2004 Reviews

Thief: Deadly Shadows

  • Review Date: 2008-10
  • Release Date: 2004-05
  • Developer: Ion Storm Austin
  • Rating: 7.0

Released in 2004, Thief: Deadly Shadows is the third game in the series. However, this time it was developed by Ion Storm Austin, after Looking Glass Studios closed doors.

I played the original Thief demo in 1998 but didn't particularly enjoy sneaking around in shadows, so I never played the full game or it's sequel. But with Thief 3 based on a heavily modifed Unreal 2 engine, I decided I could put up with some slow gameplay in order to explore the gorgeous Victorian city.

I'm glad I did too, because it was very well designed. After playing through Enclave and now Thief 3, I've been spoiled with highly detailed, tight and twisting little levels. The FPS genre needs more games in this style, rather than modern war or sci-fi themes. Every level in this game looks great, and there is just enough variety in there so that you don't get sick of the town theme. Level highlights were the short but foreboding haunted, rotting ship full of zombies. But it was an insane asylum slash orphanage which wins the award for spookiest level I've ever played. You help a ghostly little girl try to escape the asylum, playing from present time to back in the past through the eyes of one of the insane patients. Very, very well done.

Due to the level of sneaking around in shadows and trying not to be seen, this brings a whole new level of suspense to first person shooters (if you can call this that), which even horror games like Undying couldn't do. If you get seen and have to engage in a fight you're going to take a lot of damage, which means you really can't treat this as an action game. The style of gameplay works well, but I did wish at times I could just run in and shoot everything and be done with it. Instead, you can easily spend ten minutes in an area trying to knock each opponent out.

The game ends up being very long, perhaps around twenty hours which is double your average action FPS. Unfortunately, you spend a great deal of time returning to levels you've already played through over and over again. Made worse by the fact that your maps are useless and the levels are very non-linear, so you can easily get lost in the streets which often lack distinguishable features.

The biggest problem with the game were the loading times. On a fairly new system brought for gaming (8800GT, 3ghz Intel Core 2 Duo) you don't expect loading times of 20 seconds on a game that is four years old, featuring relatively small levels. Every time I'd sneak up behind an enemy ready to knock them out, only for them to slightly turn at the last second or the character not swinging the bat properly (it happens a lot!) I get to sit through another 20 seconds of loading. Also Garrett, the main character, acts like a complete drunk sometimes with the way he moves - and his ability to jump even a foot high object is laughable.

Another big probably was over 15 hours into the game, my saved games corrupted themselves and I lost everything. Fortunately, someone had put all their saved games on the internet for me to play from.

Overall, Thief: Deadly Shadows features some fantastic little levels, enjoyable gameplay and a great storyline. But you need to be a patient person to sit through 20 hours of creeping in the shadows.