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Stealth / Action






Ion Storm



M (Mature)



May 2004



- Great sneaky stealth action

- Good gadgets and arrows

- Thieving has never been so fun



- Game engine has some bugs



Review: Thief Deadly Shadows (XB)

Review: Splinter Cell - Pandora Tomorrow (XB)

Review: Deus Ex - Invisible War (XB)



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Thief: Deadly Shadows

Score: 8.0 / 10


Back when stealth games were new, Thief took a back seat to more high-profile titles but managed to build up a cult following that made its first sequel a major hit.  Deadly Shadows, therefore, comes to us with a bit more hype than earlier Thief titles something accentuated by the fact that it shares an engine with the recent hit-of-sorts Deus Ex: Invisible War.


thief deadly shadows review           thief deadly shadows review


That engine is the most troublesome aspect of Thief: Deadly Shadows as it shares some of the bugs and onerousness of Invisible War.  Despite having a system a good 50% above the recommended system across the board, Thief: Deadly Shadows featured a good deal of mouse lag and frame drops along with some odd collision detection and some truly weird A.I. behavior.  Despite the technical issues, the game is enjoyable for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the polished to perfection stealth aspect.


In fact, Deadly Shadows is a pure stealth game.  Unlike the Splinter Cell and Tenchu games, Deadly Shadows features a protagonist nearly completely unable to defend himself when he is caught in the act.  Sure, occasionally the player might be able to 




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kill one guard who has discovered Garrett, but usually a swarm of guards appear and Garrett is ill equipped to deal with such odds.

Garret, however, is remarkably well equipped for not getting caught and for thieving, which is a good thing.  I especially liked the water arrows, which are able to extinguish torches from across a room and the noisemaker arrows, which are used to 


distract guards so Garrett can sneak by them.  Garrett is also equipped with a handy set of lock picks that are used interactively to open locked doors and chests.  All of these tools add immensely to the overall feel of the game, and though it is possible to clear levels without using any of the special arrows, the game is a lot more fun when all the cool toys are put to good use.


thief deadly shadows review           thief deadly shadows review


During the missions, Garrett can pocket anything of value that he comes upon.  Between missions, the player can visit the city and sell these items to Garrett's fence.  The money earned this way can be spent in local shops to pick up extra items to aid in the thievery.  This in-between mission stuff, combined with the fact that most levels (other than some pivotal ones near the end) can be completed in a number of different ways, makes the game feel less constrained than the original Thief (and, from what I've read, its sequel).  Still, the levels themselves are much smaller than we've grown to expect in games of this type, so I never felt like I had an overwhelming number of decisions to make, or that I was playing in a fully realized world.  In the end, Thief: Deadly Shadows is a good time.


Players will be forced to deal with an engine that still lacks polish, but the level-to-level game play is intriguing and puzzle-like.  Strangely, the game that I've played lately that Thief: Deadly Shadows reminds me of most is the cell-phone version of Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow.  The actual details couldn't be more dissimilar, but both games had small levels that were easy to screw up, but quick to replay, so it was a simple matter to restart a level and try a different approach until the correct one was found.


Fans of the series will not be disappointed with Thief: Deadly Shadows and fans of the genre will probably like it also.  When the engine isn't being buggy, the game is quite gorgeous and some of the levels are just a blast to play.  I had hoped for a little more polish and a bit more innovation, but, still, Thief: Deadly Shadows does a lot of the little stuff right.


- Tolen Dante

(August 23, 2004)


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