The Thief franchise is comprised of some of the most acclaimed stealth games released in the last 20 years. Originally pitched as "Thief 4," the most recent game in the series was given a self-titled rebranding, and positioned as a reboot of the collection as a whole.
After a bumpy development period where the game's production exchanged multiple hands, Thief is finally ready for a debut on next-generation consoles as well as Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. So does the reboot present the perfect chance for next generation console owners to give their new machines some overdue work, or has the game's turbulent development proved too much to overcome?
Check out GameSpot's complete Thief coverage
Unfortunately, Thief fails to gain any momentum. In fact, there was nothing I played during my time with it that stood out as memorable. At first I had written it off as a game just getting off to a slow start, but very little ever gets going throughout the campaign. Thief is an exercise in monotony that's occasionally so simple it's insulting. There's very little depth in the game's setting, story or weapon set, and I eventually found myself scoffing at how easy it was to escape a stealth objective that I had just butchered. The game's city is dreary, dark and cold, filled with forgettable characters and unremarkable architecture.
In the game you play as Garrett, a mastermind Thief who wants to steal from the rich. He's a total Robin Hood. The campaign is divided into mostly linear levels that you can occasionally deviate from and sneak into apartments where you can steal bracelets, flasks and other jewelry. You can then trade this in as currency to load up on ammo, health and other items. While pilfering about, you need to open drawer after drawer, trunk after trunk, to find out that you'll only discover loot about a third of the time.
A lot of Thief's gameplay are pages torn out of the book of 2012's Dishonored, but falls short of the intended complements it aims to make. Sure, without the original Thief trilogy there's probably no Dishonored either, but Thief looks and plays like Dishonored was never even released. As hard as it tries, the game fails to hit the high notes that Dishonored so successfully triumphed.
Thief forces the player to stay out of the light most of the time, but it's ridiculous how close you can be to an enemy as long as you're in the shadows. Other times, when the player is faced with a scenario to sneak through, the path to completion is easily discovered using a special vision mechanic that highlights notable objects with a blue tint.
Too much of Thief's gameplay feels redundant and trite. If you've ever played a stealth game before, a lot of it will feel like reruns.
Thief had some massive shoes to fill, but at a time when games need a palette of fresh and unique directions, it falls short in almost every category.
CNET verdict: Sneak past this one
Suffering from boring, uninspired gameplay, Thief is nearly dead on arrival. Plain and simple, it's just not fun to play.