Shadowy: The Greatest Thief The World Has Never Seen

By Adam Smith on June 10th, 2013 at 4:00 pm.

I was prepared to act dumb, pretending that I hadn’t been able to make out the gruff witterings of a silly voiceover. Probably just rats. I’d even turn a blind eye to the live action robbery and harrowing arrowing that accompanied the sounds. Nothing to see there. Despite a pleasing shot at the end, which brings back delightful memories of the original games’ beautifully stylised mission briefings, the latest Thief trailer isn’t really worth watching, although you can do so below. It’s worth drawing attention to the trailer because of what it isn’t. Not a jot of the technically superb and far more stealth-friendly in-game footage that I’ve seen with my own eyes is shown, and that is a shame.

Following reports of trouble at the Montreal mill and shenanigans during the press preview, I’m sure many people would be reassured by a glimpse of the game in action. The demonstration that I saw was hugely impressive, despite some reservations about the character of the City and its inhabitants, and the team did explain that the sequence shown was unrepresentative of the same level in the final game. ‘A Frankenstein scenario’, they called it, stitching together infiltration, rooftop running, robbery, action and escape. They wanted to show as many aspects of the game as possible in an artificially compact thirty minute session, which is understandable.

Without hands-on time, it’s impossible to know how much deviation from a set course is viable in any given build of a game. Mistakes are oddly reassuring. I remember seeing Company of Heroes 2 for the first time and, though not allowed to play, I found the claims as to the engine’s power far more convincing when what could have been a scripted sequence went slightly wrong and the keyboard corporal at the helm ended up having to improvise a solution.

The Thief demonstration was far smoother, a sort of greatest hits compilation that was thoroughly planned from beginning to end, but it provided far more compelling evidence of Eidos Montreal’s approach to the license, and the game’s potential quality, than a video that doesn’t actually include the game. At all.

Hopefully we’ll see and hear far more about Thief during E3. I’ll be keeping my best mechanical eye zoomed in on proceedings, ready to refer back to my Montreal notes and report on any changes or developments of interest.

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70 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    I could ignore how ridiculous Garrett has been made to look until he stared flirtatiously out at me from the side of the current RPS ad-skin.

  2. inertia says:

    you have not actually embedded the trailer, Adam Smith

  3. GallonOfAlan says:

    PLEASEDONTFUCKITUP

    Don’t give a shite what Garret looks like. Just give me huge, sprawling levels full of secrets and alternate routes and proper stealth like we used to have.

    • Grey Poupon says:

      The rumors claim they’ve already fucked it up a couple dozen times. Whether they’ll be able to unfuck it up is the question you should be asking. And that’s usually a pretty hard thing to do. Go ask Duke if you don’t believe me.

  4. Stevostin says:

    That bow is dumb.

    • Premium User Badge

      basilisk says:

      His approach to anchoring is pretty impressive, too.

    • roryok says:

      I didn’t mind it right up to the point where it popped out. No tension on the string if it did that. Arrow would go about five feet.

      • Premium User Badge

        MacBeth says:

        …and he’s shooting Japanese style, for some reason. Rule of Cool again I suppose…

  5. Javier-de-Ass says:

    “‘A Frankenstein scenario’, they called it, stitching together infiltration, rooftop running, robbery, action and escape. They wanted to show as many aspects of the game as possible in an artificially compact thirty minute session, which is understandable.”

    what? are those supposed to be different forced scenario types, like in the newest hitman? why not let those scenario types happen naturally through different systems interacting, mechanics and objectives. and let the player discover the game on his/her own? maybe I’m misreading.

    • Brun says:

      It sounds like the developers intentionally followed those paths, in order to show off some of the different ways the game can be approached. Based on the actual article that RPS wrote on that press demo, they weren’t “forced scenario types,” they’re just ways that Adam chose to describe the selections the developers made.

    • Adam Smith says:

      No – possibly poor wording on my part. As it was explained, these are all things that can happen during a single level. Get spotted and fight or flight are the options, or try to stay hidden and do the whole thing without being seen.

      The demo level forced every type of experience into a condensed timeframe.

    • KenTWOu says:

      It’s called vertical slice.

      • DatonKallandor says:

        A Vertical slice shows all the things a game has in one condensed polished preview. If the Vertical slice of Thief has action and stealth kills, it means those things are in the game – when they clearly shouldn’t be. It’s a Thief game, not Deus Ex.

  6. dE says:

    I’m Garrett… Thief Robber and murderer. That’s what I fear most about this game. Please prove me wrong Devs, please prove me wrong.

  7. 1Life0Continues says:

    I’m cautiously optimistic.

    Sure, Garrett looks like he was designed by a high school kid that never grew out of the “Goths+Ninjas are cool” stage and that bow looks anachronistic as hell given the kind of realm we’re used to dealing with, but I guess at the end of the day it’s the gameplay that matters most.

    Still think Garrett looks like a twat, though.

    • Brun says:

      1) Can’t be anachronistic unless the game occurs in a real historical setting.
      2) I thought the Thief universe had Steampunk elements. Hydraulics and simple machinery wouldn’t be beyond the scope of that theme.

      • 1Life0Continues says:

        Your point is taken.

        Although, given the bow used in the first few games, which looked like a simple recurve bow with an assisted sight, not a compound bow with more hinges than a door, it still feels wrong.

        Also, as a thief, wouldn’t you want to cut down on the amount of accessories that could snag on things? Those pauldrons look unwieldy, as well as a nifty way to get hung up on a window frame. The amounf of leather straps is insane, not to mention all the freely flapping ends that could snag, or simply make noise while moving. and the kneepads make sense in a way, but should probably be under the trousers to reduce snagging.

        Rule of cool is fine and all, and I get I might be nitpicking, but if you’re gonna make Garrett look like a twat, at least make him a believable one.

  8. ResonanceCascade says:

    I really don’t like this trailer. It’s not so much that they changed Garrett’s voice, but the fact that it completely and utterly misses his personality.

    But hey, maybe the actual game will be different.

    • jonnyherbert says:

      Ugh, completely. I’m looking forward to seeing how this turns out, but laconic, guys. Laconic.

  9. Brun says:

    Reply fail.

  10. denizsi says:

    The text of that narration is abysmal. Not in character with the Garret we’ve come to known from the original games. Yeah, an “original Thief game” this one won’t be though it may be fun.

  11. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    I shall remain from judging the game until the common people have seen actual Thifourf footage.
    Which leaves me with drooling over that gorgeous outfit.

  12. AreWeHavingFunYet says:

    “Stealing is my way of life, it sets me free in the night”

    Who writes this shit? Or, as the real Garret would put it: “How pretentious can you get”?

    • InternetBatman says:

      Yeah, it’s just dreary.

    • Yosharian says:

      Man, that’s exactly what I was thinking. Garrett would really have a field day with this crap. There’s no way he would ever SAY any of this.

      Let’s face it boys, our beloved anti-hero has been flushed down the shitter, a relic of a bygone era.

      The most we can hope for is that this game will be a semi-competent stealth game.

      • Kaira- says:

        Isn’t Thi4f supposed to be a prequel? Would explain the dialogue somewhat.

        • Yosharian says:

          Well, there is that, but I think it’s hoping for too much that the character is young, naive fool who learns the errors of his ways, and turns into ‘old man’ Garrett. No, I don’t think that will happen.

          Still, it’s a good point you make.

        • InternetBatman says:

          If it was a prequel his eyes would match.

      • ResonanceCascade says:

        I keep telling myself that I will be OK with another good stealth game from Eidos Montreal. First person stealth is my favorite kind of game, so another solid one is still a victory.

        But still, knowing how good a proper Thief game is — literally as good as gaming gets — means I can’t help but wish for the real deal.

        • Premium User Badge

          cpt_freakout says:

          This. If it doesn’t have all the right ingredients, of which one of the most important is the writing, then all the great mechanics and gameplay in the world can’t make it into a proper Thief game. It doesn’t mean it won’t be enjoyable, but it definitely means that the kind of experience the series’ fans would expect is unlikely to become reality, which is to say one of those defining moments in PC gaming like the first two Thief(s)… thieves? Thief’s? Ahhh, you get me :P

  13. int says:

    My name is Garrett. You have failed this city.

  14. DatonKallandor says:

    ” ‘A Frankenstein scenario’, they called it”
    Are you sure they weren’t talking about the new Thief in total?

  15. nizzie says:

    “Did you miss me?”

    How the heck are YOU? Where’s Garrett?

  16. Myrdinn says:

    Comparing this to the Thief: TDP trailer makes me sad. So much more production value, yet so shallow.

  17. Muzman says:

    Given that the controversy was that there’s no actual game, releasing a new trailer with no actual game seems…ill advised.

  18. Upper Class Twit says:

    Yo, can someone explain to me what sucks so much about this Thief’s voice actor. Cause I only played a couple of levels from Thief 2, and I remember the VO being gravelly voiced, and alright if not particularly memorable. This VO also strikes me as gravelly voiced, and alright, if not particularly memorable. Maybe a bit more dramatic, I guess.

    Also, where is everyone getting that the gameplay is going to suck from? The only person who’s actually seen some gameplay, or at the very least, a concept demo, came away impressed (that being Adam).

    Please, enlighten me, fellow cynics, that I may join you. You all make being angry about video games seem so fun.

    • Yosharian says:

      It’s nothing to do with the quality of the VO, although Russell’s voice is far more interesting IMO. It’s more to do with the writing. The new game is painting Garrett as an assassin, with ‘stealth takedowns’ and a ‘tech bow’. That’s not what Garrett is. Also the voiceovers don’t reflect Garrett’s character at all, he’s a sardonic type of person, a cynic who believes the world is shit basically, not this guy who thinks he’s the second coming or something.

    • AreWeHavingFunYet says:

      He sounds too young and too cocky. It’s a completely different, far less interesting, character.

    • Grygus says:

      It’s kind of like having Conan the Barbarian striding forth on the battlefield talking about the role of warfare in society and his place in that construct, instead of just smacking stuff with huge swords. It seems unnecessary. I would add that Garrett’s claim that a lifestyle that revolves around him staying hidden promotes a feeling of freedom doesn’t even make sense to me.

      But here I am only criticizing the trailer, and not the game. So it seems I too have much to learn.

    • Vorphalack says:

      ”I only played a couple of levels from Thief 2”

      You don’t get to join us cynics until you complete your right of passage.

      • Grargh says:

        I’m pretty sure your spelling was not rite, there.

        • Vorphalack says:

          I’m dyslexic. If it doesn’t have a red under line, I probably wont spot it.

  19. Kromaxx says:

    What a noob! White goose fletchings on your arrows?!. Pffft what a fashion faux pas and a dead give away that you’re a total noob thief.

    Black turkey fletchings are all the rage!

    This game screams prequel with that …. cock-up.

  20. Venters says:

    “So that’s the famous Garrett, huh? Guess he’s not as good looking as I heard.”

  21. Jason Moyer says:

    The similar degree to which the Human Revolution trailer also sucked is basically the only reason this doesn’t worry me.

    • Brun says:

      This really. Stealth sequences are pretty difficult to make into trailers, mainly due to the short timeframe you have to work with and that they aren’t as loud and attention-grabbing as action sequences.

      • DatonKallandor says:

        Too bad if the game is ALL ABOUT STEALTH. Thief isn’t Dishonoured – it’s not about “freedom on how you take on the game – through violence, stealth kills or non-lethal-but-actually-identical-to-stealth-kills”. It’s about freedom on how you go about being stealthy. The fact that they think going kung fu on guards is even supposed to be an option shows how clueless the devs are.

        And the Nickelback lyric writer reject level dialogue is just the rotten cherry on top of the cow’s pie.

    • Yglorba says:

      I was going to say that, yes — they naturally assume that the existing Thief fans are already in the bag, so they focus on other people with their trailer, much like Bioshock Infinite did.

      But then I remember saying the exact same things myself when Hitman Absolution’s trailer made it look like it forgot everything that made Hitman fun, and, unfortunately, when we got the final game it had forgotten everything that made Hitman fun… so really, there’s no knowing.

  22. edwardoka says:

    Heh. It’s a throne room. How pretentious can you get? My lamentable plight, I am calamity.

  23. Wang Tang says:

    I really hope this gets released for iOS. Am already saving money for in-app purchases :)

  24. jonahcutter says:

    I sincerely hope that’s not an example of the writing in the game.

    I snickered at the bow. It’d be cool in another game, maybe. It just seems painfully over-complicated for a pragmatist like Garrett. I imagine him smirking to himself if some young thief showed up with such a contraption.

    Stephen Russell’s voice is just more interesting. He quite effortlessly sounds gritty and cynical. This guy sounds like he’s trying really hard to be gritty and cynical, but not really getting there.

    They really screwed the pooch not bringing Russell back. So much of the Thief experience is in the atmosphere and world. Russell’s distinctive performance was instrumental in creating that ambiance. And their excuse for not using him is about as thin as the new actor’s performance. Guess Eidos never heard of the mysterious and arcane technique known as “dubbing”. And that veteran actors are generally trained and experienced in such a thing.

  25. Premium User Badge

    cpt_freakout says:

    Does anyone else think that the tagline is also pretty stupid? “What’s yours is mine” in jaggedy wannabe psycho font is, to me, either not even trying or trying too damn hard to be clever.

    Edit: By ‘also’ I refer to the writing. It’s like bad rock song stuff, like I’m 14 again and taking Metallica seriously. Man was I an idiot at 14.

    • Premium User Badge

      DrScuttles says:

      We all were idiots when we were 14. Possibly some of us felt that Marilyn Manson was a ‘deep’ songwriter.
      However this isn’t the first time they’ve used this shite:
      “What is locked… can be opened
      What is hidden… can be found
      What is yours… can be mine.”
      -Thief: Deadly Shadows official trailer.
      And even Stephen Russell doesn’t make it sound good.

  26. TheBarringGaffner says:

    Am I the only one who thinks the new Garrett seems disturbingly similar to the new Dante? Old Garrett was never this unironically self-absorbed and pretentious.

  27. malkav11 says:

    So, wait, the tag line is “What’s Yours is Mine”? Monaco fans, eh?