Zero Punctuation: Thief: The Dark Project

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I will be interesting to see if this review causes a sales spike for the Thief games. Also, the studio developing Deus Ex 3 hinted they were also making Thief 4.

I find it very odd how at least the first two people who post on these Zero Punctuation forum topics always manage to get suspended.

But anyhow, if I was a bigger jerk and a little dumber, I'd probably say something like "OMG, WORLD TRADE CENTER JOKE, MUST GO COMPLAIN NOW" but luckily I was brought up to have a sense of humor. Still, Yahtzee may want to at least try to be careful with his... oh, who the fuck am I kidding, eh? Yahtzee being sensitive would be like a soldier on the battlefield using his gun to fire friendship instead of bullets.

Anyhow, this is a game I've always wanted to check out. I do hope that Yahtzee gets to do more of these kind of reviews. Personally I'm still curious of his measurements of a good adventure game. He did mention Grim Fandango and Monkey Island, but my favorite has always been Sam and Max. Possibly because of all the highbrow humor.

stoosh95:
FYI ... thief 1 and 2 are two of my favorite games of all time ... the difficulty settings never actually changed the game (eg ... most games increase the damage or increase the HP of enemies) in thief the difference between easy and hard was usually "don't kill anyone" or "find at least X gold" .

Expert usually added "Remain undetected".

Normal was usually "get your main item" with a few directions on how to do so, and occasionally a "get out of the level." Hard added "get out of the level", a miscellaneous loot requirement, possibly a side valuable to pick up, and occasionally a killing or knockout limitation. Expert invariably had everything from Hard, adding "don't kill ANYONE" and a higher loot requirement. Oh, and there were more patrols in Hard and Expert.

Thief 1 was excellent, though the later levels where there were nothing but burricks, ratmen, and the undead got really annoying. Thief 2 was excellent, though I've only played the first maybe 4 levels...definitely back-to-basics with more stealing and human opponents...hell, the second level's premise is that your rent is due and you need to resort to petty theft from dock warehouses.

Haha, awesome review! I loved Thief back in the day, great game.

And I loved the little quote about "Gorn to the bear pits" in the credits, that was hilarious to listen to in the game.

Great job Yahtzee, this probably has to be my new favorite ZP!

Hey, long time lurker, first time poster.

This review had perfect timing, as I actually just finished Thief 1 for the first time a few weeks ago. I got Theif: Deadly Shadows back in 2004 for the Xbox (as my PC was utter crap back then), and loved it. But try as I did, I could never find the first two games. Then, I finally found a copy of both games on Amazon.com, and after some trouble getting it to work on my XP computer (if you're having trouble, and you have a multicore PC, try going to task manager and setting THIEF.exe's affinity to only one CPU), I finally played it.

Aside from the monster levels Yahtzee mentioned, (Ugh, Bonehoard...) and some control issues (Quicksave = f11 and quickload = f12?) I thought it was brilliant. It was scary, atmoshperic, and had a great story. And of course, it had the intense gameplay I loved from Thief 3. I thought it was neat how Return to the Cathedral had parallels to the Cradle in T3 (i.e. ghost wants you do to series of tasks to 'free' it). And I just started Thief 2, and from what I've played so far (I just finished the Framed mission) it's even better than the first. If you haven't had a chance to play this series yet, you owe it to yourself. The third one is on Steam and the first two can probably be found online with some searching.

love this game, now do descent: freespace 2.

xTitanium Wolfx:
I like this episode but I was expecting that you where going to review Skate 2

That'd make for a pretty boring review.

"There's another skateboarding game out". "It's.... Well, do you like skating? Yes? Then it's fun. Don't care about skating? Then it's pretty boring".

The end.

It's quite a good game, but I gotta admit that Yahtzee, that charismatic stallion, is completely correct; it's a niche genre.

How so?

I have the second game, and I didn't make it past the second level before I decided to uninstall it and play something that appeals a bit more to my tastes. I might dig it out of the closet, now that I've been reminded of it.

And I really hope that Yahtzee didn't just insult No One Lives Forever. That game is love.

Great review! I can remember parts of the game exactly how you described it with the guards inches away from your face looking around for you, feeling sheer terror (at least for me) that Garret would fart or something to give himself away. The part about the first thief I didn't like though was if guards were alerted to your presence you couldn't just shoot them in the head with an arrow and kill them. At least in my version that is what happened, the buggers took like 10-15 of them to die. Thief 2 was a lot of fun too, but I didn't get to play that one very often because the copy I played was my bro's and he took it away when I was halfway through it and the Third one I bought thinking it would be the best game ever... and well I returned it a few days later.

Midnight Voyager:

But there is PLENTY of community support. The community helped me with every problem I had

True, but it would be a lot less hassle if Nvidia made a bit more of an effort to support the engine.

Meh.

I'm back! Ok in the transcript there are a couple of places where I put asterisks * * around the words or phrases that confused me or couldn't understand. Also I'm American so I did my best with all the different words Yahtzee used for head, so forgives me if my spelling is bad.

Thief: The Dark Project

Once again it's time to retrospectively review an old game I've actually liked. Breaking up the emotionally draining output of cold emotionless hatred and giving further fuel for the construction of my psychological profile some years from now after the murders begin.

Today we're going back to the primitive days of 1998. Back when the world trade center was still defiantly sticking two fragile fingers up at the looming threat of global insurgency. Bill Clinton was wholeheartedly regretting Monica Lewinski's choice of dry cleaner and of course PC gaming still mattered.

(Shouting SFX)

As it does to this day.

(Baby Giggle SFX)

A company called Looking Glass Studios, tired of making flight simulators that nobody bought, released Thief: The Dark Project. What with PC gaming still mattering and the brown glory of Quake having been pooed out two years previously, the FPS was riding high. But it was fast becoming clear that many developers had reached the limits of what could be achieved with putting the player on one side of a big, black, death cock and a succession of eager spread-eagled monsters on the other.

It would be some time before Halo would come along and revolutionize the genre with limited weapon capacity, regenerating health and being generally shit. So it was left to Thief to have strange and deviant thoughts like: What if there was a first person game where you were trying to achieve something other than genocide? Where even one or two measly deaths would have the game slap your hands away from the controls and yell, "What the fuck?!" And thus was born the *stealthamub*.

The philosophy of the Thief games was that barging into the enemy strong hold and repainting the lobby in spinal fluid was all very well. But a really skilled infiltrator should never have to kill. And ideally the enemy shouldn't even know they've been there, except that all the lights have stopped working and the whole place seems a lot less wealthy somehow.

The games have three great strengths that place them above all subsequent attempts at stealth game play: being constantly aware of exactly how visible you were, sprawling non linear maps that rewarded diligent exploration, and the fact that you could actually defend yourself if necessary. Unaware guards could be taken out with a cosh. But even if you buggered up the stealthing so hard your dick came out its nose, there was rarely an instant game over for it. Worst case scenario was you'd wind up having to fight off a train of 16 sword-wielding-thugs yelling made up swear words. But if you were skilled enough to get through that, it would still be always quite possible to steal all the lord's ermine robes and stick his toothbrush up your bum before you leave.

People have said to me, "Yahtzee! You ordinary person. How can a stealth game be possibly fun when the game play discourages actively dealing with the hazards in favor of hiding under tables waiting for them to go away? Bleh, I say, Bleh!"

Well this may reflect poorly on me as a person, but *I've had a lot of fun* to be voyeuristic in nature. Don't tell me you've never had fantasies of invisibility? Usually while simultaneously contemplating the nearest convenient changing room of the opposite sex. Not that a reasonable person can profitably ogle the guards in *some word I can't understand* Thief. This was still the early days of full 3D, so they all looked and moved like badly made origami polio victims.

But there was nothing more impishly entertaining than hiding in a shadow listening to a pair of thicko guards discuss nose picking strategies. Then when they heard your stifled giggling, there was nothing more tense then standing stock still, with breath caught, as the fore said thickos peered searchingly into the shadows. So close you could practically see the polygonal nostril hairs quivering, as you pray to a god you've never believed in that they'll turn around and facilitate a nice swift boff across the bonce.

Stealing riches in gameplay was fun, but it was the richness of the writing that kept me coming back, masterfully executed link.

The developers understood that it takes a certain kind of person to enjoy this sort of thing and tailored the main character accordingly. Garrett, a misanthropic anti-social loner. Making snarky comments to liven up the dark silent corners he hung around in. An *approvingly unheroic character* of the situation, the NPC's he pitted his wits against were generally bored inattentive rent a cops loudly voicing their every slightest day dream, quick to dismiss suspicious noises and sights as the work of imagination or extremely large and resourceful rats. This may explain why Garrett has such contempt for them that he goes around wearing tap shoes that make loud noises when stepping on anything harder than a bathroom rug.

All these beautifully voiced and characterized tosspots live in a pseudo medieval fantasy city where natural magic and steam punk technology are constantly at war. A war that Garrett keeps getting pulled into despite being constantly determined to not give a shit. It seems that even the developers themselves didn't quite believe that people would like stealth game play. So the first Thief forced itself to include a lot of zombie and monster killing, neither of which responded encouragingly to bops across the bonce.

But Looking Glass proved themselves to be diametrically opposed to say, Sonic Team and actually listened to the fans. The 2000 sequel, creatively named Thief II, was the peak of the series. Where the sneaking was the *sneaksiest* and the sprawly levels were the sprawliest. The third game, Thief: Deadly Shadows in 2004, was sadly over the peak and speeding down hill fast. In its haste to suckle at the teat of current generation graphics it dropped the sprawling nonlinear levels down a flight of stairs and suffered for it. But by then Looking Glass Studios had already closed its doors. Another drowned surfer in the treacherous ever changing tide of the game's industry. Sadly caught in the great big Eidos whirlpool formed by, amongst other things, the sinking of the SS John Romero. A fate undeserved you might say. But since the popularity of Thief led to the misguided trend for forced stealth sections in action games, I think we can call this one karmatically even.

Ah, now that was pretty good, higher quality than usual, with a plethora of unexpected sight-gags that were genuinely lol-worthy. e.g. Mecha-Gandolf!

So: Thief. Yahtzee makes a good point in that it was indeed an interesting game in that it took the tired old FPS genre in an entirely new direction. Maybe more games should stop worrying about minor quibbles like vehicles and sprawling worlds and instead investigate ways to change the central activity to things other than gun people down in fascinating ways. If there's a dividing line between clone and innovation, the central activity is a likely contender.

Granted, Mirrors Edge could be said to have tried to do that, and Yahtzee wasn't impressed.

Nice to see him do an old classic. And on my birthday no less. Yay me!

You just reviewed my favorite game damn you! Oh wait ... you liked it. Cool, I guess we're cool then. My favorite "quote" from this game, that I use to distraction, is the sound guards make when you whack 'em good and they go "ouch, OUCH! Ha ha HA!" and then freak out and run.

oJon:
I have this game, but unfortuntly it always freezes when i come to the first guard. I blame vista.

Its not vista fault entirely, just part of it. Your problem is that the dark engine can't handle more then one processor at a time. Make Thief run in single core and it won't freeze anymore. Also, as one know this game is from 98, its not a huge deal, but you may want to look into the HD patches that will scale it to fin most modern day monitors.

Also, I haven't read all the posts in this thread, but if anyone, even /yahtzee if he reads these things hasn't played Thief 2X shadows of the metal ages they really should. Its fan made yes, but runs off the dark engine and the Thief 2 disc. Some levels are even better then the ones in Thief 2 itself.

hahaha that was great. I did like the series even when i stopped half way through due to annoyance.

squall24:

oJon:
I have this game, but unfortuntly it always freezes when i come to the first guard. I blame vista.

Also, I haven't read all the posts in this thread, but if anyone, even /yahtzee if he reads these things hasn't played Thief 2X shadows of the metal ages they really should. Its fan made yes, but runs off the dark engine and the Thief 2 disc. Some levels are even better then the ones in Thief 2 itself.

T2X is Great, almost better than Thief 2.

I still think Splinter Cell (Chaos Theory) did stealth better. But then again, in one you're a secret agent trying to save the world. The other....well, you're a thief.

For kicks, since it's sort of topical again, here's my Escapist article looking at the writing of THIEF and SPLINTER CELL: CHAOS THEORY from back when:
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_37/226-Magic-Words

THIEF was a profound game.

Seems like an intresting option for those bored of fps's from the halo fad...

I loved the expectation/disappointment you pulled on us with "Yahtzee! You... completely ordinary person." Brilliance.

You just made me realize that pc-gaming hardly matter anymore and in spirit of that I feel a personal need to remind you of a not-so little gem called RESISTANCE 2!!

Review it already!

It's becoming a bit embarassing because like thief (and the sequel), it's an awesome fucking game! :D

Evilbunny:
Oh man, I didn't see this coming! I love thief, it's one of my favorite games to this date.

That. Haven't played the earlier ones but managed to find Deadly Shadows and loved it. Hope the rumors about another come true.

I'm not trying to start anything, but i think its funny how in his Halo 3 review he said he never played the first two, but he constantly pokes fun at the first one.

I picked up both Theif 1 + 2 up on a whim for a mindbogglingly low 1. Not each. For both. Best 1 I ever spent on a game. In fact, I'm gonna have to install them on my new laptop now.

I'm going to have to check out thief but one question. When was Hitman a "stealth" game?

I don't get it, how does a gaming platform/system ever "not matter"?

Thief was awesome. Now I want to see more older games reviewed. I say 'older' because I'm not of this current fucked up generation that calls anything made before 2000 'old' and 'shitty.'

Sylocat:
01:53: I wish they'd make a game where characters swear in Chinese (hint, hint).

I see you like Firefly as well. Not sure that you could make a game out of it though.

Cue halo related hate mail.

Great review. I knew that he liked the thief series as hes quoted it before and now I have the urge to find out what these games are like.
Can't wait till next weeks.

I applaud Yahzee for this review. I never expected I'd hear him rant about it and it warms my heart to hear that he actually enjoyed it :D

I think I played Thief when I was a kid, but I didn't have the patience for it. Hell, I don't even think I understood stealthing.

Still, I should look it up. Great review yahtzee.

oJon:
I have this game, but unfortuntly it always freezes when i come to the first guard. I blame vista.

You should!

It's nice to see that old Ben is still able to reinvent himself, and not just recycling his old rants *cough* Far Cry review *cough*

I love the Thief games franchise so much I could marry it...(I proposed to it, but is still waiting for an answer)

EDIT: Dang spelling is broken again..

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