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Thief – hands-on within the metropolis of stealth | Video games

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As apparent because it sounds to say so, in Thief you nick issues. You nick quite a lot of issues. Broaches, necklaces, wallets, candelabras – something beneficial that’s mendacity round, actually – all disappear into lead character Garrett’s bottomless sack. You discover a few of these trinkets within the oddest of locations. One would look forward to finding a golden bracelet or two in a wall secure behind a portray, however who on earth leaves a goblet on a rooftop or a few cash on the fringe of a pond?

It’s potential Eidos Montreal has left these treasures scattered round its sport as a way to put gamers into the headspace of its protagonist. If that’s the case, it’s a fully sensible piece of sport design as a result of stealing stuff in Thief isn’t simply enjoyable, it’s addictive. After you’ve snagged your first 5 or 6 baubles, you flip right into a veritable magpie, full of the necessity to acquire any shiny object that catches your eye – even when it means doubtlessly exposing Garrett to hazard so as to take action.

Thief
Victorian structure and glowing lamps dominate the cityscape. {Photograph}: /PR {Photograph}: PR

This compunction to loot is backed up by the sport’s open-ended construction and its seductive visuals. Thief is ready in a dismal city sprawl the place the architectural colleges of Gothic Europe, Victorian London and Steampunk Sci-Fi appear to have collided in a mass of fog and iron. Garrett, the antihero of the collection since its 1998 premier, it again, returning to his residence city, which is now within the grip of each a horrendous plague and a tyrannical ruler, The Baron. A palpable sense of foreboding drapes over the town’s gas-lit streets and shadowy rooftops, an impact that is bolstered in no small half by the flashes of lightning that briefly throw Garrett’s shadow onto the partitions and pavements round him.

As sinister as all of this sounds, it turns into obvious early on that the town’s darkened alleys and rooftops are Garrett’s pure turf. His virtually superhuman skill to maneuver noiselessly by means of his environment turns the skyline into his thoroughfare and makes each shadow inviting. Garrett additionally has the flexibility to ‘swoop’ out and in of swimming pools of sunshine fast sufficient to keep away from detection and he’s armed with a good array of kit together with lockpicks, arrows and a crowbar to power open the odd window.

Stolen moments

From the proof of the preview construct I had a hands-on with, Thief incorporates the odd transient linear passage, which helps transfer the narrative alongside, however as soon as Garrett is in view of a constructing that homes a beneficial merchandise he’s after – whether or not it’s a part of a facet job or a narrative mission – Thief’s construction opens up. Couple this unfastened framework with the kleptomaniacal impulses instilled within the participant early on, and the world in Thief merely begs to be explored.

An ideal instance of this got here in a passage of play that occurred after the sport’s tutorial degree. Following a bungled theft, Garrett has to flee again to his headquarters by means of one of many metropolis’s mercantile districts. As I picked my means throughout the rooftops, noticing one of many streetlamps beneath me was on the blink, I heard a few guards remarking on how lovely a golden masks within the window of a jewellery store appeared.

Properly, I assumed, because it’s on my means…

The jewellery store raid confirmed there’s no set option to efficiently pull off a housebreaking. It was potential to enter the premises by observing the nightwatch guards, being attentive to their patrol patterns, timing one’s  actions to achieve the store’s door undetected after which choosing the lock. Alternately, I discovered after circling the emporium that one of many again home windows was open and it was potential to enter by shimmying as much as the
rooftops.

As soon as inside, I discovered that the open-ended nature of development prolonged to the type of play, too. To wit, gamers can proceed as loudly or as quietly as they need, though, they’ll discover that taking part in to Garrett’s strengths – transferring stealthily and hiding from view – will show simpler in the long term.

In my run-through I discovered one guard on patrol within the entrance of the store, however incapacitating him was simple sufficient. As soon as I’d helped myself to every part that wasn’t nailed down on show, I picked the lock of the window show case and located that the masks within the window that had so impressed the guards was truly gilded glass – and thus, nugatory. At this stage I may’ve simply made my exit however I made a decision, since I’d gone to the difficulty of breaking and coming into, to discover extra of the store.

Ready sport

I’ll neither reveal what else I discovered, nor will I reveal any particulars I uncovered concerning the sport’s plot. Consider me after I inform you I’m doing you a favour. The much less one is aware of concerning the sport’s story and its hidden gems, the higher time one can have when it’s launched on the finish of subsequent month. That’s, if the builders handle to kind out a few points that, whereas not deal-breakers, are irritating nontheless.

Garrett’s stock, for instance, is mapped to the touchpad on the PS4’s controller, however the way in which it’s been carried out renders it just about ineffective. Choosing objects concerned hammering the contact pad and whereas that is irritating sufficient throughout sections of the sport the place gamers have quite a lot of time to think about their subsequent transfer, it will be doubtlessly infuriating in the event that they’re beneath duress.

Thief
A plague threatens the clearly in any other case joyous metropolis. {Photograph}: PR

Second, I can report that Thief has quite a lot of lovely loading screens, and it is a good factor that they are lovely, as a result of gamers will likely be gazing them for an awfully very long time.  Loading instances really feel interminable and after they seem after a dramatic cutscene, they handle to interrupt the atmospheric spell the remainder of the sport is so profitable at weaving. Facial animations additionally look positively last-gen, which is unusual as a result of the environments surrounding the characters are fantastically detailed and delightful to behold.

Right here’s hoping Eidos manages to tighten up these flaws as a result of they’re sizable chinks in Thief’s armour. With out them, there’s lots on this sport to admire and the pull of its world is intoxicating. Thief places gamers into the headspace of a light-fingered ne’er-do-well and drops them right into a metropolis full of trinkets to steal and homes to interrupt into. Even with its niggles Thief accomplishes what the very best journey video games got down to do – it surrounds you in a world you could possibly get misplaced in after which encourages you to just do that.

Thief is launched on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One on 25 February (US), 27 Feburary  (Aus) and 28 February (Europe)

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