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Review

Thief Review

  • First Released Feb 25, 2014
    released
  • Reviewed Feb 24, 2014
  • PC
  • XONE
  • PS4
Jeremy Jayne on Google+

Crime of dispassion.

GameSpot may get a commission from retail offers.

Sometimes, Thief makes you feel...well, like a thief. The stars align, you've gathered some courage, and you swoop in to snatch a patrolling guard's coin purse unseen, and then swipe a goblet from under his nose. You sneak away, grin, and silently congratulate yourself for your unquestionable skill. Emphasis on the "silently" part, of course; any good thief knows it's best not to trumpet your accomplishments.

Other times, the illusion is shattered. You hide in the shadows while watching an alerted guard walk continuously in place against a pillar, or staring as he pirouettes with several of his comrades. You trigger loading screens so frequently you could be forgiven for thinking you weren't exploring an entire city as much as you were crisscrossing a series of walk-in closets. And so you growl your disapproval without caring who might hear you. You are no longer a thief; you're just playing one in a clumsy video game.

This house of ill-repute believes in providing only the most opulent kind of services.
This house of ill-repute believes in providing only the most opulent kind of services.

Such is the turbulent nature of Thief, a clunky, intriguing, slapdash, atmospheric stealth game that leashes you to its inconsistencies and gives you no choice but to submit to its whims. The resulting suffocation is at the very least an appropriate circumstance given the heavy aura of The City. This is indeed not just any city, but "The City," and while you play as Garrett, the master thief who starred in the previous Thief games, The City is the game's central character. It's an imposing and claustrophobic community, perpetually cloaked in darkness, from which gothic clock towers and grand cathedrals rise. As you navigate its narrow streets and scramble onto rooftops, you pass vagrants huddled around fires for warmth, and overhear couples express their fear of the sickness that has wafted into their city.

This is a place where the rich plunder and the poor seek refuge, so it's no wonder that a populist named Orion has come forth to champion the meek who suffer under the baron's rule. This sickness--chillingly called "the gloom"--does not distinguish between the wealthy and the destitute, and Thief occasionally dabbles in the class warfare themes that naturally result from this scenario. Unfortunately, the socioeconomic conflict is relegated to window-dressing status in favor of the mystical occurrences that drive the game's second half.

I guess that lasik surgery didn't go according to plan.
I guess that lasik surgery didn't go according to plan.

That's a shame, because Thief's main story ultimately goes nowhere. The game kicks off with an introductory chapter that shows Garrett's protégé, Erin, inadvertently falling to her doom at the hands of a cult in the midst of a magical ritual. As you push closer to the truth over the game's eight story chapters, the narrative loses all focus, the mystical mumbo jumbo takes over, and you're left with no real sense of closure. It doesn't help that the final, irritating, wrongheaded boss fight transitions into a final cutscene that offers no emotional payoff.

Thief is about where, and not about what. As you pursue side missions and main story objectives, you crouch and skim through the shadows, letting The City swallow you, and avoiding the eyes of the city watch. Everywhere you go, you see trinkets on barrels, coins on banisters, and locked boxes likely to contain wondrous jewels within. The objects you snatch are immediately converted to currency, and there's something deliciously nefarious about grabbing everything you can that isn't nailed down. When you first take a hairbrush from a nightstand or a ring lying on the pavement next to a corpse, you sense that this is an item of real value, both financial and emotional. Eventually, the very act of stealing becomes second nature, and in that sense, Thief does an excellent job of immersing you in Garrett's selfish indifference. He steals from the rich, from the dead, and from the downtrodden to give to...himself.

The minimap can come in handy, but the game keeps it turned off by default. In fact, the game removes it each time you load a new area.
The minimap can come in handy, but the game keeps it turned off by default. In fact, the game removes it each time you load a new area.

As you navigate its narrow streets and scramble onto rooftops, you pass vagrants huddled around fires for warmth, and overhear couples express their fear of the sickness that has wafted into their city.

Taking in the sights of The City is rewarding; moving around in it is not. The first time I emerged from the clock tower that serves as Garrett's home base, I looked upon the industrial tableau and imagined all of the adventure waiting for me there. Exploratory freedom, however, is not Thief's style. Sure, you do find hidey-holes to investigate, and missions often feature carefully structured architecture that provides you multiple routes of infiltration. But going about your business in the hub world has you hitting one loading screen after another when you transition into a new area, often without warning. You might simply sneak into an abode when you force a window open--or you might have to endure a loading screen first. Squeezing between some fallen lumber might reveal a hidden nook, or it might initiate--you guessed it--a loading screen. Thief is frustratingly segmented in unintuitive ways, and it keeps The City from being fun to navigate. Even the limited wall-climbing afforded by your new claw gadget can't free the game from its self-imposed claustrophobia.

Be vewwy, vewwy quiet.
Be vewwy, vewwy quiet.

The goal, of course, is to navigate The City as quietly as you can; if you're busted, you're not much of a thief. Many of the stealth mechanics have a great feel to them, starting with the quick dash known as the swoop. Swooping may not be part of the series' legacy, but there's no doubting its appeal: you rush forward a few feet with a gratifying "whoosh," gliding over broken glass that would raise a nearby guard's suspicions if you trod upon it, or quickly snuffing out a candle so you can slink away in protective darkness. Pressing against cover and peeking from behind isn't a typical Thief series mechanic (and unlike in Thief: Deadly Shadows, you don't flatten your back against walls), but has a nice tactile quality to it. This is due in no small part to how you see Garrett's hands grasp the sides of the crate you're hiding behind, so that the peeking move feels more like a human motion and less like an unnatural tilt.

Actually putting these moves to good use reveals Thief's oft-ridiculous AI flaws. Unrealistic enemy behavior is hardly new to the series, or to stealth games in general, but given how seriously Thief takes itself, the silly AI becomes a distraction. A guard might get stuck running in place against a scaffold, or several guards will chase you into a corner, only to let you off scot-free because they can't navigate around each other. At times, it doesn't feel as though you are outwitting your foes as much as you are exploiting their inability to climb; sometimes you can just drop down from a ledge and your pursuer will give up simply because he can't see you or follow you.

As you push closer to the truth over the game's eight story chapters, the narrative loses all focus, the mystical mumbo jumbo takes over, and you're left with no real sense of closure.

No Caption Provided

There are some lovely touches, such as the way guards notice that a door has opened, and the ribald conversations they have with each other when they aren't alerted to your presence. But these details are hardly new to stealth games--or to other genres for that matter--and so their impact is significantly lessened given Thief's AI glitches and endlessly repeated ambient dialogue. In turn, the tension so important to successful stealthing is diminished. In the best sneaking games, making your way to your objective while maximizing your effectiveness feels like maneuvering through a giant deadly trap. Thief rarely captures the right sense of risk, however, which in turn reduces the sense of reward. There are all sorts of ways to make the game more (or less) difficult; if you're inclined to pooh-pooh Thief for not being hardcore enough for you, you can tailor the heads-up display to your liking, turning options on and off as you see fit. Yet making the game harder isn't a magic solution to the aberrant AI.

The game is at its best when you minimize or fully remove the effects of its most obvious nod to modern game design: focus. Focus is a catchall mechanic that changes its effects based on context. If you're just wandering around, activating focus reveals interactive objects like loot to snatch and locks to pick. If you're in trouble and need to beat down a persistent guard, it slows down time and lets you target the guard for maximum damage. Focus is the kind of mechanic that gets old-school Thief series enthusiasts in a tizzy, though again, you can simply turn focus off if you don't like it. The problem with focus isn't that it makes the game too easy. The problem is that it does so by dulling the world around you rather than making you feel like a more effective, more knowledgeable thief.

What valuables might be inside? A brooch? A coin? A trinket of no monetary value but with deep personal meaning to its owner?
What valuables might be inside? A brooch? A coin? A trinket of no monetary value but with deep personal meaning to its owner?

It's nice, for instance, that you can get the additional help when you're forced into melee combat against a sword-wielding guard. But it doesn't make the combat enjoyable or even unlock cool new fighting animations: you still just swing the blackjack with the aplomb of a three-year-old flailing a stick. Sometimes having the additional time to pick locks that focus affords you is welcome, but picking locks doesn't suddenly become more entertaining as a result--you just finish faster. You can upgrade these skills by spending some money or by stumbling across upgrade shards during your travels, but I quickly found that applying those upgrades never made me feel more agile or more effective--they just sapped the tension from missions. I soon relegated focus to a single use: illuminating interactive objects around me. My funds instead went toward tools like the socket wrench and wire cutters--tools that actually made me feel like a potent Thief by giving me access to new areas and allowing me to disarm deadly traps.

In spite of focus's questionable value, some of the tricks Garrett holds up his tight-fitting sleeves are a blast to pull off, and a bow might be the most vital tool he carries. You can loose water arrows at flaming sconces to spread the darkness, attach rope arrows to prescribed grapple points and climb to new areas, and launch sawtooth arrows into pesky guards' skulls. The fire arrow is another standout, in no small part because of how you can use one to set alight a standing puddle of oil. Enemies standing in such an oil puddle are burned to a crisp, and you can only cackle at their fiery misfortune. This method of extermination is put to particularly good use in Thief's requisite asylum level (didn't we just do this in Deadly Shadows?), where you encounter blind subhuman foes that burn up real good.

Anyone know the time?
Anyone know the time?

The asylum mission is one of Thief's better ones, in part because it heightens the ambient anxiety and dabbles in horror elements. However, this atmospheric terror is not matched by a sense of real danger; until the mission's later moments, there's little to be afraid of. My favorite mission, however, was an optional one in which you lead a drunkard through the level by clearing away the obstacles that inhibit his progress. It's a cheekily wicked process with a few dark laughs in store. Most side missions are quickly accomplished and forgotten, however, with the story missions providing most of the intrigue. While the iffy enemy behavior often tempers the fun, stumbling upon a previously unnoticed avenue of entry brings a nice feeling of accomplishment along with it.

As Thief seesawed up and down, my enjoyment of it followed suit. Each time I thought I might fall in love, the game doused my passions with a new annoyance. There was the bug that had me swimming in place on top of some boards I'd leapt to. (Thank goodness for reloadable checkpoints!) There were the times I scratched my head wondering why I couldn't take cover behind one crate but could behind an identical one. (The rules of locomotion are never absolutely clear.) But then the love affair was rekindled the moment I pinched out a candle's flame and yanked a dowager's earrings from her lobes unnoticed. (Unrealistic, certainly, but joyful nonetheless.) Whether you are new to the series or cut your teeth on Thief's particular brand of stealth when it was still novel, I'd wager your feelings will waver as often as mine did. The Thief-franchise-inspired Dishonored waves the stealth flag far more confidently than this reboot does. Garrett is not yet on his way out, but he's been shown the door.

Back To Top
The Good
Oppressive atmosphere envelops you in thematic and visual shadows
Swooping around and thieving valuables from under guards' noses is a blast
It's fun to find cool ways to put your various tools to use
The Bad
The City's choppy structure injures exploration and immersion
Glitchy AI and other clunky issues drain the game of tension
Incoherent story that ends without any sense of payoff
6
Fair
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Kevin VanOrd has been sneaking in the shadows as Garrett since the release of Thief: The Dark Project. He spent about 15 hours with Thief, and reckons that he would have finished the game in eight hours or so if he'd focused on just the story.
1999 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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NY-CO212303

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I think this game is under rated. It may lack some of the super intelligent AI and fluidity of modern games but to those who go out of their way to search for a game like this, I say buy it. The game is great for people who are into stealth games, period games, and who are mechanically inclined. This game intrigued me enough to pick up lock picking and archery in real life(both of which I've gotten very handy with) and has brought me many hours of fun(ex: putting a broad head arrow into a guards head while moments later pouncing on another guard to knock him out with the blackjack. I think the AI is more than suitable to make a player be very cautious about approaching, sneaking around, or pickpocketing guards. Lastly, I love the setting and time period. The game really let's me escape a long day of working and raising two babies :)

Great game! I would recommend it to anyone who wants to walk the shadows, break into buildings and take down guards. It's realistic enough to satisfy the urge in us all to break the rules, minus the legal ramifications lol

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Defenseman13

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@ny-co212303: Play the first three. THis one is garbage.

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ufopuller

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@ninboxstation Dishonored 100%

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ufopuller

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Compared to Dishonored, this a similar game, except for the "blink" feature and controlling rats, slowing time, seeing enemy & objects through walls etc. I really enjoyed playing it and look forward to Thief II and "Gold"!

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Gadeos

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Came here to see if it was worth playing it because this month is FREE for PS plus members... I reckon it's not.

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prince__vlad

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That is what is happening to console garbage ports, they stink. Ubisoft blew it again with a great franchise. This is everything but any resemblance of thief legacy. Everything is confusing, loading screens, you don't know where you are, a minimap when pressing M instead of a full map etc. I am happy I didn't waste money on this one at all. I'll stick with the original Thief games, this one is not part of that.

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Strategizer

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@prince__vlad Square enid and eidos montreal made this thief, not Ubisoft.

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Ezioprez9709

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Edited By Ezioprez9709

Don't let this be a medieval Batman Arkham Asylum...

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moc5

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Thanks a gain for helping me dodge a bullet, Kevin.

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Cloud_imperium

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One of the greatest disappointments ever , in the history of video games .

"Incoherent story that ends without any sense of payoff"

What a shame . The story had always been one of the biggest reasons why Thief games were so amazing . After almost a decade of wait , this is what they gave to Thief fans .?

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AltidKold

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@Cloud_imperium: Thief: Deadly Shadow's story was awesome imo, and was the game that got me into the series.. So I also had high hopes for this Thief and thoroughly enjoyed it, the gameplay and setting but the story wasn't nearly as captivating as T:DS, and the ending especially left a lot to be desired.

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Cloud_imperium

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@altidkold: Agreed. Deadly Shadows definitely had an amazing story. TBH, all Thief games had a great story AND great gameplay (Thief: Deadly Shadows had dumbed down gameplay but it was still amazing). New Thief sucks at pretty much everything.

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AltidKold

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@Cloud_imperium: agreed indeed. Though I still occasionally play this new Thief, I still enjoy the gameplay, love the dark setting but it definitely doesn't quite have the magic that DS did.. I would still love a sequel to this Thief, or a "prequel" if you will, that explores the rebooted world's past (so that it would include the hammers, pagans, keepers)

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edussz

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Edited By edussz

Just picked it up on humble bundle store for 10 bucks... Sadly, it was not worth it...

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juliano001

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Edited By juliano001

Completely disagree with kevin vanord. This game is amazing and with all the goodies all previous thief games always had.


Dont know why vanord complained about supernatural in thief. All other thief games had supernatural and this is a good factor, not bad in my opinion.


You need to know HOW to play thief. You need to slow down the pace and EXPLORE. This is a stealth game, not a shooter. So far i am at chapter 5 and i am enjoying this game immensely. Thank you Eidos for a GREAT game. Easy a 8.5 score.

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Defenseman13

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@juliano001: game sucked, sorry

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Tomcat2007

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Edited By Tomcat2007

I was very surprised how good this game was. This has actually been my favorite game so far on the Xbox One.

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evin777

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Edited By evin777

I have played thief 1 and 2 and i loved them. I ordered this game for pc the site said it would take 3 days to deliver this game.... one of my friends got this game before me... i was excited but when i played this game.. i said what the f#ck is this? when i got this game... I gifted this to my lovely cousin for his birthday in advanced.... this game Is just a piece of shit...

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MrTakeda

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@xantufrog @MrTakeda Normal difficuty, and if what you say is true I must be better at games then I thought, I just dodged at the right moment and wacked every now and then and eventually they would all drop dead. So far I can take down four gaurds without dieing. And in some levels four gaurds cover over half the mission area. The only mission I have enjoyed so far is the Bank Heist, and thats a bonus mission for those who were foolish enough to pre order this mess.

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GAMBINO85

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Edited By GAMBINO85

spot on.

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iknowthepiecesf

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Edited By iknowthepiecesf

Sadly, this is a poor game. I was hopeful but now i am so disappointed.Anyone who is considering to buy it; dishonored is a far better game than this. Dont waste your money.

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ufopuller

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@iknowthepiecesf Agreed!


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G_D_G_D

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Edited By G_D_G_D

Only on a video game review site would readers consider a three-star review (6/10) to be some sort of insult.

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browsif

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Edited By browsif

I've been playing this on XBox360 and twice now it's glitched, not updated the autosave file and I've noticed it also deletes your 'self save' file after you quit the game or turn the system off.


This has caused me to lose over 3 hours progress and caused me to re-do parts I'd already finished. Means I won't be wasting anymore time with this game. A pity really as I was quite enjoying it.................

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xantufrog

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Edited By xantufrog  Moderator

For anyone still interested in this game after the mixed reviews. I tried Mantle with it today with great results. Please note that the "greatness" of the results will depend on what's in your system and where your bottlenecks are.

In my case, running a Phenom II X4 BE with MSI R7 260X OC card and 8GB onboard ram @1680x1050 with FXAA, no SXAA, and "normal/default" settings for everything else, I see ~12FPS improvement on minimum, maximum, and average FPS. That's... a big improvement.


TrueAudio for the reverb seems weird - the echos may use fancy pants physics, but they sound pretty unnatural for my surroundings (based on only brief experimentation)

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cswatcoz

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Edited By cswatcoz

i only want to know one thing. whats the third offense?

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MrTakeda

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Edited By MrTakeda

I have been playing on the Ps3 version, I have just finished chapter two, 6/10 is very generous in my opinion. 5/10 is my score. I just don't understand why you are able to beat fully armored guards to death with a club! I remember in Thief Deadly shadows when Garrett could barely stay alive in a fight with a dagger! And yet in this game the club can defeat guards in five hits!

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G_D_G_D

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@MrTakeda


And just think about it: 5/10 is a two-and-a-half star review, which is exactly what most reviewers would give a movie about sneaking around that didn't do anything special.


Yet here on a video game review Web site, readers consider a three-star review (6/10) of an unremarkable game to be an insult!

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xantufrog

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xantufrog  Moderator

@MrTakeda What the hell difficulty are you playing? Confrontations with the guards are a sad affair for Garrett. Best to, you know, sneak around

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hadlee73

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Edited By hadlee73

I don't know how other people feel, but I reckon Jebediah Chokes is a right prick.

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piyush529

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Edited By piyush529

I am playing this game right now, and I can't understand all the hate.Maybe it's because I have not played the earlier games.But, as a standalone game, I found it really good, with some thrilling and tense moments.

It may or may not be what the fanboys were looking for, but for someone who is new to the franchise, I think it is a game worth playing.

If you play it on master difficulty and selectively use focus and try to play it with stealth, then you might feel that it is a really refreshing game with great ambiance.So, please stop the hating guys.

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toshineon

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@piyush529 Like you said, you have to have played the earlier games to understand most of what people don't like about this. I certainly understand where both sides are coming from, but I always play at least one of the earlier games in any series before playing the new one if I've never played it before, so that I know what I should compare it to.


All in all, I can say this: It may not be too bad of a game on it's own, but as long as it carries the name "Thief", it's gonna have to live with being compared to the other games.

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Darn shame. But I think dishonoured sated my thirst for stealth and thievery anyway. And that game had an excellent story- games with good stories never leave me.

Good review Kevin VanOrd.

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ufopuller

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@Evamorgana Agreed!

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toshineon

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It's great to see a new "AAA" game get a low score for once. I've been disappointed by so many new games that got a 8 or 9 from several review sites. For example, I hated Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, they absolutely butchered the series, and anything that was great about the franchise is completely absent in that game.

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Zenwork21

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Edited By Zenwork21

I think it is an excellent review

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VendettaEternal

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Edited By VendettaEternal

Is there any possible way to use my Ps4 on a PSP? Theres like no information but I figured that a smart tech bunch like on here might have worked something out perhaps. Thank you for your help if its possible. It sucks that thing is going to waste now.

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cspresimir

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Edited By cspresimir

"Pressing against cover and peeking from behind isn't a typical Thief series mechanic"

Of course it is, it was called "leaning" in the Dark Project and the Metal Age.

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MashedBuddha

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@cspresimir It was completely different in the original games! You could lean whereever you wanted, left or right. In the new game you have to be next to a doorway or box or other predetermined spot. It's not terrible but there are areas I wish I could use it but it won't work there.

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zizo490

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if u guys want to really enjoy this game play it on custom difficulty and make it master,disable focus.no reticle thats will make hard like original thief because if u have focus every thing will be easy in the game.

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ninboxstation

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@zizo490

agree! no focus and no arrow recticle should be turn off

lso turn on "0 alterts", "stealth takedowns only" (and if you play 0 alerts, and no focus, might as well play with "0 damage" and "no food & no poppies"..)

with no focus, the gameplay/stealth evolves... (but the lame reviewers palyed with it on, and still had troubles with the game -.-' ...)


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Dark_Rage

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They gave this and Rambo the same score, Gamespot has become a joke.

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G_D_G_D

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@Dark_Rage


I agree - both scores are probably too high.


Come on, think about it. This is a three out of five star review for a game that the reviewer says wasn't that great. If it were a movie with that score, we'd all expect it to be worth seeing in the opening week.

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ninboxstation

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Edited By ninboxstation

@Dark_Rage

Gamespot, IGN and (especially) EGM are losing credibility

(they either need to get younger reviewers, who an play difficult-ish games, or get reviewers who have patience and a real understanding of game genres..)

because lately, when games become slightly difficult or have unexpected gameplays or are genre typical/untypical (if you know/understand the genre), the reviewers simply suck at them, get frustrated and give (way) to low scores..

(maybe the reviewers have gotten too used to playing/finishing the games on easy, to make it till the review deadline fast, before other media/prints, and therefore have gotten "soft" at playing game.., especially since the 360/PS3 gen, games of become so easy/cusaul like never before...)

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ninboxstation

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* easy/casual like never before...

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ninboxstation

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@lilmcnessy @kaoshunt

Skyrim loades more often and longer than Thief..

(at least Skyrim 360 vs Thief PS4)

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ninboxstation

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Edited By ninboxstation

LOL... Gamespot gave it a low socre, way too low..., but they don't delete review critical posts like EGM DOES, I'll give Gamespot credit for that..

and EGM are now THE LOWEST OF ALL REVIEWERS..., they kept deleting reviewer critical posts , and they gave the game a incompetent low score of 3.5/10, but can't stand straight for it.

(I was asking the reviewer, why he didn't see more "good" thing in the review in the "good, bad and ugly", and the post keept getting deleted.....)

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mourato

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Edited By mourato

This game is getting better and better, I'm chapter Forsaken and oh my god!!!

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ninboxstation

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Edited By ninboxstation

@mourato

agree... and when played on Master, with 0 Alerts, stealth takedowny only, no focus, 0 damage (and maybe even 0 kills & 0 knockouts), it's can even surpass Dishonoreds stealth feelings.. (when playing Dishonored 100% stealth with 0 alarms..)

overall, it's not as good as Dishonored (which was more polished, felt like it had a bigger budget, and is more an "action"-adventure" than Thief, plus has more gameplay details than Thief....),

but as a "stealth" game, Thief comes up very close to the overall Feeling many were hoping for after Deadly Shadows... and what counts, the stealth mechanics (master), the atmosphere & exploring (the complex, not alway so simple to see through city hut and roof tops) and looting, which are great...,

sure it has a few issues and doens't feel as blockbuster like an Ubisoft (big budget) game..., but it's feels like what a Thief game of today should feel like, when looking at "stealth" games..

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Edited By MashedBuddha

@ninboxstation They overdid some things, but I agree, the stealth gameplay, which is what Thief is all about, is better than playing Dishonored with only stealth. And after Forsaken, which was very creepy and has a few surprises (well done but not my fav kind of level actually), I opened up all the Basso side jobs and I'm having a blast with those. That's where the game really started to kick in for me - the exploration and unique little apartments, some of which you can stumble upon accidentally but without the mission elements until you accept the job, really help to make the city a considerably more interesting place. And adds value to the game. So the game gets better the more you play.... Hopefully more gamers will realize this.

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Thief More Info

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  • First Released Feb 25, 2014
    released
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • + 4 more
    • PlayStation 3
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    Thief is a reinvention of a classic franchise that has players take on the role of Garrett, THE master thief. When the city that created and defines him is threatened, Garrett must step from the shadows and uncover the truth before his world is torn apart forever.
    7
    Average Rating751 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Thief
    Developed by:
    Feral Interactive, Nixxes Software, Eidos Montreal
    Published by:
    Feral Interactive, Square Enix
    Genre(s):
    Action, Adventure
    Theme(s):
    Fantasy
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    Blood, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs, Violence