Why the new Thief (2014) game sucks.

posted in: Games, Games Review | 0

Had the displeasure of playing the new Thief game, this was originally supposed to be a proper review, but as I play through the game, it rapidly turned into just a big list of things I hate about the game, and so i present ‘Why the new Thief game sucks.’

if only it said 'press [SPACE] to leap to your death and exit the game'
if only it said ‘press [SPACE] to leap to your death and exit the game’
Enemy AI is mind blowingly stupid, enemies will stare straight at you and not notice a thing and will fail to notice anything is amiss even if you dash through a brightly lit area in front of them or extinguish all the lights in an area. Perhaps it’s because i’m playing on normal, but for a game designed around stealth and detection, you would think that the guards would be programmed to be a little less…. y’know… stupid. Even if you get caught, it’s easy to outrun them or ‘outsmart’ them by hiding in a cupboard or simply out of sight. Worst to worst? you can take them head on by mashing R to stunlock a guard until they are dead, your blunt weapon being so strong that they couldn’t possibly swing their sword at you once. Guards also have a mild case of ADD, and will often give up looking after a few seconds and casually walk back to their posts and resume whatever they were doing – because hey, somebody else will catch that thief right? There’s certainly no need to alert the others and actually search around. If you don’t care for the silent pacifist route you can trivialize the game even further by knocking everyone out. Even metal gear solid on the PSX had better enemy AI than this.

I'm hiding in this screenshot because it was early days, turns out there's little need for sneaking.
I’m hiding in this screenshot because it was early days, turns out there’s little need for sneaking.
"god where could he be? i'm sure he ran into this dead end. Lets stand around for a bit then pretend nothing happened."
“god where could he be? i’m sure he ran into this dead end. Lets stand around for a bit then pretend nothing happened.”
Another fantastic example of a guard on alert.
Another fantastic example of a guard on alert.

The city, while stunning to look at, doesn’t actually have much to offer, a majority of the alleys lead to locked doors or brick walls, and windows lead to rooms with little to steal and force you to endure a painfully long open window animation. It’s also confusing to navigate, your waypoint will point vaguely in the correct direction but getting there is an exercise in frustration as you try to navigate the multi tiered streets full of dead ends – and that is of course, when the waypoint feels like working at all, on multiple occasions the waypoint failed to update leading me just kind of wandering around hoping to find the next objective. There are also a few too many invisible walls for my liking, with the player only being able to essentially walk on flat surfaces, it seems a little odd that there is no actual jump button in the game (all jumping is contextual) and as a result garret can get hindered by the tiniest of objects on the floor, or die to the stupidest of jumps – I managed to die while jumping through a climbable rope because of the contextual mechanics.
The game also manages to have a map which is completely useless, one of the earlier missions introduces you to all of the NPC’s that can upgrade your equipment or sell you items, yet if you fail to take note of where exactly they are, you (like myself) will probably never be able to find them again.

Shipping-ThiefGame 2014-03-02 16-18-07-77

The loot which fill the levels and the city itself glows obnoxiously bright by default and is placed in the most bizarre of places, by all accounts garret should consider quitting his job as a thief and just run around alleys and sewers for the copious amounts of gold which line them. This makes collection more of a chore than a feel good task, particularly when everything is animated, the individual pieces are also small and aren’t really worth much. The loot of course is used to upgrade your character, via equipment and skills, there is some variety here but for the most part it’s the usual affair of upgrading gadgets and a few sneaking skills (faster lockpicking for example).

Do you enjoy mashing E while staring at a low resolution window? this might be the game for you if so
Do you enjoy mashing E while staring at a low resolution window? this might be the game for you if so

Other issues:

I had somewhat of an issue with the second chapter and it’s requirement to use the focus ability, particularly when the game offers you the ability to disable it completely. There are a multitude of switches placed in a secret hideout which you need to press to advance, they blend in and are virtually impossible to spot without using the focus mechanic (and so helix have mercy on you if you have environment alerts turned off as well). I also find it strange that for a mechanic which is essentially the detective vision from batman, it drains so incredibly quickly, and does not regenerate, should you have no way to recover your focus you’ll end up having only a flicker of ‘focus’ to activate, which in practice turns into a very obnoxious blink every time you want to check the environment – which turns out to be very important once they start introducing traps which do hilarious amounts of damage.

You'll be glad to know, this hidden switch to progress the main story is near impossible to find without the waypoint marker and focus.
You’ll be glad to know, this hidden switch to progress the main story is near impossible to find without the waypoint marker and focus.

Cleverly, the develoeprs put in a multitude of HUD options to toggle, so you can turn off hint glows, waypoints, health bars, just about everything. Great! Unfortunately, there are many things which will prevent you from really utilizing most of the things, the biggest problem I ran into in this regard was inconsistencies in movement, granted this may be solved by simply spending more time in the game, but when you give the player a dedicated ‘drop down’ key (and it’s literally called that in the keybinding menu) why then won’t ‘drop down’ always let me… y’know.. drop down? I was caught by some guards in chapter 1 because for some reason they decided to change drop down to right click. Similarly, I couldn’t figure out how to dismount ropes for the longest time because the game wouldn’t let me jump off or use the cancel button. I also ran into a crank clearly within arms reach, which couldn’t be activated – rather I had to shoot an arrow into it to release it, because that’s how turnable cranks function.

Good idea, bad implimentation
Good idea, bad implimentation

Sound is a mechanic which is easy to utilize well in a stealth game, however in thief it does all manner of bizarre things, loud chase music starting up while sneaking around springs immediately to mind, as well as a few other bizarre bits where I could hear people through walls and vice versa.
I also encountered a weird issue where I was hearing a guy get dominated by a woman through a wall for a few minutes (I am dead serious here)

Ridiculous stutter issues, particularly in outdoor environments – Granted my PC isnt the large pixel collider but it should surely be able to run this game at low-medium smoothly, yet ironically, turning the settings down somehow resulted in even more stutter. I’d be happier playing the game at a constant 30, but instead I get 60 frames followed  by 0 frames for a second or two.

Shipping-ThiefGame 2014-03-02 17-19-46-44

Verdict:

I tried hard to enjoy Thief, yet all I was rewarded with was anger and my brother standing behind me saying “this game is retarded”, for once I’m inclined to agree.
Don’t be fooled by the enjoyable initial 30 minutes of the game, Thief is one steaming pile of shit.

Approximate Game Length :  ??? DNF
Actual Worth / Steam Price:  £4 / £30 = 0.133
Should you play it : No, perhaps take a leaf from the game’s title if you really want to try it, dropping £30 into this will only upset you though.

Rating: 1/5

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