Thief: Deadly Shadows Review

It's deadly in the shadows for this thief.

Review by Tracy Bosworth
Published 5th August 2004

Thief: Deadly Shadows

  • Developer: Ion Storm
  • Publisher: Eidos
  • Release Date: 11th June 2004

Originally developed by the now non-existent Looking Glass Studios the thief series is said to have introduced the stealth elements of gameplay into the highly competitive gaming world which we have all grown to know and love from the likes of Metal Gear Solid and of course Splinter Cell. Taking over this somewhat nostalgic franchise is developer Ion Storm who brings us Thief: Deadly Shadows, the third instalment of the Thief series.

Players assume the role of Garret, a master thief famed in his homeland for his cunning skill and untouchable presence. The actual story fuelling Garrets adventures slowly unfolds throughout the gameplay through a number of cut scenes, books, scrolls and overheard conversations which you encounter as you carry out your work. The main plot of the game involves you using your skills and tactics to save the city from an uncertain future becoming increasingly close to uncovering a forbidden secret along the way.

The game starts out with a short tutorial mission that obviously aims to help players get to grips with their surroundings and controls which are pretty simple and laid out nicely meaning less time is spent on figuring things out and playing around with different buttons! Movement is controlled via a combination of the mouse and keyboard whilst the right mouse button acts as your ‘action’ key.

The games levels are set out as individual missions that are briefed to you before you set off along with a list of objectives to complete within the mission. Objectives can be reviewed at any time by pressing the ‘O’ button, from this screen you can also take a look at your mission briefing, your gear and your loot.

So, what does a thief get up to as he goes about his daily business? The answer of course is pretty much anything he wants to! Garret’s surroundings are freely set out allowing you to tackle your mission in whichever way you choose to in your own time. Obviously your main task is to stay undetected which involves using the one sneak option to avoid alerting guards and to remain quiet, other abilities such as dousing flame torches and creating distractions are also at your disposal given you a number of tactics to think about at each step of the game.

As you would imagine, everyone else’s belongings in the game are yours for the taking and amongst the rubbish, worthy loot is highlighted with a certain gleam enabling you to save time and avoid picking up any old thing in the hope you can later sell to your underground buddies. Stealing from the rich to give to the poor (yourself in this case) is all very well but the risk you will be caught is always there and in Thief: Deadly Shadows you do not want to let this happen.

Your speciality is stealth, not combat and this is highlighted when ever you get yourself into a bit of bother. Armed with a dagger, a bow and various arrows you do have a slight chance of getting the better of your enemies but if truth be told, the likelihood is that you will be killed pretty quickly whizzing you back to where you last saved. You do have a one move however which, when executed properly can almost guarantee you a combat success, if you can creep up behind an enemy close enough you can deliver a devious blow with your Blackjack knocking him unconscious for the rest of the mission, you can then hide the bodies in dark corners where they are unlikely to be found.

Enemy AI is pretty sharp in Deadly Shadows; guards will become alerted to your presence by the slightest noise, item of furniture out of place, any odd occurrence (the lights suddenly going out) and will even spot traces of blood on the ground from previous fights. Should they have their feathers rattled the guards will come out in force to look for you, often discussing you between them.

Graphics wise Thief: Deadly Shadows looks pretty impressive, lighting and shadow effects look fantastic and are definitely a highlight of the game while characters are generally well drawn and animated. However there are some flaws in the games presentation graphical breaks are fairly common and just like in Ion Storms last game Deus Ex: Invisible War characters tend to die in some extremely odd poses (such as enemies falling practically bent in half!). Other points of note about the games graphics include rubber masked looking faces on character models and the occasional odd animation. Despite this the game manages to portray the eerie and dark atmosphere that sets the mood for the entire game, nicely set out environments deserve a little credit as well.

The games sound by far outshines the graphics with everything from idle non playable character conversations to discreet footsteps pacing through the dark environments. Character dialogue can be a little unoriginal with the usual “what was that noise? Oh, I must have been hearing things” from the guards but voice acting is brilliantly performed and the entire Thief world is alive with realistic sounds and noises.

So what is it about stealth games that usually guarantee’s them an instant hit? Are we all wannabe Sam Fishers or is it the addictive and realistic gameplay that this genre usually brings with its games? All in all Thief: Deadly Shadows provides an excellent addition to any stealth collection with a deep and well delivered storyline and an atmosphere you could cut with a knife.

Review Score: 8.2/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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