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To say that Thief had a troubled development cycle is an understatement. It's troubles began with rumors of discord within the developer and publisher and intensified after a lackluster E3 demo in the years leading up to release. Now that the game is finally released, can it take the crown as the king of all stealth games? Or did the development problems of the game take a toll on the game itself?

Sadly, it looks to be the latter and not the former.

The problems in Thief start from the very beginning with the very first cutscene. To put it bluntly, the story is a mess. Characters are introduced and disappear without ever making a difference in the plot, the plot itself skips through time randomly without mentioning when and the intentions of the main character are laughable at best and downright confusing at worst. Thief, at its core, should have been a game about sneaking around, stealing items and letting the levels themselves craft a dynamic story through gameplay. While past Thief games had story elements, it was never as forced as it is here, with the game constantly jerking control from the player to show you things of interest or another cutscene. If these cutscenes were decent or told a decent story, maybe this wouldn't be such a bad thing, but they aren't.

The gameplay in Thief is going to divide players right down the middle based on whether they played the old Thief games or not. For Thief purists, this new entry in the franchise will likely streamline the game too much, though players who are new to the stealth genre will likely find a lot to love here. For starters, many of your character's trick arrows, such as rope arrows, can now only be used in specific, highlighted points throughout the game: A far cry from the previous games, where rope arrows could be used on any wooden surface. In addition, the new game mode that lets you see through walls and the removal of the jump button will likely have old fans of the series jumping ship. The game controls decent and the stealth is still spot-on, so while the story falters the gameplay is still decent enough if you aren't comparing it to past Thief games.

The level design, while not on par with past games in the series, is still decent in its own right but different from past games. Rather than needing to get in and out of each location at the same area, levels are a lot more linear. Most of the time, you'll enter a level, grab the item you need to complete it and exit the level at a completely different location, never needing to backtrack. This means that you don't really need to worry about hiding bodies as you're never going to be revisiting old areas.

Of special note is the game's artificial intelligence, or lack thereof. Enemies will constantly run into walls, they won't notice you even when you're right on top of them and their attention span is extremely short, meaning they will give up a chase relatively quickly. The game could have used some more quality control before rushing it out to release.

Thief was released for five systems: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC. The PC version works the best out of these five, as the current generation systems, especially the PlayStation 4, feature framerate issues during cutscenes. The game doesn't feel optimized for any particular home console very well, which is likely the result of needing to develop for so many systems simultaneously.

So is Thief worth playing? If you're a fan of the older games in the series, most likely not. However, if you're only a casual player of the stealth genre and you can overlook its many flaws, then perhaps. It's not worth a full price purchase but at $30 or so? It's worth a spin at that price.

tags ps4theif

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