Thief: Deadly Shadows is the third installment in the Thief line of games, the first two of which were also published by Eidos but developed by Looking Glass games, which has since gone under. Fortunately, Ion Storm and Eidos felt that the franchise deserved another shot, so Ion acquired much of the Looking Glass talent that made the first two games and started in a third title, which Eidos agreed to publish.
A great deal of excitement was built up around the game, after all, it merged the minds that made Deus Ex with those from Looking Glass. Plus, after all these years, Thief would finally have a state of the art graphics engine. What could be better?
Of course, with the mixed reception that Deus Ex: Invisible War received, there were concerns that Thief would also be Xboxized, with graphics and level sizes pared down to run on inferior console hardware. Gamers worried that key features would be removed or simplified to permit our slack-jawed console cousins a chance of understanding. Naturally, in the face of games like Splinter Cell, these concerns seem unfounded, but concern remained. A download in excess of 400MB can completely turn off those who were unsure about the game in the first place - but rest assured, the demo is
For starters, it is absolutely uncanny how close the feel of Deadly Shadows is to its two predecessors, given that the game engines used are wildly different and the development team has changed a great deal since. The way Garrett walks, sneaks and creeps by - his jerky, deliberate movements - haven't changed a bit. He can crouch like he has always, and can also climb onto low-hanging ledges and over crates now. Finally, Ion Storm has included a feature where Garrett can press up against the wall in order to hide better or take a look around the corner with the new 3rd person point of view.
The 3rd person point of view was one of the biggest concerns I had with the game. I saw Thief for the first time at NVIDIA Editor's Day 2004 and my impressions were actually quite disappointing. However, rather than comment out of hand on a game I hadn't played yet, I held back and waited for the demo. First of all, the 3rd person point of view doesn't really affect gameplay or immersion all that much - it's not my preferred view but it also isn't a jarring experience. Furthermore, there was no hint of any situation in the demo where 3rd person was necessary or at least a major benefit, at no time did I feel compelled to switch to it from first-person.