How do you play retro games?

Thief II: The Metal Age (Windows)

Published by
Developed by
Released
Platform
Mature
ESRB Rating
Genre
Perspective
Theme
88
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.1
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Zovni (9360)
Written on  :  Aug 11, 2001
Rating  :  4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars

9 out of 11 people found this review helpful

write a review of this game
read more reviews by Zovni
read more reviews for this game

Summary

An inspired masterpiece that surpasses the original. An a most excellent farewell gift from LG

The Good

I could go on and on about the revolutionary gameplay aspects and technical achievements the Thief series is known for, instead I would prefer to point out the improvements this game makes over its predecessor. Thief 1 is and excellent game, and Thief 2 only goes up from there.

There are better graphics, better sounds, new cool options like listening through doors, the excellent "artsy" cutscenes are back and at a bigger resolution, etc. etc. etc. However there's something that for me really puts this one in the classics category, and it's got more to do with the creative side of things. Regardless of the gameplay/ technical improvements few sequels can claim to REALLY flesh out and surpass the original universe in which they are setted, yet Thief 2 does just that.

While the original cutted down on the excellent dark "steampunk" atmosphere by delivering some dungeon crawling and swashbuckling action in an effort to don't appear too "odd" to the masses its sequel pulls no punches. Gone are the endless nights spent fighting legions of monsters and undead creatures in caverns, tombs or whatever (now they can still be found around but they are merely to add color to the game). Now the emphasis is REALLY placed on being a Thief. Practically the entire game takes place on urban locations, and what was merely an interesting backdrop on the original becomes a major element in its sequel. You'll crawl through streets and rooftops, castles and mansions instead of the tombs and forgotten cities of the first one. The result, at least for me, was that it really made me want to get into the game, to the point that I made every mission (well almost, more on that later) on the expert difficulty mode, a feat I only did every now and then on the original and that encourages you to find and explore every nook and crany in the levels (which are many many times more complex than in the original).

The storyline comes alive in a way the original never did and the allegoric aspect of the game gets the recognition it deserves....What am I talking about here? I'm talking about the strong message the game gives regarding fanatical religious beliefs (c'mon, like no one got the sledge hammer/christian cross thing). Garret is more than a thief, Garret is a completely unatached and neutral member of a world very much like ours, and though his actions can be moraly questionable, they are the vehicles from which we bear witness to a world blinded by its own faith. You see poor wretched souls lamenting over a fate brought only by their own submission; you see greedy powermongers use the desperate need to of the poor to believe in something, anything, to their advantage; you see innocent people slaughtered over nothing more than beliefs; you see soldiers marching on proudly, carrying out orders regardless of their reason or consequences, merely content on servicing their faiths; etc, etc, etc.

Don't get me wrong, Thief 2 doesn't question the validity of faith or beliefs, but it certainly shows it's consequences when they take a turn for the fanatical. Call it an atheist interpretation of the game, but it's what I think.

Now what other game you know makes you think about those things? ;)

The Bad

Minor gripes really. First of all the remote camera is useless, the view area is too small (I guess it was made with big monitors and 1024x resolutions in mind), it's got no zoom, and you can never perfectly control the way you place it. Also there's the issue of the AI, it looks so good because the game puts a big emphasis on sound detection and all that, but they have their holes. They walk by open doors like nothing's there and if they detect you, just hide yourself for a couple of minutes and then they resume their actions as if nothing happened!

Second and more important, the final mission and for that matter the entire climax of the game seems all off to me. Having spent the entire game on interesting locations, sneaking and thieving around (I did not kill a single person in this game) it was a real letdown to do a mission on a dull gray castle with nothing but robotic enemies. I know in the end the game had to find a way to "kill gonzo the bad guy" but I think it could have been handled better than that. Plus the ending sequence works very well if you consider there's supposed to be a Thief 3, but it shouldn't have left things on such an open note imho, not even The Empire Strikes Back was so unrewarding in the end.

The Bottom Line

In essence, despite some minor gripes, you simply have to have this game. There really is nothing quite like it and it's much better than the original, which is already a revolutionary masterpiece. It's the complete antithesis of Quake and Unreal, and if you like some thinking and atmosphere with your gaming then this is your holy grail.