Inside At Last: Thief Is Fifteen Today

By RPS on November 30th, 2013 at 8:55 pm.

Fifteen years ago to the day, with some variance depending on where in the world you lived at the time, Thief: The Dark Project, went on sale. It is one of the games that continues to define the possibilities of first-person architecture and also an example of interactive storytelling that has endured over a decade and a half without being fully tapped. Some of the lessons that the team at Looking Glass laid out in their masterpiece has influenced a great deal of gaming. Other parts, like the Thief himself, appear to have gone unnoticed. Here, we remember and celebrate the brilliance of The Dark Project.

We all have memories of Thief. Some are more recent than others.

Kieron has written extensively about Thief in the past and recognised, in the days before he had properly invented games journalism, that it was quite important.

It seems miraculous to me now. It’s like if Lester Bangs’ first assignment was to go and interview the Velvet Underground. Within the first week on the job, I’d found my Lou Reed…Thief, in a real way, justified my entire approach to the medium. So, if you’re ever looking for something to blame, blame it.

Read this.

Alec, on the other hand, played The Dark Project for the first time last week. You may have witnessed his efforts.

And now, the rest.

John: Thief changed how I see the world. Not in a significant, life-changing way. Just after I’d played it, for a bit, I was unable to go anywhere, look at anything, without spotting the shadows, instinctively calculate routes that would avoid lights, and consider how I was going to get from the top of one nearby building to the next.

Its astonishing atmosphere was invasive, leaking out from the game and into reality, leaving me sticking to walls and momentarily panicking at the sight of oncoming car lights, before realising myself. I couldn’t walk past the university buildings where I was studying without planning climbable routes up to their roofs. And then fighting the temptation to try.

The photophobia the game was capable of inducing is testament to the intensity and thrill that occupied its every moment. The infamously terrible graphics were never a problem, and they were never truly terrible. They were atmosphere, an extra layer of grittiness in this dark, creepy world, amongst whose dark you crept about.

I could, and probably should, go on about the ludicrous thrill of evading capture, successfully sneaking past guards, a perfectly aimed water arrow, and the joy of clearing a level unseen. But what I most want to champion about Thief was the extraordinarily subversive nature of its difficulty levels.

The higher you made the difficulty, the fewer people you were allowed to kill, or even stun. It was, and still is, such a contrary approach to gaming, and a bold statement of how exquisite game design affords a game far more freedom to be interesting. If your game is good enough, you do not need to bury it beneath increasing numbers of enemies, but rather expose it even further.

Thief looked dated when it came out in 1998, but weirdly looks less so now. You can absolutely go back to it, and still become utterly engrossed in its world, and be completely terrified by its sneaky brilliance. It’s simply one of the greatest games ever made.

Jim: There are few games which are also revelations. Thief was one of these, for more reasons than mere radical game design. On a personal level its existence is inextricably tied up with my life’s direction as a whole. The events of 1998, and by events I mostly mean games, pretty much confirmed that I would end up working with games in some capacity. Specifically, it determined that I would spiral towards games journalism like a tiny spaceship full of childhood hope caught on the event horizon of a career black hole.

Hopefully Kieron won’t be reading this article, so it’ll be safe to say that his Thief review – read because I’d started buying PC Gamer again that year – reminded me how entertaining and affecting I found games writing to be. Amiga Power, the magazine I had once read religiously during its short life, had laid the foundations for this appreciation, but it was by reading the Thief review in PC Gamer that I was confirmed as a subscriber, and that ultimately led me to end up working for that same magazine an couple of years later. I didn’t even know I wanted to be a games journalist when I read that review – it didn’t even enter my mind as a possibility – but I knew I had to get the game, and that I knew that it would matter.

It did. It was thrilling. It was appallingly scary. It made me realise that vulnerability is more important to me in games than empowerment. It made me love shadows, and it made me love first-person movement. I’d been in love with the first-person perspective in games since I first touched a keyboard connected to Wolfenstein, but I don’t believe I’d really thought about movement and embodiment until I’d started playing Thief. The levels weren’t simply blockades to blasting, they were situations to be unravelled. The freedom the game insisted you take responsibility for was intoxicating, and it diminished all its first-person peers.

As I said, it was revelatory.

Browsing the Thief Wikipedia page, and looking down the credits, I realise it’s impossible to truly define how significant Thief was so many people of far greater importance than myself. It launched careers, and it defined design approaches for the decade that followed. Thief represents a waypoint, and a signpost to greater things. Few games manage such a legacy. Fascinating that so many of them should have appeared in that particular year.

Adam: When I played the demo, I realised that I was experiencing something new. It was on a cover disk – it must have been because that’s where such things lived 15 years ago – and I don’t remember thinking it was important until I installed it. I don’t remember a fanfare. There’s no other game that caught my eye, so effectively, with a cutscene.

Thief’s mission prologues and story scenes are perfectly representative of the game that they punctuate. The art style is unusual, an apparent collage of mysteries, and the world is strange, a medieval cyberpunk directed by a knowing eye. They introduce a world full of threat and wonder, a fantastic creation that ejects goblins and saves its dark corners for crooks and cults. Across gaming’s greatest trilogy, Thief created a world like nothing else and told a story that was both personal and quietly apocalyptic.

Always quietly. Because as well as telling that story, Thief invented the stealth game as I understand it. Not the first, but the most meaningful for me and, I believe, for many people who grew up with a PC humming in the corner of their hhouse. It’s a game about the construction and manipulation of architecture, about the freedom to traverse a space while under threat. It’s a game about the boldness that leads to fear and the absolute terror of the unknown. Fear of the dark and the lust for shadows combine into an experience that is both empowering and horrifying.

It is the most significant game I’ve ever played, just ahead of Ultima VII. Both are games that made me love the possibilities of this medium, of the immersion, confusion and excitement that are possible when navigating strange spaces. At the time, Thief convinced me that the future was as bright as the shadows were dark and that everything from then on would stand on its shoulders. The Metal Age and Dishonored aside, those shoulders haven’t been tested, and I still believe it is one of the most important games ever made. Not the root that I believed it might become, but a seed to be studied and nurtured.

The term doesn’t always carry a great deal of meaning, but Thief was ahead of its time. The tech wasn’t ready, but did a damn good job, and the representation of people – in a fantasy environment – is something a lot of chainmail bikini and loincloth designers could learn from. Nothing since has made me love games quite as much but I wouldn’t love games half as much as I do if I’d never experienced it. Even though I tend toward strategy and simulation in my later days, in many ways, Thief is the reason I care so much and ask as many questions as I do.

And here is my love letter to the series.

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87 Comments »

  1. guygodbois00 says:

    We were 15 years younger and were playing Thief then. What more can I say?

  2. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    It is the most significant game I’ve ever played, just ahead of Ultima VII.
    I will let that slide because U7 on its own is a bit messy, as I have recently been reminded.

    Thief is definitely up there with that and DX. In no particular order for me. They do very different things.

    • Ultra Superior says:

      My thoughts exactly. And as Adam said, I was adamant, hah, that after these two games, others would surely follow. Decade flew by and NOTHING even touched the greatness and ambition of those games.

      Well, bethesda’s games had a bit of that.
      And Deus Ex: HR was a worthy successor at last. Huge fucking exception though.

      • Premium User Badge

        Morph says:

        Yes exactly. I just naturally assumed there were more games like DX and Thief out there. It was completely baffling to find there were none.

        • InternetBatman says:

          This happened to me. The first games I bought were Fallout 2, Unreal Tournament, and Thief. Gaming has frequently been a disappointment since then.

          • Itkovian says:

            My parents bought their first PC just in time for me to play the Thief: The Dark Project demos from a PC Gamer cover disc (that was ‘demos’ plural by the way, Bafford’s and Assassins were both demo levels, in addition to the training – how times changed).

            The first time I had £30 I went straight into Electronics Boutique to buy Thief. They didn’t have it in stock so I had to settle for Half Life. If I did it all again, I’d still walk out of that shop disappointed.

        • TillEulenspiegel says:

          I think by far the strongest example of this was Ultima Online in 1997. Looking back, it seems way way way ahead of its time. If you just read the (monthly?) designer chats from those early years, you see a playerbase eagerly engaged with the complex social and mechanical structure of a pioneering MMO. They were exciting times.

          Nearly all future MMOs have sidestepped all those issues by being highly simplistic hack-and-slash level-and-gear games in the vein of EverQuest. Aside from ATITD, I don’t think we’ve seen a single notable sandbox MMO *without* a heavy emphasis on PvP.

          • jrod says:

            Could not agree more! For me Ultima Online was the best PVP experience of all time and the game I have spent the most hours with ever. Something magical about that game that has not been even approached since.

            Early on the PVP element of the game had some real meaning and substance. Being a “murderer” had serious consequences and overcoming them was an exercise in logistics and resource management. Later it became a fragfest, but early on… man was that magic.

  3. Ergates_Antius says:

    Without risk of hyperbole: Best game I have ever played.

  4. FurryLippedSquid says:

    John’s input there reminded me of a great Dishonoured article by Rab Florence, posted on Eurogamer some time ago. Enjoy.

    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-10-17-lost-humanity-17-dishonour

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    VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    The best game I ever played? I can never quite decide—some days I’d put Thief there, but other days Thief II nabs the spot, nudging Thief to #2. Either way, both games are superlative examples of the art and the craft of games. I doubt we will ever see anything quite like them again.

  6. Justin Keverne says:

    The last image looks like it could be a hallway from Gone Home…

    I love The Metal Age and large parts of Deadly Shadows… I’m sure I would love The Dark Project even more if it wasn’t for the giant spiders that make it impossible for me to complete it… :(

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      I’m quite the arachnophobe in real life, but spiders in games don’t bother me much, such as Skyrim, for example.

      I think the one in Limbo is about the worst I’ve come across, but even then it didn’t stop me playing.

      • Muzman says:

        Neither of you should go anywhere near Dark Messiah. Worst spiders in any game ever. I shit you not.

        • elevown says:

          I totaly agree- most realistic and gross spiders in a game – I could bearly play it lol.

          • dE says:

            Hell, I’ve got no issues with spiders… and I still couldn’t stand them.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Worse than the tarantulas in the caves near the end of Call of Juarez 1?

          • Muzman says:

            Well if I watched the right bit on youtube then yes.
            Juarez’ ones seemed like largish aggressive video game spiders. Bad enough I guess.
            Dark Messiah’s are like beautifully animated huntsman looking things, only about four feet/ 1 and a quarter meters across.
            When you first meet them they’re dangling on webs and running over every surface, including above you, and you think “Yeesh, but that’s probably scripted at least. They’re not going to do that anymore”
            Nope! Any surface is fair game for coming to get your ass.
            They are mind meltingly awful.

          • LionsPhil says:

            CoJ1′s also scuttle over all available surfaces and are kind of just unpleasantly realistically large, but that sounds potentially worse, yes.

            (The one video I found of that section was someone almost just speedrunning past them all, so you don’t really get to see them much. If you’re having to move with the caution of the unknown, this wave of scuttling death will catch up with you more. They even move in horrid little dashes. Ugh.)

  7. edwardoka says:

    Unparalleled. Finest game ever. Looking Glass Studios, you are sorely sorely missed.

  8. Spacewalk says:

    Thiefteen.

  9. scottyjx says:

    Not two days ago, I got the Thief collection for $2.59 (on Greenmangaming), and then this article appears. The stars seem to be aligning for me to right this wicked wrong of having never played these games.

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    strangeloup says:

    I am still vaguely ashamed to say that having consistently owned Thief in one form or another since not too long after it came out, I have never got past the level that has the bloody zombies in it.

    • Itkovian says:

      Ctrl-alt-shift-end (off the top of my head) if you’re desperate. The level after the Bonehoard (Assassins) is a contender for the best in the game for me.

      • Opiniomania says:

        The competition is strong but I have to concur, Assassins is the best one, for too many reasons to list here…

  11. Premium User Badge

    psepho says:

    Happy birthday, Thief!

    I am still only half-way through Thief (I’m on the Haunted Cathedral). I have been slowly edging my way through it over the last few months. Metal Age was one of the games that made me back in the day and it is lovely coming to the City’s earlier iteration for the first time. A very special game.

  12. Lorgath says:

    I must have been about 10 when Thief came out, and it made a destinct impression on me even then. I recall being at an older friend’s house when he was playing the demo. As usual, I was being graciously allowed to watch him play for the most part, but I did manage to have a go myself. It must have been the first time I’d encountered a first person game where the movement of the head was controlled by the movement of the mouse and I was bloody awful at it – I’m sure anyone who has introduced someone new to first person games these days can remember looking on in horror as they flail at the controls (see also: Charlie Brooker/Jon Snow interview), just as my elder friend did then. I can’t have got much further than the little spider cave in Bafford’s Mansion, but the game made it’s mark. I remember writing a story about the game the next day in school, complete with a little drawing of a man with a blackjack and a bow. Of course I forgot about it after a while, yet it must have remained at the back of my mind as a few years later, my gaming skills much improved, I found the non-gold version of Thief in a bargain bin somewhere and fell in love with it all over again… until I found Thief 2 of course.

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    Morph says:

    Kieron’s article is the reason I bought Thief over Half Life (well I only had so much pocket money back then). As great as Half Life is, I made the right choice.

    • Itkovian says:

      Heh – see my comment above. I had the other side of that situation…

  14. fuggles says:

    Do terra nova next! I cannot write enough words about that game.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Still desperately waiting for GoG or similar to re-release Terra Nova. In much the same way as Thief, it should have been just the first of many, and yet there’s really nothing else out there that’s topped it.

      As for Thief itself, I can’t remember anything else, before or since, making me clench my teeth, making me yell or jump, making me hold my breath, making me feel quite as much as it did.
      Except Metal Age, of course.
      And Deadly Shadows was great too. Not as great, but great.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      The companion AI in Terra Nova is unbelievably good. The game itself has some issues, but I still love the hell out of it. In fact, I feel an install coming on…

    • elevown says:

      Tera nova was a fantastic oft overlooked game – maybe not quite up with thief and system shock 2 but worthy of a looking glass game.

      • stele says:

        Agreed. Loved every LG game, even though Terra Nova was very different from their others.

        I can’t really decide between Thief 1/2, DX, or System Shock 1 as my favorite. I hold them all in the highest esteem.

    • Shadowcat says:

      Coincidentally I just finished up a play-through of Terra Nova last night. World War difficulty, and only ever using (for myself) the Scout suit, if possible. The game well and truly kicked my arse for a while in a few missions on those settings (including the final mission, until I managed to formulate and execute a plan), but it’s also pretty fun scooting around in the most nimble PBA when I’d normally be in a Heavy!

      It’s still a great game, and it’s still a crime that there isn’t a more modern equivalent (Tribes Vengeance hits a few of the right notes, but nothing else springs to mind).

    • SomeDuder says:

      I always think that if Terra Nova had been released a few years later, when games offered a few more pixels on screen, it would have seen a much bigger audience. Or hell, a current release – imagine a Terra Nova with Tribes 3 visuals

  15. InternetBatman says:

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the excellent Dark Mod yet. Check it out. It’s the Thief 4 that should have been made.

    • Shadrach says:

      Absolutely – it’s free, and the standalone is very easy to get running. I absolutely love it, lots of very atmospheric missions, good stories, creepy dungeons and crypts.

      Basically, The Dark Mod’s got everything anyone with a hankering of nostalgia for Thief should need.
      Fuck reminiscing, lets do something about it – go play The Dark Mod!

  16. BTAxis says:

    Having played Thief 1 and half of Thief 2, but only fairly recently, I have to say the games didn’t nearly impress me as much as was the case of seemingly everyone else. I suppose it might be because I looked at them from the jaded perspective of the 2010s, but even so I found gameplay to be largely methodical – knock out all the guards one by one, then painstakingly search the level for loot. It was still a fun time even so, but the fact that I couldn’t stick with Thief 2 until the end should tell you enough.

    • Greg Wild says:

      It’s very much one of those games you get more out of if you set house rules for yourself – personally I have to opt for thinking “realistically, could I get away with knocking this guy out for an hour and have no-one notice?” If not, then I have to sneak past.

      You get so much more out of it if you don’t game the guards.

      • Itkovian says:

        Agreed – I play either Thief 1 or 2 every 12 months or so whenever the urge takes me again but always need to set some sort of increasingly harsh restrictions. My most recent session spawned this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ou3G-uBLSA4 – Ironman Perfect Ghost of the Assassins mission. The old forums have a lot of threads of various attempts and the effort put in by some of those guys was insane…

    • fish99 says:

      Not sure it’ll ever be fair to judge a game so long after it’s heyday.

  17. Greg Wild says:

    It is still my go-to choice in “favourite game ever” discussions.

  18. Muzman says:

    Hooray for appropriate celebrations!.
    It’s a game that kind of gets its due but kind of doesn’t. One of those critical darlings that most people think is sub par (the graphics are not sub par btw. That’s what games looked like in ’98. If you think I’m wrong you’ve just forgotten).

    Which kind of makes it worse when I say things like this: The ever trite question of gaming Citizen Kane is at least waning a bit these days. But if it must exist I would formulate it as those games which used their genre to its fullest and broke new ground in achieving its narrative and interactive goals. Fittingly for a medium as varied as games that means there must be a few of these Citizen Kanes.

    Well Thief : The Dark Project is one of them (not Gold, not Thief 2). There is almost no game in existence where story, character, level design, world building, immersion, gameplay and so on are woven together with such subtle depth and, dare I say it, majesty. Really I can’t think of another one that hits all of those markers quite so well (happy to take suggestions).

    If you stumbled around and failed to hit dumb guards in the head you might feel that’s hyperbole. It’s true the impression is better if you like it. But if you endure for a while you start to notice the amount of obscure details and subtle clues built in to everything. It’s restrained in just the right areas to let your (that is player) agency provide the rest. And then when you look, there’s stuff there. This all without miles deep dialogue trees (not that there’s anything wrong with that) or a silent protagonist to make things easy for character development. That combo of artistry and so much agency is extraordinary. In an age where you can’t even open a door in an FPS by yourself it just looks better and better.

    • Pockets says:

      While I agree with most of what you’re saying, the bit about it not looking dated at the time is a bit off. The graphics were always trading on style over technical detail with the 8-bit paletted textures and substantially lower polygon counts than games like Unreal or Half Life, especially when it came to the character models (as well animated as they are, the lack of detail does make them look a bit puppet-like). The only cutting-edge part of it at the time was the detail of the lighting.

      Now the difference between 14,15,16 years old technology seems irrelevant, the focus goes back onto the style rather the technical aspects and that’s why reviews from back in the day considered it graphically unimpressive while it doesn’t look that dated now. Cutting-edge polygon counts or special effects are good for a year but atmosphere is good for decades.

      • Muzman says:

        It isn’t off because Unreal and Half Life were the exceptions, not the norm. Unreal’s character models aren’t especially high poly either. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were the same, or even lower than Thief’s for the most part. Thief’s homebrew mo-cap work just didn’t bend those polys in the most flattering ways all the time.

        I know how gamer consciousness works, particularly back then. Once some new flash graphical tech and/or look comes along everything else is no longer good enough. it doesn’t tell us much about the period a given thing was found in though.

    • Danda says:

      Why Thief: TDP and not Thief Gold?

      I’m asking because Thief Gold is the only one available on GOG or Steam.

      • Muzman says:

        The new levels are a bit of a mixed bag and interfere with the flow and focus of the game somewhat.
        It’s ok. It’s just not as tightly woven anymore in that form so I knock it down a peg.

      • Itkovian says:

        Thief Gold is exactly the same as Thief: TDP except it adds 3 additional levels. The Thieves Guild, Mages Towers and Opera House missions weren’t in the original game. I quite like the latter two although not the biggest fan of the Thieves Guild mission.

        Anyway, if you’re asking because you want to try it, Thief Gold is fine.

      • Shadowcat says:

        One of the many excellent fan-made patches for these games enables you to convert Thief Gold into The Dark Project:
        http://www.ttlg.com/forums/showthread.php?t=140679

        The most recent GOG version messes with this a bit, so pay attention to:
        http://www.ttlg.com/forums/showthread.php?t=140679#post2195706

  19. fish99 says:

    Thief and Thief 2 occupy two spots in my top 5 games ever, along with System Shock 2, Stalker and …. probably Doom 2. Impossible to pick between Thief 2 and System Shock 2 for top spot, they’re both so brilliant. The reason I prefer Thief 2 to TDP is the greater focus on stealth and the higher density of threats in the environments (think the First City Bank level).

    Looking Glass (and Irrational who were ex-LG guys) made games for intelligent people, games that gave you options and engaged your brain, and are pretty much unique in doing so, and ultimately that’s probably why they’re not around anymore (with a bit of piracy thrown in). Would have loved to have seen the real Thief 3 they were making when they went bust.

  20. airtekh says:

    Thief is so incredibly important to me.

    It, along with it’s sequels, are among my favourite games ever. The atmosphere of the City, the rock solid stealth gameplay, and the character of Garrett are all cherished gaming memories of mine.

    Thief is the reason in the last year I have bought games like Dishonored, Mark of the Ninja and Splinter Cell: Blacklist. It introduced me to a new genre, one which has become my favourite, and set the bar by which I measure all other stealth games.

    Such a shame Looking Glass folded, their vision was truly extraordinary. Thankfully though, the spirit of Thief lives on in many games and their communities.

  21. dethtoll says:

    I have a hard time mustering up interest for the Thief games these days. Maybe I’m just burnt out, maybe the wailing and gnashing of teeth over at TTLG’s Thief subforum put me off, maybe I’m just too used to Press X For Hollywood. But I’m not going to deny — I can’t deny — that Thief, despite only having discovered the games slightly less than a decade ago, has had a major, major effect on me. I’m one of those people who liked all three games and accept them all as one coherent whole — I cannot play one without going through all three, and I love every minute of it.

    Thief is one of those seminal series that I think deserved more fame. If nothing else, it might have made Thiefgen a less ridiculous place.

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    DrScuttles says:

    Happy birthday you sneaksie taffer, you. Thief and Thief 2 are on a short list of games that I regularly go back to play time and time again.
    For a while back in the days of coverdiscs and generous demos, my sound card had broken for some reason. Not too much of a problem in most games as you could pretty much muddle through, but this was my first introduction to Thief; a silent demo slowly running around the basement of a mansion being chased by guards not knowing what to do and just getting frustrated at Garrett’s lack of strength. When we got the sound fixed, I tried the demo again and it was night versus day in how perfect, atmospheric and necessary the sound design was.

    • Antistar says:

      Oof. Yeah, I can’t imagine playing Thief without sound. Hell, I can’t imagine trying to play it without surround sound. And without the lights off and gamma set so that dark is really dark.

      I remember a friend at Uni who would play it with a set of two tinny speakers, with all the lights on and the gamma turned up, finger poised over the quickload key in case he was caught. He ostensibly loved the game too, but whenever I saw him playing it I’d be thinking “what are you doing?”.

  23. SuicideKing says:

    I have a question, i’ve never played Thief, and it’s for $2.79 for another two days.

    Thief + Thief II + Thief: Deadly Shadows is on sale for a grand sum of $7.59.

    So, do i get the bundle, or just Thief Gold? As in, are the other games worth it?

    • Itkovian says:

      Thief II is, in my opinion, the best in the series. However, I wouldn’t skip Thief 1 by any means so I would go for the bundle. Thief: DS is definitely not as good as the other two but it does have some excellent moments and if they other two had not existed, I’d probably think it was one of my favourite games.

    • Ich Will says:

      Get the bundle, thief 2 is just as good and 3 trails a little but contains one of the finest levels in any game ever.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Thief Gold is the best overall game, Thief 2 has the best mission in the series, and Thief 3 is underrated. Get ‘em all.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Brilliant, thanks for the advice!

  24. Myrdinn says:

    When I was cold, Thou taught of hearth and roof-beam. When I was hungry, Thou taught of pot and cauldron. When I was beset by foes, Thou taught of spear and shield. Thy hammer pounds the nail, holds the roof-beam. Thy hammer strikes the iron, shapes the cauldron. Thy hammer in my hand, unto my foes.

    • Faxmachinen says:

      Bricky roads they trappers grass,
      stony walls they trappers wind,
      Iron stove it trappers fire.
      Trappers are we by works of hands,
      and forgets us we were ever free.

  25. pilouuuu says:

    Wow, the main character in the illustrations seems to have been the inspiration for the assassins in Assassin’s Creed games.

  26. Michael Fogg says:

    Your favourite Thief 1 & 2 levels, go!

    Thief – The Sword
    T2 – First Bank & Trust

    (optional: T3 – Seaside Mansion)

    • bill says:

      Return to the Cathedral (and also The Sword).

    • Premium User Badge

      DrScuttles says:

      I fear my choices will read as sadly unadventurous, but The Sword, Life Of The Party and The Cradle. There’s not really a bad level in any of them, though Deadly Shadows does suffer for having them split between loading zones.

    • Ich Will says:

      T1: Ramerez’ Mansion – the one where you have to trail the assassins through the town at the beginning.
      Runner Up – Cragscleft – Just wonderful and an ace escape route down the waterslide.
      Notable moments – Bears, The bonehoard -That fucking haunt!, I’m a hammerite honest, Just here shopping for some lock picks…, Hang on how deep under the city is all this, What is wrong with your house!, Victoria is hot…. no no no no no no no ow… my eye!, Is that a dinosaur…. with really bad breath?

      T Gold – The Opera House
      Runner up – Downwinders, gave you some real insight into the criminal underground. Literally!
      Notable moments – The inside of each of the wizards elemental towers.

      T2: First Bank and Trust – Just awesome level design
      Runner Up – The police station – You may not knock anyone out!
      Notable moment(s) – Eyeball flowers, Where?, Garrets house, Knocking out “Garrett”, hang on it’s that deep under the city but were going there in a submarine?, Plumsie taker, that’s a nice bronze face on the wall, is that a stove?

      T3 – Seaside mansion – Just wonderful
      Runner up – The Cradle – So close!!!
      Notable Moments – The sleeptalking guard, wait they can see my shadow?, oooh zombies are back I liked them, sorry you know who i am and what I can do and you’ve banned me from areas of your library… PLease sir I’m hungry.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      The Dark Project – Hard to pick one, because I love ‘em all, and I’d probably go with The Sword if the TG version weren’t better so…The Lost City and Undercover, both of which are fairly unusual for Thief missions. You really can’t go wrong with anything in the game, though, they’re all highlights for me.

      Gold – The Sword (Little/Big World, yay) and Song Of The Caverns

      The Metal Age – Life Of The Party. While I find most of T2 to be incredibly weak/overrated, I think this is the single best mission in the entire series. The version of this mission in the T2 demo is arguably even better (The Unwelcome Guest)

      Deadly Shadows – House Of The Widow Moira, Robbing The Cradle

  27. Yosharian says:

    Thief and System Shock 2 still haven’t been bested. Nothing even comes close.

  28. bill says:

    Still one of the best games ever made. Watching Alec play it actually made me really nostaligic.

    You can add me to the list of people who thought Thief / SS2 / Deus Ex was the start of the future of gaming… and then it never came. (Vampire Bloodlines being the closest, I guess)

  29. Zekiel says:

    I live with the uncomfortable guilt that I do not actually like Thief and Thief 2 that much – but I really, really want to, and I’m really, really glad they exist. I think the world-building is absolutely top-notch – the atmosphere of the cut-scenes, the language, the overheard dialogues, the architecture etc etc. I love the idea of how you play the games, ghosting around, taking out the guards carefully and cleverly and so on. I just don’t have the requisite combination of skills and patience to actually stick at it, so as a result have never finished either game. I regard this as a tragedy.

    For me, Dishonored was therefore a brilliant game, because things like Dark Vision and Blink were essentially cheats that allowed you to be good at a Thief-style game (completely with fantastic world-building, although not quite as good as Thief’s) without actually having to have the patience and/or skill to do it in TDP or Thief 2. I am, however, aware that this always feels something like sacrilege.

    • dogsolitude_uk says:

      Oddly, I felt similarly about HL2 – Loved the setting, storytellnig, level design, I just hate shooters.
      As for thief, it’s the game that got me into gaming, and I love it to pieces, but can understand why it’s not everyone’s cup of chai :)
      So yeah, you don’t have a sacriligious opinion or anything, just a perfectly justified and honest personal opinion. Besides, you like Dishonored, so you found something similar that works well for you, and that’s always a cool thing :)

    • Faxmachinen says:

      Just wing it on normal difficulty. You will feel less like a master thief and more like a clumsy fool, but I guarantee you’ll manage to have fun. Even though I mostly play as an expert ghost purist who quick-loads for any reason, I would still argue that winging it is the best way to play the game, simply because there are more thrills to be had from the daring escapes.

      And I do love that there are so many ways to play the game. If you don’t care much for sneaking, you can play it as a sword-fighting (a.k.a. Dark Camelot) or bow marksman simulator. If you’re a bumbling pacifist, it becomes a game of hide-and-seek. If you lack the patience for that, play it Road Runner style. Or all of the above.

  30. Opiniomania says:

    Let me just say that the world in which Thief would become more influential than Half-Life would be the best of all worlds.

    • fish99 says:

      That’s the shame for me, that Half Life had more of an influence on the future on gaming than Thief or System Shock 2. Half Life, as fun as it was, took the shooter in a more linear scripted direction, and has ultimately lead to the on-rails single player experiences in BF4 and the latest COD.

      Actually probably the biggest shame of all is that Irrational have abandoned their own formula, firstly with the removal of RPG elements (in Bioshock), then losing the hub based levels and backtracking (in Infinite).

      • ResonanceCascade says:

        Other developers may have misinterpreted what made Half-Life great and screwed up the genre, but I don’t think you can blame the Half-Life games themselves. Much like Looking Glass, Valve took a very intellectual and designer-heavy approach to their games. They made a huge effort to think about what the player was doing and why, and to make sure each area was fresh and interesting. They’re also a helluva lot less railroaded than something like COD or Battlefield. You can explore quite a bit in HL1. I remember getting lost for hours when the game first came out.

        But yes, Thief is even better.

        • Opiniomania says:

          I wouldn’t blame HL either, but it is an obvious fact that Valve’s success with a heavily scripted, movie-like experience has inspired more developers than the ‘soft’ approach of Thief. Pity.

        • fish99 says:

          Yeah I’m not blaming Valve or HL itself, more other developers for the particular aspects they took from HL and incorporated into their own games, and of course it’s a trend that’s taken a long time to reach the point it’s at today. I do think though that there was a level design philosophy change from the ‘square’ levels of id software to the ‘line of varying width’ philosophy of Valve where each area has exactly one exit, and the player is always ‘where they are meant to be’.

      • Opiniomania says:

        Yeah, Irrational could have carried the flag but went for a more plot-oriented, and therefore more scripted narrative. And because of the progressive stripping of the RPG features (inventory, skill system, hacking etc.) I expect their next game to be more akin to Bulletstorm than System Shock 2.

        Could Arkane be only hope?! Stay tuned, for the next episode of ‘The Game Rant’! (fade to black, commercials resume…)

        • ResonanceCascade says:

          Help me, Colantonio-Kenobi. You’re my only hope.

  31. int says:

    What the taff?! Happy Birthday to Thief!

    Why was 1998 such a good year for gaming anyway?

  32. FunnyB says:

    I still remember the Hammer prayer to this day…

    “Vigilance is our shield, that protects us from the squalid pest.
    Knowledge us our sword, that carves a path into an enlightened future.”