Thief: The Dark Project

Reviewed by: Doug Reed, send e-mail
Published by: Looking Glass Studios, go to the web site
Requires: P-200 (w/o a 3D card) or P-166 (w/ 3D card), 32MB RAM, Win 95/98, 4x CDROM, 60 MB Hard drive space
MSRP: US$49.95

Star Trek Bridge Commander is the first comprehensive space simulation set in the Next Generation universe and it puts you in command of your own Starfleet starship and crew. Are you ready to take the Con? Totally Games, the developer, claims to be taking us where no one has gone before. Now where have I heard that line before? Just kidding. Star Trek Bridge Commander has been designed to integrate all elements of starship internal & external controls/systems, navigation, battle and armaments and even some crew relationships.

Thief: The Dark Project is a first-person role-playing game (RPG) created by Looking Glass, the same company that produced System Shock and the Ultima Underworld series (also successful first-person RPGs). I stress the term RPG here rather than call Thief a first- person shooter (FPS a la Quake II) because if you approach Thief as an action game you are in for a big disappointment. In this game you play a thief, and your weapons are restricted to those of a true thief from the middle ages - bow, blackjack and sword. Your attacks are best executed from behind and you have to move quickly and silently. If a guard cries out, all is lost. Looking Glass has wrapped this premise with a compelling story line and beautifully eerie and dark graphics, creating an incredible experience (I can hardly call it a game, for to compare it to Monopoly does justice to neither). If you want to experience true role-playing as it was envisioned with the first release of Dungeons & Dragons back in the 70s, Thief is as close as you can get with a PC.

The story is told through mostly static cut-scenes, rather than movies or live-action, but this makes it even more compelling and adds to the medieval feel. You are Garrett, a former Keeper who has turned his talents towards robbery. The game features a total of twelve missions, seemingly not very many but then again the missions are all fairly long. At least initially, your goal is to steal jewels and money from fat merchants to fill your own treasure chest. Naturally, this involves quite a bit of sneaking about, and you will quickly become a master at sneaking around in the shadows. Light and sound, therefore, play an integral part in the game. Looking Glass apparently understood this very well, because the game looks and sounds fantastic. I doubt seriously that I've seen a better looking first-person game, and I've played almost all of them. The feeling of being in a medieval setting is very strong.

The interface can be broken down into two parts, the heads-up- display (HUD) and the keyboard. The HUD displays your health, any objects you are currently using or carrying (including weapons), air supply (should you find yourself swimming) and a visibility gem. The visibility gem is a summation of the sound you are making combined with how visible you are; the brighter the gem the easier guards can see you. The keyboard layout is one of the most intricate and extensive of any first-person game, rivaling that of many flight simulators. Because moving and turning, you can lean around corners. Your talents include picking locks, setting flash bombs, and laying down mines. A variety of potions can improve your health, and you also have a wide variety of arrows for your bow. The only bad part of the interface is that while you can use the mouse, joystick support is very poor (it can only function in a manner similar to a mouse). So my poor Assassin 3D/Sidewinder Pro combo sat unused while I did my review - which is too bad, because Thief really cries out for joysticks like the Assassin, with multiple buttons. Ah well.

The game will astound you with the amount of detail and thought that went into the story. For example, to start the game you proceed through 'training' that teaches you how to stay in shadows, minimize the noise you make, and use your bow and sword. But the game really shows its depth in the first mission. You are attempting to break into the house of a merchant and steal a valuable trinket. To get in, you have to sneak around to the well house, knock out the guard (without raising an alarm) and use his key to get into the well house and through the underground entrance into the merchant's house. Sneaking around behind the guard isn't much of a problem (he's drunk) and knocking him out isn't terribly difficult. You can then easily remove the key and get into the well house. But what about the unconscious guard? If you leave him sprawled in the street, someone might see him and raise the alarm! So Looking Glass put this into the game - leave that unconscious guard there and the alarm could be raised. Instead, you can pick up the guard and move his body out of sight. Of course, the fact that he is missing might be enough to raise the alarm...You get the idea, I hope - Thief is a wonderfully intricate game.

Cons: Poor joystick support. Keyboard chart that rivals that of most flight simulators.

Pros: Beautiful graphics and well-executed sound, crucial to the premise of the game. Engaging story line and eerie environment make for an extremely compelling role-playing experience. A novel approach to the first person genre where being quiet and smart takes a front-seat to the mayhem.

Letters to the Editor are welcome and occasionally abused in public. Send e-mail to:




© Copyright 2000-2006 All rights reserved. legal notice
home | previous reviews | forums | about us | search | store | subscribe


Forums Home Previous Reviews About Us Store Subscribe Search