I can’t be as forgiving as some of the reviews already circulating. Simply put, while the gameplay seemed promising as I was being introduced to Thief, there were far too many constant inconsistencies in the production of it all. While at first I was forgiving of the poor audio and visual qualities, with interesting gameplay luring me, the constant reminder of the inferior production kept frustrating me to the point where I was not able to enjoy the experience.
Developer: Eidos Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
Distributor: Megarom Interactive
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also available on: Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC
If we had to give it a numerical score: 6/10
What I liked
- Interesting gameplay mechanics
- The game’s world
- Atmospheric score
Not so much
- Bland and lacking textures
- Frame-rate issues
- Slow-loading textures galore
- Buggy visuals
- Terrible quality and repetitive sound-effects
- Some out of sync audio
Thief’s audio and visuals are an absolute stand-out, but unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. The muddy textures, lacking resolution and frame-rate issues is not the sum of it either – there’s plenty of bugs too. Visually the game looks as though it only received a few layers, and was not checked for inconsistencies. The graphics quality as a whole was a letdown. I mean the characters look “cool” from afar, as does the atmospheric city the game takes place in. Up close though, I can’t think of anything that really impressed. The camera movement at first – very promising, with some great little touches – but then the camera’s cumbersome movement and lack of any real sort of dynamical movement, would result in me being disorientated all but too often.
The audio quality is even worse. Thief’s orchestral score starts of very well, but the repetition means it became tedious. The voice acting is apt, but then the ridiculous amount of copy/paste voice effect annoy. The example that was constantly a nuance, was every other person in the game clears their throat in the same manner, and constantly. Every few seconds, the same annoying loop of sounds.
In terms of gameplay, the introduction to the mechanics had me pretty intrigued and excited actually. There’s some really interesting touches, things like the cover-system, with the dynamic leaning ability – works really well to compliment the stealth aspect. The ability to “swoosh” past foes in the shadows, all very impressive. During the tutorial, you chase another thief, and for a few seconds there, it looked as though I would enjoy some Assassin’s Creed-like platforming. Unfortunately, some cumbersome mechanics and clumsy camera would put a damper on this happening. Free-flowing long parkour bits would often come to a sudden, unflattering halt.
The gameplay would also completely fall apart should you decide to trade blows with any guards. The bumper button triggers a clumsy and random swing at the foe, if you land a few (random) blows, you can then hold the button in to trigger a final blow. I would’ve been able to deal with the archaic fighting mechanics if I could’ve defended myself. Supposedly, holding in LT and hitting the thumb-stick left or right would result in dodging attacks. I could count the number of times this actually worked for me one hand, until I decided to just avoid trading blows all together. I get that this is a stealth game, but really, you will alarm guards somewhere down the line, and the ability to deal with them would’ve been nice.
The stealth theme is well complimented by the gadgets, with a claw and crossbow taking center-stage. The crossbow can be armed with various arrowheads, which can aid in anything from setting things alight to grappling. This aspect of the game showed so much potential, as did the stealth theme in general. There’s a worthy and easy to use skill-tree, which is upgraded, and plenty to loot, sell or buy. Again however, a little weirdness, like you can only carry so much ammo or bottles in your inventory, the latter used to distract, but then you can carry as much sellable objects as you wish. I found needing to stash my findings in my hideout as unnecessary at times.
The stealth theme is also complimented by, firstly the ability to really turn up the difficulty settings, but also by the well designed multi-leveled gaming world. You have the freedom to get from A to B in different ways, be it sneaking around the shadows, the rooftops or underground tunnels. If you get stuck, you can use a vision-power to show any clues – where you can climb, grapple or use your claw to reach.
Finally I will conceive that there really is plenty to do in Thief – there’s plenty of main-mission objectives, and plenty of side-missions. Going off the main narrative was often where I found the most joy. And while the game’s world is big enough, it is broken down into areas. So when loosely compared with to say the world in Batman Arkham games, I can’t see why it had to be such a poor visual experience.
I can’t remember being so irritated with a game as with this latest Thief. I did not play the previous titles in the series, so it’s not that it didn’t live up to its predecessors, it was just that the game was so poorly put together. Yes, I agree that the gameplay warrants merit, with some stylish mechanics, but for every positive, there was usually a negative. The longer I played, the more the blatant inferior production became evident, ultimately detracting from any sort of real enjoyment.
At the risk of sounding like those before me, Thief is a promising title that should’ve been more, but is let down by inconsistencies on the Xbox 360 version. I would look at the other platforms.
Read about our ratings here.