This game was one of the first to establish the stealth genre, and is still worth playing today.

User Rating: 8 | Thief: The Dark Project PC
I really wish I had played this game when it first came out. Instead, I only read about it a couple of years ago and by then had a hard time finding a place to buy it. Finally I managed to get my hands on the Thief Complete Collection so that I could pay homage to one of the godfathers of the stealth genre and see what the hype was about. The good news is that the game is still fun. The bad news is that after 12 years the game definitely shows some rust, which may or may not be overlooked depending on how patient you are.

Gameplay: 3.5/5
+ There's no denying that the gameplay was a drastic change from the games of the time. Instead of the usual First Person Shooter where you charge at enemies with guns blazing, Thief is a First Person Sneaker where your goal is to avoid confrontation. The combat is unique in that the creators make an important distinction saying Garrett (the protagonist) is not a warrior but a thief (go figure, considering the title). Therefore you should not expect to be able to take all the enemies on face-to-face. In fact, if you try this you'll most likely die a quick death. Instead, you are encouraged to stay in the shadows, stay quiet, sneak up on enemies, and kill them from behind with your blackjack (a club that will knock an enemy out without noise or bloodshed) or sword (which will cause more noise and leave blood on the ground). Your other options are to pick the enemies off from a distance with your arsenal of arrows, or to completely ignore the enemies and sneak around them. I applaud the creative endeavors that go along with this but I do have to nitpick some by saying that there are a few scenarios where you are forced into combat since you are surround on all sides. In these instances you feel completely helpless wielding a sword since it does little damage after an enemy is aware of your presence and since an enemy wielding a sword can easily kill you with three to four quick swipes. I understand the point in trying to avoid face-to-face combat, but at least they could have tweaked it some so that you don't feel completely helpless when you do have to use your sword. Another problem I discovered which turned into a major nuisance was the field of view of melee weapons. When wielding the blackjack or sword what appears on screen is not exactly what is happening in the game world. What I mean by this is if you are standing near an enemy and swing your sword it will miss even though you think you are really close and there's no way that you'd miss. This is a subtle aspect that could surely have had more tweaking since you are encouraged to sneak up to enemies and melee them from behind. Often times I would swing my weapon thinking I was close to enemy (judging from my sword/blackjack and the distance I was from the enemy) only to hear the whoosh noise of a miss. Another small annoyance was jumping, mantling (climbing up ledges), and climbing ropes. I just found it cumbersome and hit-or-miss, but thankfully you aren't asked to do it that often. The doors also get stuck if anything should happen to get in the way when opening or closing them, which becomes quite a frequent problem. My final issue I had was that some levels seemed too random and sprawling, and countless times I would have to backtrack because I missed one important puzzle element that I was supposed to encounter earlier in the level. Sure, this game provides you the freedom to roam around the level but there could have been better directions for mission objectives. Other than that there were still some highly redeeming aspects of gameplay. The maps shown are some of the best I've ever encountered and most realistic for a game. You get them in the story through people drawing a rough sketch of how they remembered the place. Therefore, when you look at your map you just see a rough hand-drawn blueprint without much detail. The general area you are located is highlighted blue on the map, and you are given a compass, but I thought the map fit into the game perfectly since you should not know exactly the fine details and position of where you are like most modern games force-feed you with their maps. I also liked the element of thievery the game uses. In each level there are random gems, coins, and other valuables that you can steal. Then based on the value of the stolen items, you are given money to purchase more items for the next mission. This is an exceptional action-consequence system that lets you decide whether you want to steal all the loot in the level so that you are fully armed the next mission, or to simply steal what you need and be forced to have less arrows or health potions for the next map. Finally, there is the obvious ingenuity of all the different arrows and how you use them. You have broadhead arrows which are general purpose, water arrows which can extinguish torches and create shadows for you, moss arrows to create a quiet path so you don't make noise on hard surfaces, fire and gas arrows to do heavy damage to enemies, and rope arrows to provide you a way to climb higher in certain areas. Considering this game is 12 years old, I was really impressed at how open the levels seemed, how you are given the choice how to accomplish the mission (total stealth, stealthy kills, or any other way you can think of), and how you really are forced to be aware of your surroundings and have the patience to know when to move or when to stay still.

Story/Presentation: 4/5
+ The story is great and undoubtedly unique. Though you are only given a few cutscenes in between missions to explain what is happening, it is not hard to pick up the general idea that you are a master thief who soon gets in over his head and has to continue to use his stealth and tactical prowess to fix everything that happens. At the start I was confused exactly what type of world this is set in (originally I thought it was a purely historical and medieval setting with swords, kings, castles and the like) but then I began to see zombies and magic and realized it had fantasy elements to it. I personally would have liked to see less monsters and have more focus on stealing things and sneaking around instead. Still, I liked the story and especially liked when the tension begins to pick up after you've stolen the Eye.

Graphics: (N/A)
+ I think it's unfair to judge a game this old on its graphics since obviously they are subpar by today's standards. So instead I'll replace this with...
Audio: 5/5
+ The audio is very crucial to this game, and it is still superb today which is a good thing. You HAVE to listen to everything around you and whether there are footsteps signaling an approaching enemy, or whether your footsteps are too loud which could alert enemies near you. There are many different surfaces that each have a unique loudness when you walk over them, so you have to be very aware. It's not often where audio clues can be almost more important than visual clues, but this game fittingly plays off of both and does a spectacular job.

Value: 3/5
+ The game lasted me about 10 hours which is not very long by my standards, also considering I did have the Gold edition which adds a few bonus missions into the storyline. It does offer some replay value since the maps are so big and you can challenge yourself to try and find all the loot on all the levels (good luck). Also, with each increase in difficulty the objectives become slightly harder and more complicated (so I've read). I can't say if I will play this game again since I plan on starting the next Thief games immediately, but I can say that I'm glad that I did take the chance to visit and old classic.