Thief hands-on: Garrett’s fate still hangs in the balance

Thief

By on October 9, 2013 at 11:30 pm

Video game reboots are a common occurrence and a very mixed bag. Some work brilliantly, others not so much — and after two hours spent skulking around Thief’s dark corners it seems like this one really could go either way.

On the plus side, stealth plays a significant role in Eidos Montreal’s 2014 reboot and feels like a fundamental part of Thief’s identity rather than an optional extra. Unlike the otherwise excellent Dishonored, in which stealth and pacifism are options that Arkane struggles to fully accommodate, Thief looks to have been built upon these core tenets. To this end, it will be possible not only to complete a non-violent play-through but to do so without alerting anyone to Garrett’s presence.

During the two hours I recently spent with Thief the art of misdirection was achieved by a variety of means, many predicated on classic Thief principles. Stub-nosed noisemaker arrows can be used to distract a guard before slipping past him, while water arrows extinguish light sources from a distance and plunge an enclosed space into blessed black. It’s during these moments that Thief feels most like its old self as Garrett infiltrates buildings under the nose of unwitting city guards.

What has changed, though, is the manner in which those guards will become aware of Garrett.

As is now a common and, frankly, tired way of depicting NPC awareness the guards have meters above their heads that start to fill if they catch sight of Garrett. Once the meter is filled, a guard will begin to investigate and if Garrett is unable to find a suitably dark corner or cupboard to hide in they’ll go into full alert mode and raise the alarm.

Currently, though, the guards have a questionable degree of perception, which resulted in one walking right by me bearing a torch but remaining oblivious to my presence.

“What you’re describing sounds like a bug,” offered Eidos Montreal producer Joe Khoury, when I questioned him about it later.

“The biggest two things that we want to push for in the remaining months is bug fixing and polishing AI. It’s a very fine balance between being too aggressive and allowing a certain amount of forgiveness and that’s going to come with play-tests and polishing in the remaining months.”

spamming the attack button was all it took to bring up the option for a cinematic finisher on more than one occasion

Sure, we’re still several months from the game’s launch of February 28, so there’s plenty of time for creases such as this to be ironed out. However, in a game in which you’re likely to spend a lot of time observing and then reacting to the AI, this tweaking and polishing will need to be pitch-perfect to avoid other such immersion breaking moments.

There’s also the matter of Garrett’s new found aptitude for hand-to-hand combat. While engaging several guards will quickly result in being overwhelmed, Garrett is now more than capable of easily dispatching a single adversary. In fact, spamming the attack button was all it took to bring up the option for a cinematic finisher on more than one occasion.

In deliberately attempting to curate an experience that appeals to a wider audience Eidos Montreal must tread carefully. The impressive Deus Ex: Human Revolution proves that the studio clearly has the ability to meld varied play-styles but there’s still plenty of polish to be applied before Thief fulfils its potential.

With a little over four months to go until launch, it could still go either way.

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15 comments (Leave your own)

Considering that Thief was one of THE game where the hallmark of good player is to complete the task and get what you want WITHOUT ever being detected or even noticed… it better damn well accommodate full stealth run… else it’s old fans will scream murder.

a good Thief would get in, grab what he wants, and get out, and no one would even know he was there.

a Thief that gets in, bludgeon the guards or kill them, grab the stuff, and get out… is a BURGLAR, and no longer a thief.

 

I’ll be honest, much of the time i didnt care as long as i got everything. All i need is rope arrows, broadheads and a blackjack and im good :D

 

“There’s also the matter of Garrett’s new found aptitude for hand-to-hand combat. While engaging several guards will quickly result in being overwhelmed, Garrett is now more than capable of easily dispatching a single adversary. In fact, spamming the attack button was all it took to bring up the option for a cinematic finisher on more than one occasion.”

Sigh.
And they have the balls to call this a Thief game. Incredible.
Removing all the existing lore and factions and backstory, turning this new, young, fake, non-Steve Russel garret into a CqC ninja… jesus…

Is it too much to ask that a studio that actually gives a damn about existing fanbases rather than trying to cater to today’s youth be given the reigns on future iterations of established IP’s?
http://i.imgur.com/Yh6TGbT.jpg

In your short time playing are the rumours true of literally not being able to jump and instead needing to rely on context sensitive button prompts at pre-determined ledges?

 

…the guards have meters above their heads…

…more than capable of easily dispatching a single adversary. In fact, spamming the attack button was all it took to bring up the option for a cinematic finisher…

…cinematic finisher…

And there goes my anticipation for this one. Oh well.

 

I’m still interested in this, I enjoyed a full on lethal Dishonored playthrough, even if the guards did have meters above their heads. Be good to see the final version.

The negatives may not be bad, but I managed to still like Tomb Raider despite some of it’s frustratingly annoying shenanigans, could be the same thing here.

Someone, somewhere, would be unhappy with whatever they do, even an exact remake of the original Thief with all new graphics would have people complain that they’re doing nothing new I’m sure.

 

stoibs:
Is it too much to ask that a studio that actually gives a damn about existing fanbases rather than trying to cater to today’s youth be given the reigns on future iterations of established IP’s?

The main problem here is that there seems to be this pervasive thought in the industry that the existing fanbase won’t make enough money (which we all know is bullshit). So they make it easier and friendlier so more people can play it. This in turn loses them the existing fanbase but surely the new fanbase will eat it up. Right? RIGHT?!

The game ends up being terrible, neither side want it and the IP gets thrown in the trash cos it wasn’t “marketable”.

This, sadly, is what is going to happen to most old games. They see a market for it, get greedy and then ruin the IP.

I just stopped caring about the “new and improved” games cos if they’re terrible I can always go back to the originals. If they’re great then hooray I’ve got another game to play.

stoibs:
In your short time playing are the rumours true of literally not being able to jump and instead needing to rely on context sensitive button prompts at pre-determined ledges?

Gawd! I hope not.

 

It’s the damn publishers, its always been those filthy mother fuckers that bastardise our games. More kickstarter style projects IMO.

 

Think I’ll read some reviews and wait for a sale for this one. It just doesn’t sound like a Thief game to me yet.

 

Nice to see an honest impression of the game instead of a simple regurgitation of publisher spiel. While hearing that combat is now a more viable option is troubling (the fact that Garrett was hopeless in swordplay in the original games was one of the biggest tension raisers imo), Deus Ex: HR was a goddamn masterpiece as far as I’m concerned.

I remain cautiously optimistic. It certainly looks wonderfully in line with the tone of the originals, judging from the screenshots.

 

stoibs: Is it too much to ask that a studio that actually gives a damn about existing fanbases rather than trying to cater to today’s youth be given the reigns on future iterations of established IP’s?

Yeah, give it to the studio who made a new DX game that the vast majority of people think was excellent (minus the boss fights of course)!

Oh, hang on…

Also, if you’re going to carry on when a game doesn’t look like it’s designed just for you, maybe go easy on the whole calling-other-gamers-children thing.

Having said that…. classic mode had better be as they’ve described it. Otherwise I’ll be very disappointed, after pre-ordering just to annoy the shit out of people who don’t like pre-order bonuses.

 

stoibs:

In your short time playing are the rumours true of literally not being able to jump and instead needing to rely on context sensitive button prompts at pre-determined ledges?

Jumping is contextual, so you can’t stand still and jump on the spot but you can jump off ropes, over railings, across gaps etc.

 

The modern gaming industry strikes again…

 

exsonage,

We’ll always have The Dark Mod for those who want traditional, genuinely difficult Thief gameplay. Pandering to the masses is why we have so many watered-down games these days. People don’t know any different.

 

razorback47,

I’ve just now discovered The Dark Mod has gone standalone too, so you don’t even need Doom 3 any more. Bonus! :D

http://games.on.net/file/53177/
(link to game on GoN)

 

Stace Harman,

Thanks for the reply, and thanks for ensuring that this one will only cost me about a fiver when I wait for the price drop during a future sale… /sigh

Cheers also vcatkiller, been waiting for that to go standalone and not rely on Doom for a while now, I’ll give it a whirl :D

 
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