Thief: Gold

aka: Dark Project Gold: L'Ombra del Ladro, Dark Project: Der Meisterdieb - Directors Cut
Moby ID: 1404
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Description official descriptions

Thief Gold is a reissue of the game, Thief: The Dark Project, updated to version 1.37. Thief Gold includes three entirely new campaign missions which deepen the plot and provide new challenges, as well as five new types of enemies to overcome. Some of the original Thief levels have had minor modifications, including bug fixes, small design changes, and the new enemies.

Thief Gold also includes a bonus "Behind the scenes at Looking Glass Studios" footage and DromED, a level editor for Thief.

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Credits (Windows version)

82 People (77 developers, 5 thanks) · View all

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[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 92% (based on 10 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.3 out of 5 (based on 64 ratings with 6 reviews)

A revolution-in-a-box yet to be matched.

The Good
My favorite bit of Wolfenstein 3D wasn't gunning down hordes of people, nor running around like a lab rat on speed.

It was the suspense.

In finding my way around, the only warning signs I had were doors opening and closing - once I heard someone shouting, I knew I was busted. Since my sound card was mono and all the doors sounded alike, there wasn't much more I could do than count how many doors I had opened and count down when they closed.

Of course, I'd eventually lose count, or a door would catch me off guard, and I'd become more and more frantic, up to the point where I'd finally lose it and run around firing wildly at the furniture. Not to mention those zombie soldiers that didn't shout at all. Turned me into a nervous wreck.

Doom had it too, to some degree, although the feeling was more fighting an uphill battle than sneaking around. By the time Quake hit, the magic was gone for me, and I shied away from first-person shooters for some time.

...game? I'm supposed to be reviewing a game? Oh, yeah. That.

Thief put the suspense back where it belongs, quietly revolutionizing first-person 3D games. Naturally, everyone was too busy having LAN parties at the time to notice.

There were of course the external trappings, the ingenious industrial-mediaeval age with a modest sprinkling of magic, which got you gas/electricity-arc streetlights, magic crystal arrows which turn into water on impact, heavy-duty mining machinery operated by people in chain mail armor right alongside well houses, drawbridges and archers... Not to mention Garrett, the coolest videogame hero of the late nineties simply because he was the only one of them who dared to be established exclusively by his voice and a few elusive hand-drawn images when he wasn't under the player's control.

There was the sound, the lovely, luscious sound of footsteps on all sorts of materials as you strained your ears to the limit for clues on the opposition; this was the first game to do surround sound and environmental reverbs right. In fact, still one of the few games to really do anything at all with it. (The current trend towards releasing on six consoles and then maybe the PC isn't exactly helping things either, as most of the effort goes into making the soundtrack loud enough to be distinguishable coming out of the crummy stereo speakers on the TV set of Joe Average. Muttergrumble.)

And the difficulty levels, the absolute stunning genius of demanding that you kill fewer things as the difficulty goes up, and then actually making it not suck! The likes of this we may never see again.

The first level is an excellent introduction; there are way more guards than you can overcome, and you start off on the street, which will teach you not to draw your weapons until you need them. Going unnoticed is not simply beneficial, it's an absolute necessity. You quickly learn where it's at: Sneaking in the back, knocking people over the head, peering around corners, hiding unconscious guards...

(Interestingly, Thief delivers what was promised in an electronic Apogee advertisement for Wolf3D, the ability to drag bodies out of the way. Makes you wonder if it was ever in the design, or if it was just a misunderstanding.)

The way you have to concentrate on nuances of light and sound means that this game winds up seriously warping your reality - you may find yourself moving into shadows instinctively, or listening to the sound of your own footsteps like you never have before.

The third level is a strange detour, though; after training five years of Doom conditioning out of players they suddenly throw them into an entire level of killing things and running around subterranean mazes. It's like they were feeling insecure.

The Bad
For a game where shadows are extremely important, it's very bright, and doesn't play half as much with silhouettes and shading as I'd like. The reason for this is probably the Quake 1-style blocky edges on diagonal shadows, which would have ruined a lot of them. Not that there aren't areas that shine in this respect, but there could have been so many more.

To enforce stealth, you're always out of luck when spotted; this makes for rather a lot of saving and loading, and can possibly land you in unwinnable states, forcing you to go waay back in the level. Which can be painful, considering the slow pace of the game. Me, I didn't mind so much, but I grew up back in The Day(tm), when we didn't have them fancy things like F12 keys. Of course, I played with an onion taped to my monitor, as was the style at the time...

Oh yeah, and the way you purchase equipment before missions is a bit flawed; it would have been better to just dictate you a base pack of gear as a sort of "par for the course" and letting you top it off, or at least make a few recommendations. The way you sometimes have to half-complete a mission, then restart and buy gear from what you've learned is the only real flaw in this gem.

The Bottom Line
Going on six years and still worth playing. Still worth getting quadrophonic speakers for, in fact.

Windows · by Ola Sverre Bauge (237) · 2004

A masterfully paced, artistic achievement with a great underlying paradox

The Good
"Thief" is an extremely well put-together game, its production values range from high to impeccable across the board. The graphics are fine and fluid, the animation outstanding, music is scarce but extremely effective and has an interesting style (it's sort of an ambient-industrial blend) and sound design is simply perfect. Adding to that, "Thief" boasted quite an A.I. for its time, which can be considered to be quite effective, even today. The interface is complex and yet easy to control (with a small amount of learning applied), but most important, its initial premise of playing a thief, who is basically a weakling and won't be able to live through a second fight, is both original and fun. One has to sneak past guards, stay constantly in the shadows, pickpocket bloated, rich madmen and silently kill enemies (very frightening ones, too). Unless, of course, one chooses a higher difficulty setting which will most certainly go with the condition to not kill anybody. In my opinion, this a wonderful design element of the game, actually aimed at influencing the player to kill as few enemies as possible on any difficulty setting, for the whole tone even of the existence of such a feature suggests that killing will only be resorted to by "rookies", and that it's unnecessary for the "real" thief. Some game developers should have a look at such an idea and re-evaluate their own "the bloodier, the better"-routines, for here it is: a game where one may kill all sorts of people, yet is encouraged not to do so, not merely out of "heard-em-already" moral reasons, but because it is simply more of a challenge! And this is just one of "Thief"s many intelligent ideas and devices, and there are a lot more points which are in desperate need of flattering.

"Thief" is one of the few games I know that ties its different elements so closely together that the final game approaches complete homogeneity. It ceases to be merely a parallel display of graphics, music, content and control, on the contrary, all these elements are fused so well that one is bound to forget that this game was not created by a single artist. This becomes clear when one has a look at one of its extremely well designed levels, namely #5, "The Sword". It starts out as a regular thieving mission to some guy's mansion, however, the introductory cutscene mentions something about said guy being extremely extravagant or even...crazy. The level begins normal enough, one breaks into the house, raids a few rooms, then, suddenly, one is standing on a floor's ceiling, the walls have slowly become more and more tilted, colour palette has changed from subdued brownish to twisted LSD, and with these changes there are eerie sound effects coming up, a sinister, silent laugh, getting louder and louder as one approaches the central aim of the level, where all sorts of spooky, natural sounds, evoking the thought of a dark and threatening forest, will hit the player while the level's ending cutscene doesn't deliver any relief to this rising tension but makes it leap to yet another level. Sounds, graphics and even cut-scenes completely blend in with level design, just because "Thief" does not continuously try to impress the player with its technical prowess, but aims at mastering the art of dosage, of pacing, of build-up. If you want to have an effect of real, intense loudness, go ahead and start out silent, that's the philosophy behind "Thief". Music is only used sparingly at chosen moments, sound design will always come up with new, uncomfortable surprises, and the graphics really come to life due to the architecture employed during the different levels. Here, too, "Thief" succeeds in delivering the maximum effect because of its masterful change between immense structures vs. creepy tunnels, light-flooded mansions vs. dark prison cells and civilized casinos vs. zombie-infested graveyards.

This whole philosophy of merging elements and applying them at just the right time is also true for the whole world displayed in this game, and what a world it is. This has nothing to do with your average,"Lord-of-the-Ringy" fantasy stuff - and boy is it nice to have some change in that department going on once in a while. "Thief" employs a steampunk, "futuristic Victorian" look, combines it with medieval elements, adds a whole load of horror stuff and delves it in a simplified kind of a Miltonic, "split" world-view where you'd have:

reality vs. dreams, light vs. darkness, security vs. fear, order vs. chaos, stagnation vs. creativity, Satan/Pagans vs. God/Hammerites

As I said, it's all quite simplistic, but it's extremely focused and to the point, offering a highly original, yet familiar world where one feels immediately "at home" in spite of all the strange things going on. Moreover, the moral ambiguity with which both main fractions of the game (Pagans and Hammerites) are portrayed actually makes the main character's own shadowy, "neutral" (albeit self-serving) way not only the most appealing, but probably the better one, too, and all this is addressed not only in the game's background (by exploring, reading stuff, etc.), it's all part of the main story and one's own character's development as well. However, the best thing is the way the game's title ("The Dark Project") is implemented into the story, and the resulting paradox.

!!!WARNING!!! UPCOMING SPOILER:

How great is it to create a game where the player is absolutely dependant on darkness and not-being-seen, yet has to look for something called "The Eye" and prevent the world from a total black-out?



The Bad
This is one of the very few games where I could not find a real flaw. Moreover, I find many of the flaws found by other players quite wonderful. I thought the zombies were plain horrifically well done, and I did not find that "Thief" was lacking a freely explorable city, on the contrary, I found that the division into different levels actually helped the game's sense of drama.

One could criticize the ever-oppressing nature of "Thief" though, and the sheer intensity of all the sneaking going on. It can be quite an exhausting game because it never offers any "relief" - however, I like that, too.

The Bottom Line
The perfect blend between all its different elements, their ingenious, individual executions and an overall great sense of pacing and dosage make "Thief" stand out as a masterfully created, frightful experience destined to distract the player from reality for quite some time (it's a rather long game, after all). And when one re-enters that reality, one may well think about the amount of hypocrisy and of stubborn, religious fundamentalism to be found there, too, or about our desperate need to shut out as many reminders of our own mortality as possible - for that is, after all, one of the reasons we put lights everywhere, isn't it?

A final note on this version of the game: The "Gold" edition of "Thief" features three more, superbly designed levels which are well integrated into the games plot, making the its division into introduction-main part-endgame more balanced. In my opinion it's the best version of "Thief".

Windows · by worldwideweird (29) · 2007

Eternal masterpiece #3

The Good
- Very advanced stealth system for it's time (and 20 years after), surprisingly developed sword fighting. - Variety of environments; from grounded and mundane to wacky and surreal or downright horror. - Missions vary heavily both in gameplay and the atmosphere, some give you multiple options on how to play through them. - Great difficulty system. - Unique setting and lore, voice acting is stellar, story is intriguing. - Stylish cutscenes and art direction. - Sound design is iconic.

The Bad
- Sometimes a level can make you mad not in a good way, due to it's gargantuan size and confusing layout. - Some missions are heavily focused on fighting different creatures. These can be a walk in the park or pure hell, depends on your ability to utilize game fighting mechanic and some engine quirks. Overall, these levels can still be completed in a stealthy way, but you'll have to be a very patient person. - Some levels can be a real chore to get through, in most cases due to the backtracking and pacing issues. - Not very responsive controls at times, occasional engine bugs.

The Bottom Line
Despite everything, this deserves the praise it's got over the years.

Windows · by SanfordMorgan · 2023

[ View all 6 player reviews ]

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Game added by Kate Jones.

Additional contributors: Xoleras, Danfer.

Game added May 4, 2000. Last modified January 18, 2024.