Why You Should Be Excited About Thief
Yesterday's announcement that the Thief series was not only being rebooted but released on the PS4 as well as the PC brought two types of reactions: old school PC gamers expressing large amounts of excitement and newer gamers, or PlayStation only gamers, not quite sure what the excitement was about. Despite the fact the Thief series had made a console appearance with Thief: Deadly Shadows, the third game in the series, the game was limited to the PC and the Xbox and by large did not live up to the legacy of the first two games. To fully appreciate what this new Thief announcement means, and why, as PS4 fans, you should be excited by it, we need to first take a look at the history of the series.
Released in 1998 exclusively for the PC, Thief defined what is commonly known as the stealth genre: a genre of games where the objective is to make it through entire levels without being seen. These days, thanks to games like Splinter Cell, Hitman, the Batman Arkham series and, to an extent, Metal Gear Solid, this genre is well-known to gamers everywhere. But in 1998, stealth was limited to games like Metal Gear, where stealth was clumsily implemented at best and amounted to little more than trial and error when attempting to sneak by an enemy. Thief was the first game that proved stealth games could be done well and, surprisingly enough, has never been topped even 15 years later.
While Thief won't win any awards for technical achievements, and was even a bit ugly when it first released, it made up for this in spatial awareness: always needing to be aware of your settings at all times. As a thief, your best friends are darkness and silence while your worst enemies are light and combat. To this end, Thief utilized a real-time lighting system and put you in control of it. Thanks to main character Garrett's bow and specialty arrows, putting out torches and candles was a breeze thanks to a well-placed water arrow. The pattern of walking into a room, extinguishing the lights, knocking out the guards and robbing the place blind is one that never gets old. It's a mechanic that would be utilized in many stealth games to come.
The visuals were just one part of the equation, with the other part being sound. Many games these days dismiss the effects sound can have, providing the same noise for footsteps whether you're walking on wood or walking on metal. In Thief, failure can result from not realizing you're walking on gravel, enabling the guards to accurately hear your footsteps. It wasn't enough to simply knock out all the lights, you also had to watch your step. Luckily, like all situations, there is an arrow for that: the moss arrow, used to dampen all sounds wherever it lands. Buried deep within the stealth confines of Thief is a puzzle game, a game for anyone who has watched Ocean's Eleven and thought "I could pull off a job like that without eleven other men."
This is just a small sampling of the greatness that makes up Thief, which includes but is not limited to: higher difficulties that added more objectives which greatly increased replay value, huge levels that held multiple ways to complete objectives, a story that was not intrusive but still told a riveting tale and a game that guides you away from violence rather than towards it (a rare thing for a game these days). Everything that Thief did, Thief 2 ended up doing better, cementing itself as the top stealth franchise of its time even when competing franchises, such as Hitman, began to emerge. The third game in the series, Thief: Deadly Shadow, was a misstep, if only because of the streamlining that occurred when the game made the jump from PC exclusive to simultaneous PC and home console release.
Which brings us to Thief, announced yesterday for PS4, PC and other next generation consoles that have yet to be announced.
What we know about the game is slim; however, some details have emerged in addition to the picture shown above, which is the first shot of the game:
- The game is a reboot of the series, hence no subtitle or numeral designation.
- The game once again stars Garrett
- Garrett relies on his bow once again, which more than likely means all of his trick arrows will make a return
- Levels will include multiple pathways, enabling gamers to complete objectives in multiple ways
- There is an emphasis on stealing items; after all, Garrett is a thief. However, there is a larger overall story to be told.
- The game retains the steampunk setting the series is known for.
At this point, you may be wondering "As great as Thief was, won't this new game just suffer the same mistake the third game did? Won't they just streamline the concepts that made the first two games great for a console audience?" The answer to that is no, as we live in a different time. Games like Dishonored and Deus Ex: Human Revolution have shown that open-ended stealth games like the original Thief can live on a console and don't need to be dumbed down for a controller or a specific mindset. Dishonored captures a lot of what made the Thief series great and was a smashing success on both console and PC. It set the new standard for stealth games; the goal is to now include more of what made Dishonored great, not less.
In addition, the team behind Thief is Eidos Montreal, the same team behind Deus Ex: Human Revolution. While that game could be played as a straightforward action game, it shined brightest as a stealth game; in addition, Eidos Montreal has shown that they know how to give classic franchises the respect they deserve. Thief will greatly benefit from what they learned with Deus Ex: Human Revolution and we can be assured the game is in good hands.
So, why should you be excited about Thief for the PS4? Because hopefully it will take everything that made Thief 1 and 2 great, sprinkle in some next generation graphics and retake its rightful position as the king of all stealth games.
The staff at PS4 Experts will continue to sneak around in the shadows to uncover more information about Thief. In the meantime, let us know in the comments how you feel about the new Thief!
Article by - Joshua Phillips
Insert Date: 03/06/2013
It's no secret that Square Enix, the publisher behind Thief, is not doing well these days: many workers laid off, games cancelled and a reworking of how the company develops games have left the company in a sad state of affairs. Fans had hoped that Thief would come out of this mess unscathed but sadly, this doesn't look to be the case.
Polygon reports that the game is suffering from staff members leaving for other companies and the meddling of upper management among other problems. Some choice quotes from Polygon about the state of Thief include:
"According to one source, each new lead and senior designer would come with a new vision for the game. Old ideas — including stages and mechanics — would be rebuilt or scrapped."
"Sources emphasized the high level of talent and enthusiasm of team members, many of whom came to work on Thief because of their love of the franchise. Those same sources cited team politics and conflicting visions as cause for many departures and setbacks.
Square Enix will show off Thief for the first time to the gaming public at E3 2013; will it blow us away because of how it pushes the power of the PlayStation 4 or at how bad it is? Time will tell, but we're rooting for the former because we don't want to see another PlayStation 4 title get cancelled.
Update by - Joshua Phillips
Insert Date: 4/30/2013
March 20th, 2013 Update: Meet Garrett
Eidos have given us our first full in-game look at main character Garrett, opting for what the developer calls a "more mainstream look" that is "suited for action moves."
Nicolas Cantin, the game director for Thief, played a large role in designing this new look, borrowing elements from Altair of Assassin's Creed fame, who Cantin also designed.
In other news, Eidos has confirmed that you will be able to complete Thief without killing a single enemy if you so choose. The studio's last game, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, had a similar premise but required that players kill the bosses, making it impossible to do a no-kill run. Thief looks to remedy this, most likely handling bosses in the same way as Dishonored, providing both lethal and non-lethal ways of removing them.
Update by - Joshua Phillips
Insert Date: 03/20/2013
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