Thief: Deadly Shadows - game review

Date: 2004-07-30 13:15:00
The review was based on the PC version.

The "Thief" series is one of the most iconic for many avid gamers. Its success is mainly due to the revolutionary rules of the game: stay in the shadows and don't get caught. The first part, known as "Thief: The Dark Project", saw the light of day in 1998, gaining great popularity. Released less than two years later, the second part entitled "The Metal Age" achieved similar success and to this day tens of thousands of fans of this game focus on discussion forums and websites related to it. New maps are still being created, the game itself and its graphic appearance are modified. Unfortunately, after the release of the aforementioned two parts, their authors - Looking Glass Studios - went to the land of fallen development groups. However, another studio - Ion Storm - showed interest in the title "Thief". After their last project ("Deus Ex: Invisible War") I had no illusions about the fate of "Thief: Deadly Shadows". However, my fears were dispelled by the first moments spent with the game. In short - Garrett is back in favor!

Players who are not familiar with the previous parts may have some problems with understanding the rules in the game. This is not another simple shooter, in which by attaching a device resembling the "auto-fire" system from ancient joysticks to the keyboard, we go through subsequent, sometimes more difficult missions. This is a game for people with steel nerves and a huge dose of stoic calm.

Becoming familiar with the rules - remain unnoticed and inaudible - is difficult for novice thieves to master. "Thief" is such a raisin in the great cake of FPP games. If you have ever tried it and know what it tastes like, you will always reach for it while eating. But if you are afraid to take the risk or you are put off by the consequences of pulling it out and consuming it, you will miss out on a lot of fun. There are few games with such a dose of playability, so addictive and with such a dark atmosphere of a big, bustling city.

But if you are familiar with this title, you will certainly realize that by buying the latest part you will take several dozen hours from your CV, you will sleep for work (students can delete this option) or you will hear comments from other household members complaining about too long spent with "Poodles". Such a life.

Garret, as (almost) every player knows, is a thief. But not just any, because he is a thief fighting for a good cause. Your case.

He will help friends deal with their problems from time to time, if necessary. Especially if this help could save the city from the Age of Darkness, a prophecy about to come true. Nobody really knows what this Age of Darkness means and the dangers it brings. The keepers, the most influential people in the city, have no idea what's going on themselves. And if the wisest and best organized scholars of the ancient records are unable to deal with a problem, it is usually Garrett who is asking for help. It will be no different this time.

The presented story is very interesting. Despite the somewhat spoiling the mood of the introduction, which is designed to help beginners understand the mechanics of the game, it still only gets better and more interesting. As soon as you complete and steal some valuable items from a certain Lord's castle, you will be thrown straight into the street of the medieval metropolis. A novelty announced for a long time - free movement around the city, finally saw the light of day. And without dwelling on the validity of this idea for a long time, it must be clearly stated that it was a bull's eye.

In a city full of valuables of all kinds, they rule, or rather try to seize, governments, two main congregations. Pagans, in their faith, adhere to the theory of return to the roots and use ancient spells to use all kinds of vegetation, which our hero learned all too well. The Hammerites are the complete opposite of them. They are very disciplined and believe in their god the Builder, who, as they say, "gave them a great hammer, a tool to work and knock down their opponents." Even so, both races use both melee weapons and ranged spells to combat Garrett's unrestrained drive to seek out anything of value. Fortunately, both groups can be tamed in a way, so that their members will not attack the guilty god Garrett.

The third and most respected group, different from the previous two, are Keepers. These researchers, keeping relatively aloof from combat and preferring the "mountain will come to Muhammad" option, do not take risky actions and that is why they prefer to hire an outsider to do the black work. Every day they keep order in their great library, reading countless amounts of wise books, which, as they say, allow them to get to know the world better and understand the changes taking place in it.

In the city, the player will come across guards who keep order and obey the rules. These, unfortunately, are always not very accommodating, so you will have to avoid contact with them at all costs.

Each of the groupings has its headquarters or structures in the city. Of course, you will visit all of them, stripping items worth a few gold coins on the way. The city itself is divided into districts, which include: houses, docks, a market and an area for wealthy residents. Adding to this a system of underground tunnels and 10 extensive missions, we already have a vision of a great world that will take hours to explore.

Moving through the next parts of the metropolis is carried out thanks to special passages with a characteristic blue fog. When you enter it, you can decide whether you want to go to the appropriate district or stay in the same district. This solution is imposed from a technological point of view - a very powerful computer would be needed to create a map of the size of the entire city. Although at first glance, this approach does not bode well, it is very useful and does its job, relieving our already busy machines.

Fortunately, even after switching to the engine from the gentlemen from Epic (those from Unreal Tournament), the gameplay itself did not suffer. The authors did so well that after cosmetic corrections introduced by special programs (more about them), you can feel like in the good old days again.

The tasks given to the player only slightly differ from the usual pattern: steal an item by performing a number of activities along the way that will allow you to successfully complete the order. Of course, occasionally you can take the valuables you find along the way, then sell them in the city and buy the necessary equipment with the money earned in this way.

So again it will be possible to use water arrows to extinguish torches, illuminate patrolled routes by guards, or ordinary arrows to kill them. Shots with moss, apart from the standard action of silencing the floor on which we walk, can immobilize them for a moment when they are choked with their ingredients. There is also a fire arrow that explodes on contact with the target and deals a lot of damage. Unfortunately, the arrow with the rope was abandoned and a new item was proposed - the original gloves.

Gloves are part of Garret's special equipment. After buying them in the appropriate store, you will be able to climb walls made of bricks (smaller or larger). This way, you can get to the roofs of houses or other hard-to-reach places.

Skills also include the ability to use a lockpick, which means that virtually every door will be open in front of you, without the need to have the appropriate key. Later, you will be able to take advantage of many attractions, such as opening special passages created by Keepers and completing tasks to please Pagans or Hammerites.

The difficulty level no longer restricts the player's movement as it did in the previous parts. As a reminder, selecting the Expert level required stunning each encountered individual. It excluded all weapons from use. Now there is no such restriction, but civilians cannot be killed in the same case. The basic version of the game (1.0) had problems with maintaining the difficulty level after loading a previously saved game. If you previously played Expert and loaded a state in that version, the difficulty level was set to Easy. Fortunately, this bothersome bug was fixed in patch 1.1.

When wandering around the city, you will usually be preparing to enter individual missions. Their passage will move the story forward and allow the exploration of newer and newer areas of the city. The game is divided into 9 days, which are a continuous period in the life of the main character. The day changes after completing missions, and you can usually complete them in the order you choose. The limited non-linearity of the plot gives the player a feeling of complete freedom. Adding to this huge city and people wandering around it, we get a game close to perfection.

The missions are very diverse and at the same time extensive. A single one usually consists of two maps, and the transition from one to the other is the same as traveling around the city.

Before starting the tasks, you should have the necessary equipment. This can be done in a city where some items reappear every day. You can also buy necessary goods in stores. Unfortunately, the stores have a different assortment, depending on the district, and in order to buy a few water and gas arrows, you will have to go to the other end of the city.

During the next missions, you can use your skills and items. Therefore, for example, it is worth buying special gloves as early as possible, which will allow you to collect valuable items that are normally unavailable.

Graphically, "Thief: Deadly Shadows" looks great. Despite creating the game also for the X-Box platform, and therefore the use of low-resolution textures, the game looks great. Mainly due to the use of the UT engine, which continuously generates lighting and shadows, using the possibilities offered by the latest graphics accelerators. Using the latest technology, the game gains shine and emanates a specific atmosphere. Flames illuminating objects and the dynamically moving light emitted by them can be mentioned. You can't see it in pictures, you have to see it live! Unfortunately, this requires relatively powerful equipment. For best results, play with new graphics cards. I myself tested the product on a Radeon 9800 PRO, AMD 3200+ with 1GB of RAM and playing at a resolution greater than 1024x768 was not possible. With the maximum details in this resolution, the number of frames per second was satisfactory and oscillated around 20-25.

I don't know of any other game where sound plays such an important role. In "Thief" you have to watch out for the sounds you make. For example, treading on metal floors will be more audible than walking on a rug, causing the guards to snoop around for a sound. Thanks to the latest sound card, with EAX surround sound support, you will be able to determine the location of the approaching guard, and even his distance from you! The best results are achieved by using speakers in at least 5.1 systems and the Audity 2 sound card. On the ZS model and the T7700 (7.1) speakers, the effect was electrifying - hearing various sounds of a city visited at night, I felt like one of its inhabitants.

I will write more about the news in the game in the guides. There are so many of them that it would be enough for another review. While playing "Thief: Deadly Shadows" I came across opinions of many people and their opinions were different. Some of the game was average, and there were also a few people who stopped playing after the training mission. However, my verdict is clear.

The latest product of the people of Ion Strom met my expectations. I rarely say this, but I am very impressed with the game and want more after I finish it! I was surprised by the visual part as well as the gameplay itself. It resembled the good old "Thief", but by introducing a whole series of improvements and novelties, it drew me even more. The new products, unfortunately, are not always the best of their kind, but still good enough for the game as a whole to be in a class by itself. And it is definitely worth a lot of money (the price of the game is not low!). But by buying it, we have a guarantee that they will pay off with many hours of unforgettable impressions from the life of a thief who lives in a large metropolis full of dangers. The one and only. No other game will give you this, Dear Reader.

Piotr "Zodiac" Szczerbowski