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Thief: The Dark Project (Windows)

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Written by  :  Bluddy (13)
Written on  :  Apr 13, 2000
Rating  :  4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars

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A stunning game for people who want thinking with their action.

The Good

The strongest thing this game has going for it is the atmosphere. Your universe in the game is a city combining industrial-era technology and magic that has not really been explored before by other game. Ruling the city is a religious cult called the Hammerites, which worships the symbols of industry. Narrative is presented using plain but terrific-looking cutscenes sandwiched between the 13 or so huge missions. The atmosphere in each mission is augmented by the best 3D sound I've ever heard (much better than Half-Life, for instance). You really feel that you step into the shoes of Garett, a cynical thief who was taught the art of invisibility in the dark by a mysterious group called the Keepers.

Each mission takes you a very long time to finish. This is because unlike most shooters, here the goal is not to be seen by the bad guys. Stay in the dark and keep quiet, then silently follow the guard and whack him on the crown of the head or shoot him with an arrow from a distance. Forget fancy rocket launchers and shotguns. The weapons here are a bow with multiple purpose arrows, a blackjack, and a sword for an emergency ie. when you're caught. The empahsis here is definitely on the thinking, not the fighting.

Another one of the great parts of this game is the creatures. The generic baddies are the guards and the Hammerites. The AI is phenomenal. They'll snoop you out when you make a sound or if they catch a glimpse of you in the dark. Some of the more exotic monsters are the scariest creatures in the history of computer games. The zombies freak you out like nobody's business, and the Haunts are ghostlike creatures that mutter the coolest things (Join ussss!). The AI will constantly surprise you with what it can do. Some people didn't like the undead missions, but I thought they were the best part of the game. My guess is those people didn't like getting scared, but if you do, you'll love the undead.

Since the missions are mostly non-linear, there are usually many ways to accomplish your objectives. These vary between the difficulty levels, meaning that there is replay potential to the game.

This game is a classic. You have to get it, if only to try it out.

The Bad

There is a lack of balance to some of the action. It's too easy to clear an area of bad guys, and since Thief has many non-linear levels where you backtrack you get to wander through some boring areas where everyone's already been wiped out. Undercover, for instance, is completely devoid of atmosphere if you blackjack all the Hammerites. Looking Glass corrected this flaw in System Shock II, where (Like SS1) the bad guys respawn, making every area constantly tense.

Also, the blackjack is too powerful. One hit in the back of the head will take out most enemies. This is why the zombies are great. They're immune to blackjacking (and hacking and shooting). It's worth noting that some players have the habit of not using either the blackjack or killing anyone (the latter is enforced in expert difficulty). This allows tension to be maintained throughout.

These are minor gripes, however.

The Bottom Line

This game surpasses almost every expectation you may have had about the 3D 1st person genre. You're a master thief using stealth and shadows to steal from rich lords and plunder ancient tombs. You get caught up in a fantastic plot to destroy the city as you know it and only you, the cynical thief, can save the day.