sure, I guess that doesn't guarantee brilliant level design, however it would have meant for no BS. Straight up, pure organic fruit cups, where the DEVs know the gamer is going to need to get through this without any help from SUPER POWER McGEE.