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.