Tag Archives: review

Review: Thief (2014)

Thief - the game
Thief (2014)

Thief is a stealth game. Sneaking around stealing stuff while avoiding traps, guards, dogs, birds and more.

These elements are very well implemented in a world that is both immersive and beautiful. The game mechanics are well thought out it is close to frustration free with one exception, jumping on to ropes. It is not difficult but sometimes you curse the person who thought that context sensitive controls would be a good thing.

This is a single player game, so one of the most important things is the story being told.In Thief you play Garret, a master thief. Who has just returned to the city after a years absence (a year from which he remembers nothing) and meets up with his old partner and resumes thieving, shortly however the story takes a turn. The story itself is not so impressive, but the locations the story unfolds makes you invested as they reveal more and more about themselves. This also serves as a motivation to explore more nooks and crannies. On of my favorite locations in the game is the abandoned mental institution.. finding doctors- and nurses notes, diaries reading them makes the place come alive.

So helped by the locations, environment, ambiance and the vast number of NPC dialogue you can overhear it props up the story by making you focus more on the world you are immersed in rather than solely on the story line.

However, side missions in this game feels thoroughly disconnected, there are no real interactions or responses from NPCs’ after completed jobs. And where locations in the story line are both impressive and encourages explorations, the side missions are quite the opposite. They feel unrewarding to complete (other than gold to purchase more resources, there is none) The exception to this is the pre-order/DLC bonus mission, which is massive, fun and rewarding to play through.

A note however on navigating the city, the map is close to useless (close, but not quite.) You navigate the city through a hub system traversing between these hubs via windows, alleyways and rooftops. But you only get map info on the current hub you occupy, and the info is sparse (mission location, location of main NPCs’ and two main merchants). Sparse is fine in a stealth game, but once I have discovered a merchant it would be nice if at least that would be marked on the map. What would have solved this would be to have the option to make notes on the city map yourself. But I suspect since this is a console port this would require some work on the PC side. It is also quite annoying not to have transition points between hubs/districts marked once discovered. There are also no signs other than street names. So navigating is a bit of a chore at times, but after a while you sort of figure it out.

When it comes to difficulty there is a custom difficulty setting where you can turn on / off different helpers, functions and even powers (focus) more difficult = more points in a ranking system. This is a nod to those hard core Thief fans who worried that this game would dilute the Thief franchise. This of course in addition to the standard easy – medium . hard settings.

PC port, good… very good all the options (and then some) you could wish for. Graphic options are plentiful. Only remark here is lack of Mantle Support and TrueAudio on launch. As this was one of the games demoed by AMD to have this it slightly disappointing, but this should not have a bearing on the game itself. This is only an issue if you just want a game to test Mantle and TrueAudio.

So far this is all good, mostly. I have mentioned the story being weak but supported by the locations you visit makes you not notice it, well there is two locations that falls short and makes the weak storyline shine through.

The Barons Mansion (upper):

This is an impressive looking location, and the approach (though short) and entry points are quite fun. But once you are in the mansion it becomes more of a chore to play through. It does not help that this a massive location to search (and loot) with few rewards for exploration other than collectible loot and gold. Nor does it help that after exploring most of it you must go through it again with a fresh set (even if you knocked out/killed the original ones) Even though you know the shortcuts by now it just seems like a chore.

The Old Cathedral / Pit / Hidden City:

(all viewed as one, because once you enter/approach the old cathedral you are committed unable to return to the city)

Again, the approach is short and fun, but getting in and going down the pits is quite boring, relying on the player getting entertainment from just sneaking (or killing/knocking out) past unsuspecting guard without adding anything to the story in any way (NPC conversations, environment or interactions)

And then there is the ending, I can’t say much about it without spoiling it, but it would be appropriate to compare it to Mass Effect 3’s ending (pre-DLC) it leaves much to be desired, also the last segment gameplay is boring and frustrating (not bugged or broken)

Note: My play through was on the Thief difficulty setting (medium) and took just under 20 hours to complete (some side missions completed but almost no client jobs completed)

Conclusion: Gameplay is awesome, locations vary in quality, and a weak-ish storyline… that leaves us with a stealth game where the developer seems to have thought that sneaking around in itself should be reward enough in gameplay to keep the player going.

I would not recommend buying this at full retail, wait until it is on sale on steam (or other outlet) The exception being if you are a Thief fan and just want to sneak.

Review: Dead Space 3

Published on: Feb 11, 2013 – Updated 23/01-2013

Please read this first: Dead Space 3 + The Awakening (an update)

This will be a review of Dead Space 3. As such if you have not played Dead Space 1 and 2 there will be spoilers, also why have you not played them ?

First off, I have played through Dead Space 3 on PC on hard difficulty, this review is based on that experience.

Secondly, a bit of background. The Dead Space series is a sci-fi survival horror game, Dead Space 1 introduced us to Isaac Clarke, an engineer who is one of the crew responding to a Mayday call from the USG Isimura. Horror ensues, frantic combat and scary stuff. The isolation is driven home by very few interactions with other NPC’s in the game, and the ambiance is well creepy. Take the haunting rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Litte Star.

The setting is brilliant, the audio the details in the environment adds to the suspense. The key here is that there might not be encounters with monsters that often, but you never let yourself believe that becuase there is always some noise of something or something sinister written on the walls that keeps your guard up, and still you get freaked out when something appears. This is what makes Dead Space 1 a great game. So onward…

Moving on to Dead Space 2 we again assume our role as Isaac Clarke, this game is still quite creepy, but there are now some action sequences going as well. But still very good, the lack of resources such as ammunition, health packs and upgrade components is still present, managing and conserving them is vital on anything other than the casual difficulty and this adds to the horror and scary aspect. Picture this..Monster pops up, and you frantically shoot it dead then relieved that you not only survived the encounter but it didn’t even get close…suddenly it you realise.. how many shots did I just waste …. crap. Sometimes this might acually not only tempt you to reload a previous save, but actually get you to do it. The story line still holds, and we get deeper into the Unitology religion  (think Scientology of the future, with guns) and their link to the Markers.

Dead Space 3, The Review:

Update 23/01/2013:

While I still stand by most of my review, I have since replayed the game including the DLC. read the following section of the review with this in mind: When I first played through the game I expected a horror survival game with strong emphasis on character development, and I reviewed it as such. What I should have done was to take a breath and step back… realize it has evolved into a action survival rather than horror survival. In addition the DLC adds sufficiently to the story line (it should not have been a DLC but rather included in the game as it is the true ending of this installment of Dead Space)

So, I still think that Isaac Clark character development was not to my taste, for reasons listed below, also the scary / creepy still holds, but as mentioned this is an action survival game, so I should not have been so harsh.

Updated conclusion is: Dead Space 3 + Dead Space 3: The Awakening is well worth its purchase price, the time and effort you will put into it without question. But do not expect to be to scared or terrified by the experience.

end of update, original review follows:

Dead Space 3 takes place sometime after the conclusion of Dead Space 2, Isaac Clarke  has now gone from the mentally unstable Isaac to the pathetic apathy Isaac. It seems that they (story writers) tried make it him appear as someone who honestly believe he has done enough to help others, that it is time for someone else to face the madness of the markers. Which if they had pulled off, would be awesome and great for the story, but what they instead achieved is portraying Isaac as a person who just lets people walk all over him, without as much as a comment. He should atleast have some anger issues, possibly some psychotic flashbacks as he did in Dead Space 2. But no, he is now reduced to a whimpering  pathetic shell of his former self, even his rage outbursts seems lackluster.

The storyline itself is not quite up to par with the two previous games, it feels forced and quite unbelievable, at certain points something magically appears and solves a puzzle that propels you to the next stage of the story. It is not all bad, but is seems patched together from several fragmented ideas on how the story should continue onwards from Dead Space 2. And rather than sticking to one of those ideas, they where all put in a blender and out of that came the finished storyline to Dead Space 3.

Combat, Horror and Creepy;

There is more combat and enemy encounters in Dead Space 3 than in the two previous games put together I think. The combat is still quite entertaining and good. The plasma cutter is still the baddest weapon in town space, with the possible exception of my line-gun shotgun combo. But I get ahead of myself, In the two previous games you could equip 4 different weapons, now that is reduced to two. But you can craft dual weapons, two weapons it works great. You have a long range primary, add a shotgun barrel under it for those pesky critters that somehow managed to creep up on you. So weapons are still good. Mind you though, there is a classic mode where you are restricted to the classic (duh) weapons of Dead Space 1 (and 2 I think) just if you want that extra bit of nostalgic feel to your experience.

However good the combat, weapons and crafting of such is; Dead Space 3 lacks the same horror feeling, it doesn’t even feel creepy. Don’t get me wrong there is still a few moments of “F%&¤K THIS S%&t  DIE DIE you stupid piece of… get it off get it off” But they are not as abundant as in the previous games, neither is the suspense, it is almost entirely gone, you still peek around the corners in the corridors but that is more out of habit from playing the previous games than anything else.

The final verdict, it is a good game, not as good as the previous two, not as good as it could have been. But still interesting enough to warrant a recommendation, but please play Dead Space 1 and perhaps 2 first so you get the full horror and scary experience.