Sunday, November 22, 2015

Thief 1 vs Thief 2: Which is Better?

Thief II: The Metal Age is technically a sequel -- it's in the name, after all -- but it's so much like its predecessor, Thief: The Dark Project, that it doesn't really feel like a sequel. It's basically the same game, but with 15 new missions, a couple new items, and a few technical upgrades to the engine. I guess Looking Glass Studios realized they had a pretty good formula on their hands, and chose not to do anything too extravagant with the sequel. The two games are so fundamentally similar that people tend to lump them together as one collective entity, because if you like one, then you'll like other.

And yet, people definitely have their preferences, with some people liking Thief 1 more for its darker supernatural atmosphere, and others liking Thief 2 more for its more robust level design. Some people find the undead enemies in Thief 1 to be a turn off, while others think the same of the robotic enemies in Thief 2. Having played Thief 2 immediately after finishing Thief 1, there are certain things I like and dislike about it; it's a tough call trying to pick one over the other.

I'm not going to treat this article as a stand-alone review of Thief 2, because that would feel mostly redundant, since I've already covered all of the basics in my review of Thief: The Dark Project. Most of what I wrote in that article applies to Thief 2 as well, so I'd recommend you start there so you have an idea of my thoughts going into this review. I'm also not going to make this a direct side-by-side, in-depth comparison article, either, because the games are so similar I can't talk at much length about how they differ. Rather, this review will be a more simple look at Thief 2 and, in general, how it stacks up to its predecessor.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Looking Back at Thief: The Dark Project

I remember playing Thief II: The Metal Age about 10 years ago and enjoying it quite a bit. Alas, I only played a few levels before something drew me away from it. I mostly remember breaking into mansions, warehouses, and slinking through the city streets on my noble quest to liberate as much gold as possible from the city's aristocratic elite. I thought I knew what I was getting into by jumping back into the series where it at all started, with Thief: The Dark Project; I was pretty surprised, then, when I went into the first game and found myself descending into giant crypts and haunted cathedrals to sneak past and, more often, fight off platoons of undead zombies and skeletons, among other sinister, twisted monstrosities.

Developed by Looking Glass Studios and released in 1998, Thief: The Dark Project was a pioneer of first-person stealth gaming. Its design was years ahead of its time, with the advanced lighting and three-dimensional sound effects offering an unprecedented level of immersive feedback for would-be thieves trying to hide in the shadows and avoid detection. It's impressive, really, how well it holds up after all this time; games have come a long way in the past 17 years, and yet modern stealth games really aren't that much more sophisticated than Thief. It would not be that ridiculous to claim that no other game has handled stealth as well as the original Thief, with the possible exception of Thief II, but that's a discussion for another article. For now, it's time to take a look at Thief: The Dark Project (the Gold Edition, specifically) to figure out what's good and what's not good with it.