Thief (PS4) Review
Can't Steal A Good Time
Thief is a franchise known the around the world and has been highly anticipated to make a comeback since its reveal in 2009. Instead of a sequel, they opted for a reboot of the franchise. So what does this title have in a market surrounded by others like Dishonored which took much of its inspiration from the Thief franchise and went on to be widely acclaimed. Better yet, how does it stand against previous titles in the entry? Does it fall short or does it prove that you can truly teach an old dog new tricks?
Garrett, the master thief, is still up to his ‘Robin Hood’ ways and returns to ‘The City’ after being away for quite a while only to find it being overrun by corruption and plague. His friend and apprentice thief of sorts; Erin are on their way to steal in a location involving some of the most influential people in the city. One thing leads to another and an accident occurs. Years later, Garrett returns to ‘The City’ to see it slowly crumbling before his eyes, plague and corruption run among the streets. The rich live lavishly as the poor are punished for basically just living.
Garrett then meets his old friend Basso (who fans of the franchise will remember), over the course of the game he is your source for side-missions throughout the city. Side-missions are simple get to point “A” and steal something type of quests. Client requests which are distinguished only by the fact they are longer and usually involving a few guards, require you to go to the correct client to initiate the quest and complete it.
The gameplay of Thief is rather reminiscent of the others in the franchise with some platforming and such. A large emphasis is of course on thievery and the large city helps that, it’s more of an sandbox thieving game really. There are NPC enemies who will shoot you on sight and civilians who won’t care as you walk past them carrying a large bow and an array of tipped arrows. The drawback is that there is no sense of notoriety which would have been great to have a way to lower it during the game so you can walk freely in the city instead of having to stick to the shadows. I guess it all makes sense though within the context of the franchise. Supplies are somewhat limited, as is money unless you willingly do every side-quest and sit through a lot of screen-loads to do them all. Given that supply and money are both pretty much limited in the game, I am confused as to why the developer did not allow Garrett to retrieve his arrows when he shoots people, it would have made things a ton easier, and a bit more realistic. However, looking at guards with “Weekend At Bernie’s” syndrome is pretty funny.
The sandbox element is not without its drawback. The game is run on Unreal Engine 3 and that can be seen with the pop-in which is apparent even on next-gen platforms which I believe isn’t “okay”. The use of Unreal Engine 3 when Unreal Engine 4 is readily available for development is a major crutch for the game. The graphics don’t look so next-gen, and are quite comparable to current-gen. The pop-in as stated happens often as the game is constantly loading. It makes me feel that the large sandbox was broken down to smaller areas for current-gen and load times were never optimized for next-gen platforms. The platform I reviewed on (PS4) looked great, from afar but when you really focused on stuff the graphics were no better than some top current gen games. The lighting and shadows were pretty well done though. All-in-all, I felt it could have been a lot better, but the load-times were pretty bad.
The game is also plagued with glitches, ranging from me alerting enemies and while running around trying to evade I notice a single enemy standing there in “display mode”. In another sequence where I had to jump on some metal beds I fell off every time I made it to the third-tier. One time I fell and was stuck there suspended in an ever-falling loop for a good 30 seconds. The City itself is an 18th century steam-punk look that a few other titles in the genre have dabbled with, but one that the Thief franchise is known for and it plays it off rather well from the cobblestone houses to the brick pathways.