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March 5, 2014
Thief - PS4 Review
Release Distributer Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
27/2/2014BandaiNamcoSquare-EnixEidos Montreal1None
Media HDD Install Resolution Touchpad PS4 Exclusive OFLC Rating

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Thief makes great use of light and shadow.
Eidos' Thief franchise has a very loyal following but it has been a decade since we saw Thief 3 on the PC and XBox and almost five years since this fourth game was first announced as Thief 4. Of course the number has since been dropped and this is regarded as a reboot of the franchise of sorts. As one of the first, and very few games, released since the PS4 launch in November there are a lot of franchise fans, and PS4 owners, keen to check out this game. But what's it about?

Garrett, the Master Thief, steps out of the shadows into the City. In this treacherous place, where the Baronís Watch spreads a rising tide of fear and oppression, his skills are the only things he can trust. Even the most cautious citizens and their best-guarded possessions are not safe from his reach.

As an uprising emerges, Garrett finds himself entangled in growing layers of conflict. Lead by Orion, the voice of the people, the tyrannized citizens will do everything they can to claim back the City from the Baronís grasp. The revolution is inevitable. If Garrett doesnít get involved, the streets will run red with blood and the City will tear itself apart.

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Managing to find, and steal, a mask in Thief.
So Thief is a first person stealthy action game with the occasional switch to a third person perspective for traversing ledges and so on. As Garrett you have a range of weapons and tools at your disposal including a bow with different arrows (including water arrows to extinguish flames, fire arrows to create fires, blunt arrows to cause distractions or kill birds that may alert guards), lockpicks, health packs and flowers to restore Garrett's focus meter (more on that soon). Sadly there's no way to equip a weapon such a sword or knife to take out guards - yar, we're not always looking for the stealthy option!

After an introductory Prologue mission which gives you the basic skills required to get into the game it's into the main game which is comprised of 8 main missions, each of which allows exploration and side quests. It's not acually a very long game if you rush through it but Thief, as the title suggest, is about finding valuables and racking up the rewards and these valuables are littered all over the levels, locked in drawers with simple locks to pick, or in much more harder safes which may require some puzzle solving to get open by finding clues.

Assisting Garrett in his quest is a "Focus" ability allows Garrett to discover treasures and items of interest throughout the game world. Items of interest in the rooms are highlighted in blue but not only include valuable items, but also points where Garrett can climb such as ladders, ropes or walls, as well as other items of interest.

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Despite a stealth focus, there is action.
Playstation 4 owners have an added bonus with the Dual Shock 4 controller touchpad with the game setting up a 4x2 grid with various weapons and items allowing you to quickly select items during the game. It would have been nice to have a little icon displaying where you are currently touching the pad as I got lost the first few times, but it works pretty well after practice and soon becomes second nature and preferred over the typical selection wheel on other versions. The Dual Shock 4's light bar is also moderately useful and changes to white when you're visible in light.

Sadly for the many moments of brilliance, there are just as many disappointments with Thief. We actually found the levels somewhat confusing in their design with plenty of dead ends, and far too many doors which you can't open or pick locks on although, somewhat fortunately, those doors don't have handles so are easy to spot. Still, there were plenty of occasions that we got lost on the way to the next marker - a better map system or directional system would have been appreciated.

We were also pretty surprised that unlike most games you don't really get new equipment over time. The game gives you almost all weapons and tools within the first hour of the game which often leaves you overwhelmend, but also means you never get a chance to slowly be introduced to the new tools - in the end we pretty much used the water arrows to extinguish flames more then anything else and stuck to it.

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Ready to take out an enemy in Thief (2014).
One thing we did find after playing throught he missions is that there was too much collecting required. Sure, you're a thief, and you can leave items behind as you explore however by doing so you may not have enough to buy items and upgrades required to progress effectively. Each of the missions contains dozens of items to collect, but these items are often hidden in cupboards, drawers or chests requiring lock picking and plenty of exploration. It's fun for a while, but becomes a little tedius.

Finally we have to question the 22GB install for the game - that's a pretty hefty chunk of Hard Drive space and one of the larger game installs on PS4 - but it seems almost all games coming to next-gen consoles need the entire games to be installed. Perhaps, with time, games will be able to store and stream most assets from the Blu-Ray or at least only load parts of the game as required.

As we mentioned in our preview there is no multiplayer in this game which seems like a big missed opportunity in our books as we could think of several modes seeing 2 or 4-players racing to reach a treasure first. As director Nicolas Cantin stated "Multiplayer didnít respect the DNA of a Thief game. Itís a single-player experience; Garrett is a loner, and ignoring that would be moving too far away from what our game should be." Hmmm... we disagree, although given the state of the main campaign it was probably a good thing not to move some of the development team to a multiplayer mode - then again, perhaps the game could have been delayed for more spit and polish anyway.

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This game has some nice looking environments.
Running on Unreal Engine 3 Thief has some visually impressive moments (although that's more to do with the art design then a technical level), but this isn't really what we expect from a next-gen title (perhaps it has been hamstrung by the need to run on PS3 and XBox 360 as well). Having said that the levels are quite large and open with multiple paths often available to the intended target while the game does make good use of light and shadows. Character models are generally acceptable but on close inspection - or during cut scenes - it's clear they aren't up to the best in the industry.

Thief also throws up some interesting aspects for next-generation consoles. While the PS4 version of the game runs at full 1080p resolution the XBox One version suffers yet again at a lower 1600 x 900 resolution - or only 70% the resolution on Sony's system - however even with the game running on the older Unreal Engine 3 (Unreal Engine 4 is available for next-gen consoles with the first games using Epic's new engine due very soon) the game struggles to sustain a rock solid 30fps with occasional dips and glitches noticed throughout the course of the game.

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Is that a Ninja!? Ermm, no.
As with the graphics, the audio in this title is functional, occasionally good, but often falls short of what we expect. Indeed the dialogue isn't the best we've heard in a video game, in fact it borders on quite dull at times with Garrett, voiced by Romano Orzari, sounding rather flat, uninteresting and just meh. He certainly doesn't have the charisma that one would expect from such an iconic character. Other characters too range from decent to dull and for a big title such as this and a reboot of a franchise it ceratinly is a bit of a let down.

There were some instances too when the audio dropped out or hit some glitches. At one point Garrett was moving along a ledge which breaks away and crashes to the ground below - but there was no sound. In another instance we walked passed a window with a couple talking inside - their audio looped after every two lines of dialogue.

Despite being a moderate PC gamer as well as console, Thief is a franchise I never sunk my teeth into so can't compare this title to the originals. As a newcomer we enjoyed this game for the most part, but it isn't as polished, nor as next-generation as we expected. Still, it's not a terrible game and if stealthy action is your thing then it's probably worth checking out.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSWhile the game is on PS4, it really struggles to look next-gen despite the resolution bump.
SOUNDSome pretty effects and music but the dialogue isn't delivered with style. It's not super polished and occasional glitches.
GAMEPLAYIt's stealthy, open-world styled thieving with a decent story that kicks into gear after a few missions.
VALUEIt's not very long - hell, there's even a trophy for taking over 15 hours to complete the game - and technically not the best game which removes those next-gen jaw-dropping moments. Some replay value to improve mission scores and a challenge mode but no multiplayer.
OVERALLThief isn't the great franchise reboot we expected, or we saw with Tomb Raider recently, but if you're after a stealth focused it's not too bad.

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