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Thief II: The Metal Age

Score: 100%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Developer: Looking Glass
Media: CD/2
Players: 1
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Stealth


Graphics & Sound:

Graphically, Thief II is almost identical to the original game. It's no UT or Quake 3, but what it lacks in pure polygons, it makes up for in detail. Houses have all the rooms a house should have, and no location feels like it was put there 'just because.' The various character models are very detailed (and certain iron clunkers still give me the heebie-jeebies), even if their faces are static when they're talking. Almost everything is manipulatible. Along with this, the between-level FMVs are done in the same animated-drawing style that the original Thief had, to great effect. It's original, dark, and very, very cool.

Sound? Thief II has the best sound in any game, period. You can hear every footstep, every mutter, every yawn, every burp. The voice acting is top-notch (sometimes a bit over the top-notch, but eh), and people will have entire conversations if you care to listen to them. Amazing stuff. Never has a gameworld felt so emmersive. And realism prevails -- leaning into a door lets you hear even better. Your footsteps match what you're walking on (with a few buggy exceptions, but then again, I go out of my way to not do what game designers want me to), and if you're walking on something like metal, it sounds appropriately metallic.

As a final note, the menu system has this really cool steampunk thing going that I like. Overall, great presentation.


Gameplay:

Great gameplay, too. Thief II continues the story of Garrett, who is still living by other people's pockets. The scenarios in this game are intriguing, from the start where you've got to aid your 'friend' in stealing his wife-to-be out of a house, to later missions that have you trying to get back home (a simple task? Wrong), listening in on conversations, and more.

People who are expecting typical FPS gameplay will die, and fast. In fact, the first mission ends if you kill anyone. Instead, you've got to use stealth and trickery, getting behind your opponents and blackjacking them, then hiding their bodies. You can put out lights with water arrows, and use a nifty gadget to see around walls with your metal eye. Garrett sucks mightily in combat, and if he ever encounters two good enemies at the same time that want his blood, he'll probably die. So you've got to learn to hide in the shadows and attack unannounced.

There's a little gem at the bottom of the screen that shows you just how easy you are to see. You can use this to judge if your hiding spot is safe or not. It may be a touch unrealistic, but hey, it works.

In each level, there are piles of salables. The funny thing is, no matter how long you spend in a level, chances are you didn't find more than half of the money. Even when you think you've scoured it entirely, chances are you missed something behind a tapestry or under a box. Part of the game's amazing replayability comes from this feature.

Another wonderful thing about the game is its length. There are 15 missions (or so the box says; I haven't quite gotten that far), and some of the missions took me more than two hours. So sue me; I'm a completist. Even 'rushing' through a level may take you more than 30 to 40 minutes, which is a bright contrast to the old 'par' times from Doom days.

There really isn't much new from the first Thief, but there doesn't have to be. This game is absolutely awesome. It has a great storyline (the sheriff is out to get you, and you don't quite know why) that keeps you begging for more, addictive gameplay, and great graphics.


Difficulty:

Selectable. Thankfully, they were honest, and there is no 'Easy.' It's 'Normal.' There's also 'Hard' and 'Expert.' As the difficulty level changes, so do your objectives -- you may have to find more money, or not kill anyone. And the level itself changes -- things that were once lying around may now be locked up or carried by guards. And believe me, sometimes 'Normal' is damned difficult.

Game Mechanics:

The game uses modified FPS controls, with mouselook and WASD-movement as default. This works great. Each of the weapons are selectable with a key (although I wish that 1, by default, selected the blackjack instead of the sword), and you can lean with the Q and E keys. Inventory is somewhat annoying -- unless you have a mousewheel, in which case it's absolutely trivial. Why don't you have a mouse with a wheel anyway?

Get this game. If you like thinking with your fighting, this is a wonderful game. Sure, it's basically a revamped Thief Gold, but that's not a bad thing at all.


-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:



P2 266, Win95/98, 48MB RAM, DX7.0-compatible 3D card, DX7.0-compatible sound card, 4x CD-ROM, 250MB HD
 

Test System:



Windows 98 running on a K6-III 450 w/ 256MB RAM, 6x24 DVD-ROM drive, SoundBlaster Live!, Creative Labs Riva TNT2 Ultra w/ 32MB RAM

Sony PSOne Hot Shots Golf 2 Windows Metal Gear Solid

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated