Thief 3

Thief 3 is rather divided on opinion, some people love it as a natural evolution of the original two games and some well….don’t. I gave away my original copy many years ago but thanks to the wonder of PC gaming, I picked up another one. So since I’ve recently replayed the first two….time to see how my opinion on the third installment has matured.

Thief 3 uses a new engine, there were a few years between this games release and Thief 2 and the more advanced engine goes a long way to creating a prettier world. It’s still an old game mind, so prettier in comparison to the previous games rather than more modern titles. The shadows seem richer and the lighting is more vibrant, the character models suffer far less from a lack of polygons and still benefit from fantastic voice acting.

The new lock picking minigame is actually an improvement from the original and keeps you more engaged in the process, adding to the tension as you lose sight of your surroundings while fiddling with the tumblers. The NPC guards still come in various flavors of stupid, somehow that doesn’t seem to matter….it just feels like you really are a smart thief in an otherwise simple society. It almost made me feel sorry for all the guys I kept knocking out….I had too much sympathy for the ignorant and the stupid to actually kill them.

The plot is once again convoluted unyet progresses well with the gameplay, I found myself reading all the little background scrolls, notes and tomes around the world despite me already having a vague memory of the story line. It just seemed to add to the flavor and never felt like a chore to do. The side quests you can do for increased cash or items again compliment the gameplay well, always optional unyet somehow you are drawn to them without ever trying to seek them out.

The City hub is broken up into several zones, unfortunately a sign of a time when worlds with this much had  to be divided to save ye olde PC load times. I believe this is perhaps a slight negative on the gameplay, having to zone between small sections of the city does make it feel slightly less of a world. However the detail of houses, shops, taverns and guilds along with their npc guards and loot is worth the visit even if you don’t need to go that way for the objective.

Sadly the much loved rope arrow was left out in favor of climbing gloves, which are rarely of any real value and less fun to use because of the limited scope they have. The rest of the tools Garret is accustomed to make a return and all work well for their purpose. There is a faction system if you want to play nice with the Hammers or Pagans but it’s pretty easy to be on good terms with both and somehow this feels a little cheap, because if they are both friendly certain areas of the city are much easier to get around. It is nice they verbally acknowledge your allied status though…and sometimes even come to your aid albeit indirectly.

The various shops around the city supply you with all replacement or upgraded equipment you could need and you also get a fairly generous amount of equipment just laying about the levels. Speaking of levels they are all pretty good, but one is a cut above. Shalebridge Cradle… once a Sanitarium, AND an orphanage, now a haunted derelict building nobody dare enter, this level is epic. The Ghost/Plague ship is also very atmospheric, although sadly quite short due to the confines of the vessel.

The audio work is still of high quality, perhaps the footstep echos and their impact on the sneaking is not quite as good as the original two games. The voice work from the Pagans and Hammerites along with the Keepers are top notch and create wonderful moments which immerse you in Garrets world of strange Gothic Steam Punk/Mysticism. Unfortunately my main gripe is the final mission ending…which is rather abrupt as it cuts from gameplay to video cut scene. Sadly as the ending to the entire game I feel this is damaging to the overall experience and feels slightly unrewarding, leaving a lasting impression as the final sudden moment you stop playing.

Thief 3 is a great continuation of the original Thief games, respectful in most areas although with a few minor flaws that can niggle to hardcore fans of the original. This is probably the best of the three games for a new player to get into, with more traditional controls and being easier on the eye. Definitely worth playing for all stealth game fans.