Thief: Deadly Shadows is the final installment of the original trilogy of Thief games. It runs on a new engine from the previous two games, and so things work a little differently, this time around.
The first thing you'll probably notice is the updated graphics, and the second is the fidgety movement. Deadly Shadows has the ability to be played from a third-person perspective, but unlike, say, Oblivion, it seems as though the third-person control was built *first*. As a result, Garrett jitters a bit when starting and stopping movement, and you can see your hands and legs as they actually are, and not, like with many first-person games, as two sets of limbs apparently growing directly out of your face. Of course, you get used to this after a couple missions, though you won't necessarily get used to occasionally seeing things in your hands at the side of your screen when you turn too quickly.
I jumped several times when carrying bodies, all the way from the first mission to the last.
There are ten missions this time around, as opposed to Thief Gold and Thief II's fifteen a piece. To make up for this, The City serves as a free-roamy hub area where you can thief around for additional loot, sell whatever loot you're carrying, and buy supplies for future missions. There are also main story objectives to complete, along with optional side quests should you seek them. Missions themselves are shorter, owing to the smaller level designs - undoubtedly a result of the engine change and graphical makeover. The relatively small levels are then chopped into even smaller segments with load screens in the middle. While it's, again, something you'll easily get used to, it does occasionally make building layouts seem a bit odd when thought of as a whole.
The enemy AI has been improved. Guards will notice bloodstains on the floor, doors which should or shouldn't be open, and other guards missing from their posts. On normal difficulty, however, Deadly Shadows is much easier than Thief II (which was, in turn, far easier than Thief Gold). Series veterans looking for a challenge will absolutely want to play through on hard or expert. The difficulty of levels never really increases much over the course of the game (indeed, the toughest level for me was the third or fourth one I played). Though later in the game the hub world does take a couple difficulty spikes, by the final third I was carrying the maximum amount of all available equipment, with more than enough cash left over to replace anything I might use by the end.
Speaking of the end, all difficulty aside, the finale felt appropriate enough to earn a mention, here. The final level is a perfect fit for a game about burglary, and the final sequence is a perfect fit for this specific game about burglary. Even the ending cutscene wraps the series up nicely, allowing me to walk away feeling very pleased with my time spent with the series as a whole.
There are some other notable differences, here and there. There are now factions, so you can ally yourself with or against the Pagans and/or Hammerites. Levels now have loot-collecting requirements based on the difficulty you are playing on. Darkness is blueish, rather than stark black, so you can see what you're doing easier. Also it looks prettier, if you're into that (especially with the shafts of moonlight which pour in from any window they can). Lockpicking is now a little more involving. You have to get closer to knock people out, now. Stabbing requires closer quarters, as well, as Garrett now carries a dagger instead of a sword. And there's now a large emphasis on the Keepers' use of glyphs, which seem a little out of place when there was no mention of them even being a thing in previous installments.
The differences take some getting used to, but I urge you to keep playing until you do. Thief: Deadly Shadows is a worthy addition to the franchise, and once you're steady on your thief legs it's every bit as fun as the previous games. So get settled in, plug in your favorite pair of headphones, and let's take a walk on the Thief side.
Posted: November 10th, 2013