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PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Winner of Square Enix’s Thief: Gold modding competition announced, is a cool Dark Mod level">The Dark Mod

Confession: I was initially dubious about Square Enix's old-school Thief modding contest. It seemed, at the time, like a somewhat cynical attempt at getting Thief's fan-base on-side. In practice, of course, the reasons are less important than the fact it highlighted some exceptional work from a dedicated community. The Dark Mod is an excellent game that neatly captures the feeling of the original Thief series, and so it's fitting that one of its more recent missions has been named as the competition's winner.

Requiem was first released in October of last year, soon after The Dark Mod was re-released as a standalone game.

"In Requiem you step into the shoes of Bolen, a thief living in a sprawling medieval city," explains its creator. "As the game starts, your most reliable fence has just sent you an urgent note telling you to come over to his house. You have no idea what he has in store, but with the sun setting it sounds like you might be in for an interesting night."

A recent update to The Dark Mod blog reveals that, not only is a new 2.02 update incoming, but that Requiem creator Gelo "Moonbo" Fleisher is working on a follow-up. "I've also been hard at work making a two-part sequel to Requiem," Moonbo writes in a blog update. "The first part is fully done, and the second part is well underway." You can see a preview screenshot of that episode below, and find more Dark Mod missions here.

PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Thief’s Mantle update incoming on March 18th">Thief

So far, the only real world example of AMD s new graphics API, Mantle, is some less-than-convincing performance in Battlefield 4. Now though, AMD have teamed up with Eidos and are set to release a new update to the latest Thief game, wrestling it away from the Microsoft clutches of DirectX and giving it some Mantle lovin'.

For the uninitiated Mantle is a rival graphics layer AMD have created to replace DirectX on their Graphics Core Next graphics cards. Its promise is of giving developers much closer access to the hardware they re coding for, and reducing the processor overheads that have recently become synonymous with Microsoft s API.

Unfortunately, while the Battlefield 4 update did offer some boosts, it did so at the cost of smooth performance. It raised the average frame rate on AMD cards, but slashed the minimum frame rate, leading to choppy war-based gaming.

While BF4 is the only real-world example of what Mantle can do so far, Oxide Games Nitrous Engine, shown via the Star Swarm demo, is a great indicator of what a game engine can do when it s been created with Mantle in mind from the get-go.

So far the Star Swarm demo has been the best example of Mantle in action

Mantle performance in Star Swarm is far in advance of what the DirectX 11 version can do at the same system settings.

Fingers-crossed the new update to Thief leans more towards Star Swarm than Battlefield 4, and we start to see some serious improvements to Eidos game running on middle-order hardware.

Alongside the March 18th release of the Mantle update for Thief, AMD and Eidos are also releasing the first TrueAudio update for any game in the market. TrueAudio utilises the compute power in the graphics card to offload intensive audio effects from the CPU, which should give richer sounds to games.

In addition to making the game run quicker on AMD graphics cards with Mantle, it should also sound more realistic on them too. We'll see if this really is a game-changer tomorrow.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Thief speedrunner shows what it takes to get a top score">Thief 2014-image

Speedrunning a game like the new Thief sometimes means knowing when to slow down. Youtuber prenatual has set a pretty high standard with the complete playthrough documented above, a two-hour, 1300-point custom speedrun with no kills, alerts, or knockouts.

As we heard in advance of its release, Thief lets players craft some fiendishly difficult and complex custom requirements for different playthroughs. Each of the difficulty settings is assigned a point value which adds up to a final score once the game is completed. Thief's in-game leaderboards then rank these custom game finishes based on this final score as well as how quickly the score was achieved after the game's release at the end of last month.

Prenatual's speedrun includes the Iron Man setting, where any death or failed mission causes the entire game to restart and also doesn't see Garrett make use of extra tools such as the wrench or wire cutters to open up new paths. It's a unique achievement, but also one that could grind on a person a bit, as prenatual mentions in the video's comment section.

"It took me much longer than I expected while being not particularly hard and, frankly, wasn't a very enjoyable experience," prenatual writes. "The ghost playstyle requires that you don't interact with the environment or enemies in any way whatsoever, so most of the time the sneaking boiled down to finding holes in enemies' patrols and swooping past everyone. No distractions or anything fancy."

Still, as an artifact of the way players create game experiences that sit decidedly outside the norm, it's fantastic. The video description includes more commentary from prenatual on some of the issues that come up when speedrunning the new Thief, as well as links to highlights throughout the video and a look at the the stats page at the end. Since the video does show the complete story, the usual spoiler warnings apply.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to New Tangiers screenshots show off gorgeous, DADAist world">Tangiers

Tangiers is one of the most bizarre, interesting looking games to come along in ages, and new screenshots show that strangeness is turned right up to 11 and stapled there. Inspired by DADAist art, Tangiers revels in the off-the-wall weirdness of its environments and after years of gray/brown military shooters, the truly strange and beautiful is quite a breath of fresh air.

The game, which was Kickstarted last year and Greenlit in January, promises stealth gameplay inspired by Thief. Instead of a vaguely Steampunky city-scape, however, Tangiers is set in a surrealist artwork world where you can "collect... discarded conversations, hurling words down the street to distract your enemies, to give you a split second to slip past." Stealth based action not restricted by the (mostly) logical conventions of ninjas or NSA super spies? Yes, please.

In a short blog post, developer Andalusian Games says that Tangiers has hit the feature complete milestone, and that we can expect a new trailer in the next week. Until then, bask in the soft glow of...what is that? Is that a toddler s car seat on a noose? Man, this game is weird.

Check out its website for more updates. See the rest of the new screenshots below.

PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Thief Gold: 3840×2160 screenshots from the LPC">thiefgold-teaser

Thief is back. We've played the reboot from Eidos Montreal and seen what Thief looks like in 2014. But what does the original Thief, released in 1998, look like today? We decided to find out.

With the right mod installed, a modern PC can easily run the classic 1999 version of Thief, Thief Gold, at 1080p. But we played Thief Gold on the Large Pixel Collider, which is never satisfied with 1080p. The LPC worked its pixel-pushing magic to render Thief at 3840x2160, and we took a ton of screenshots along the way. This is The City sharper and higher-res than you've ever seen it before.

How to play Thief at high resolution

You can download Thief from GOG.com or Steam. We used GOG to play a version of Thief Gold running on NewDark, a modified version of Thief's Dark Engine, which happily runs on Windows 7 and Windows 8 and supports HD widescreen resolutions. GOG's installer comes with NewDark preinstalled. Aside from NewDark's engine fixes, Thief will look a whole lot like it did in 1998.

If you own the classic Thief games on Steam, check out the TFix patch, which includes NewDark and a host of graphical updates like improved character models and dozens of texture changes. We decided to keep things pure while we played, sticking with the old textures but running the game at a much higher resolution.

The LPC handled Thief Gold at 3840x2160 with ease thanks to a technique called downsampling. By creating a custom resolution in Nvidia's control panel, we pushed a 1080p monitor beyond its normal limits. You can follow a guide, like the one above, to try out downsampling yourself, but it can be finicky your video card, cabling and monitor combo will affect how well it works.

Ready for a return trip to The City's shadowy streets? Make sure to click on the screenshots below for the uncompressed, full resolution 10MB images.

For more classic game screenshots at ludicrously high resolutions, check out our gallery for Tomb Raider. Head to lpc.pcgamer.com for more from our irresponsibly powerful gaming PC, including 1440p gameplay videos, system specs, and a making-of video in which we build the Large Pixel Collider with a hand from Digital Storm.

PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Thief gameplay video: maxed settings at 2560×1440 on LPC">thief LPC

The Large Pixel Collider our "ridiculously overpowered because we can" super machine considered mining Bitcoin for a while, but with that mountain crumbling, it's taken to indiscriminately swiping shiny objects in Thief. We sneaked into its clock tower lair to capture some video at 1440p with the settings cranked as high as they go.

We built the LPC with help from Digital Storm to record super high-end video like this one. So far, we've hit the Titanfall beta, Max Payne 3, Metro: Last Light, and Arma 3. There's much more to come drop suggestions in the comments!
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Now playing: watch Chris start his Thief Iron Man playthrough">Thief bowsplode

Thief has a brilliant options menu. Visual aids like loot-glint, objective markers and object highlighting can be disabled for a score multiplier. You can even turn off Garrett's new "focus" mode, and guard alert indicators, and then turn the whole thing into a sneaky roguelike by activating Iron Man mode. Die, or fail an objective, and the whole run comes to an end. Sounds like a perfect challenge for our Thief reviewer, Chris Thursten, who streamed the start of his Iron Man adventure last night. How did he get on? The video is here.

For our verdict on the Eidos Montreal reboot, check out our Thief review.

UPDATE: If you're having trouble viewing the video, check it out on Chris' Twitch page.
PC Gamer

In this week's episode, we talk all about Thief (read our review!), Wolfenstein: The New Order (read our preview!), lockpicking minigames, Broken Age, the Oculus Rift, and "focus" modes. Plus, we give our take on the end of Irrational (read our farewell) and use the word "intrinsic" a whole bunch.

Hold 'F' to slow down time and listen to PC Gamer Podcast #373 - Hocus Focus Mode.

Have a question, comment, complaint, or observation? Send an MP3 to pcgamerpodcast@gmail.com or call us toll-free at 877-404-1337 x724.

Subscribe to the podcast RSS feed.

Follow us on Twitter:

@ELahti (Evan Lahti)

@wesleyfenlon (Wes Fenlon)

@tyler_wilde (Tyler Wilde)

@demiurge (Cory Banks)

Podcast theme by Ben Prunty.
Feb 24, 2014
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Thief review">Thief 1

Thief the series has been many things. It is the grandfather of stealth on the PC, part of a design heritage that links Quake to System Shock 2, System Shock 2 to Deus Ex, and so on. It stands for the idea that first person doesn t imply shooter : the original BioShock might be its great-grandchild, but Amnesia and Gone Home are Thief s descendents too.

It is the actualisation of a very specific fantasy the outlaw shadow, Robin Hood by way of Batman and more broadly representative of a particular type of fantasy, a gothic marriage of Hexen s para-medieval grotesquerie and 90s-era steampunk. For some players, Thief is about precision perfect sequences of evasion and distraction forged with much hammering of the quick load key. For others, it s a game of improvisation, gambits, brawls and hair s breadth escapes.

For many, it s about atmosphere. The sense of being an intruder. The latent threat of an Auldale mansion at night, the mysteries of an underground city, the terrors of The Cradle. Thief s settings are a showcase for exemplary art and level design talent, a legacy that begins with Looking Glass Studios and ends with The Dark Mod, with the gaming community.

Thief has had its less glamorous moments, too. It has been an intellectual property languishing at the bottom of a drawer, awaiting the day when the market reports come in and the market reports say we need Assassin s Creed. The drawer opens a crack; light touches an image of a man in a hood crouching on a rooftop. This ll do, a publisher says, somewhere.

Thief the series has been many things. Eidos Montreal s Thief is, well, some of them.

Let s start with the good news. The developers have listened to negative feedback and dialed back on quicktime events and slo-mo nonsense. Beyond the standard spread of difficulty modes you have the option to play with customised settings, enabling purists to disable everything they feel intrudes on their game, from objective markers to entire features. Using custom difficulties, you can play Thief with campaign-spanning permadeath, quicksaves disabled, or the stipulation that being detected at all constitutes mission failure.

If you feared that Eidos Montreal were going to dumb down your favourite game, lower your pitchforks: they have given you the power to smarten it back up. That said, I recommend playing it through once on the hardest setting before you start tinkering.

After a linear but necessary tutorial on the rudiments of stealth, climbing, distracting guards and picking locks, Thief opens strong. The first wave of relief hit me early, during an opportunistic jewellery shop heist that occurs mid-way through the opening chapter. I d jimmied a rear window and slipped in undetected, swiping cups and inkpots off shelves before sliding into a side room where a guard lay dozing in an armchair. I extinguished some candles and, in the dark, began to crack a safe embedded in the wall. This involves a simple minigame where each tumbler is unlocked by feeling for a particular sweet spot. Crack it at the right time and the action is silent: fail and the lock clicks loudly. I failed on the second tumbler.

The guard woke up, but remained in his armchair. I darted behind it and waited until he went back to sleep, listening carefully to the sound of his breathing. I always played Thief games for these near-miss moments, and in that instant I felt like Garrett again.

Later, while I was hiding in a cabinet in the kitchen of a mansion belonging to The City s foremost architect, a wandering cook threatened to discover the body of a guard I d stashed in the corner of the room. Forced to improvise, I slipped out of the cabinet, picked up a wine glass, and threw it across the room where it smashed against the far wall. The cook span around to look and I dashed behind him, scooping up the unconscious guard and slipping away to hide him elsewhere.

On a moment-by-moment level, Thief delivers on the fantasy of being Garrett as well as if not better than its predecessors.

Much is owed to the way the game feels. The City is a handsome place in its modern iteration: while Thief might lack Dishonored s distinctive art style, it boasts a level of detail that gives it a real sense of place. The entire game takes place at night, but colour is used carefully to distinguish areas and make it clear when you re concealed in shadow. This is matched with a spread of audio-visual tricks that fill in for Garrett s instincts. Guards have multiple levels of awareness, and if someone catches sight of you the first you ll know of it is a stirring on the soundtrack that conveys the sense that you re being watched. In combat, your vision narrows; when sprinting the world seems to contract around your point of focus, tilting as you bank around corners and attempt to break line of sight.

Garrett is phenomenally animated. Your body and hands are always visible and interact seamlessly with the environment. Items don t simply vanish when you collect them you pick them up and pocket them. Whether you re rifling through drawers, dialling in a safe combination or snuffing out candles, Thief achieves a sense of physical presence that few first-person games can match.

Then there s swooping. Swooping is good. A tap of the spacebar at any time results in a kind of silent stealth dash that both speeds Garrett up and lowers his profile it s half dive, half lunge. It s used to get from shadow to shadow, from guard to guard, from room to room. It solves the same problem that Dishonored s teleportation power did, but does so in a way that feels less like cheating. Its use is mitigated by stamina also used for sprinting and by caged birds and dogs who can be startled by sudden movement.

When it all comes together Thief feels dextrous, physical and fluid to play. Many interactions are context sensitive jumping and climbing in particular and where problems emerge it s because Garrett doesn t do quite what you expect. Sometimes you ll peek around a corner when you intended to steal something from the top of a table, and sometimes you ll jump to your death when you thought you were facing a gap you could easily cross. These are issues, but eventually you learn to look before you leap.

The cost of this tactile traversal is that the freedom of movement provided by Garrett s gadgets has been strictly curtailed. Rope arrows now only lodge into pre-determined points, making them ways of accessing pre-designed hidden routes rather than a means to create your own. Water arrows serve their purpose but the presence of electric lights in many buildings deactivated by switches which can be hit with regular arrows renders them situational. Moss arrows are gone, and a variety of lethal options went unused as the game (happily) didn t require me to kill anybody.

Focus is an upgradable vision mode that makes use of Garrett s enhanced eye. I normally hate magic vision in stealth games, but in Thief it s a little better than usual. By default you can use it to detect interactive items and by investing skill points you can add new functionality such as slowing down time while performing certain actions, perceiving the inside of locks, or unlocking the ability to stun alert guards with a carefully-aimed blackjack blow to the chest. You might find yourself needing the latter, by the way: combat is incredibly hard to survive on higher difficulties, as it should be.

It took me 15 hours to complete the campaign with the majority of side activities factored-in. The City plays the role of mission hub, not only linking each chapter but also offering a range of activities of its own. It s large but narrow and divided into pre-planned routes that you ll become very familiar with as you crisscross its rooftops over and over. The majority of side missions are single-room stealth or puzzle challenges, but half a dozen take place in entirely new areas. These are a highlight: small but open-ended environments that suit Thief s tight take on stealth.

Any mission can be replayed at any time if you wish to go back and try for a better rating. There s also a well-implemented challenge mode, accessed from the main menu, that enables you to make timed runs on reworked versions of certain mission areas. Factor-in secret areas and elusive special loot and Thief has good mileage beyond its initial running time.

It displays a laudable faith in Thief s basic mechanics that you re given so many different ways to play with them and for the most part, they hold together. Where the game starts to lose points is in the inconsistency of its level design and the patchy, unsatisfactory arc of its main campaign.

A warning for long-time fans: this is a reboot. The old factions are gone and Garrett s backstory has been entirely discarded. Key motifs return Garrett s magic eye, the clash between machines and magic, lost cities, supernatural enemies, and so on but the result is incoherent. I was actually confused about whether it was a reboot or not for the first few hours, and the inclusion of imagery from previous games complicates things even further. Entire plot threads go nowhere and the whole feels cobbled together despite some individually adept moments. Garrett is given a proteg , Erin, who acts as an interesting foil at the beginning but this relationship isn t explored particularly well.

The campaign feels like it has been assembled from parts of discarded Thief sequels straight successors here, reboots there, bits of this, bits of that. Thief s previous selves surface from time to time as ugly reminders of the game that almost was, and the campaign is deeply inconsistent as a result. The missions that focus around actual thieving are strong, and whenever you re given a defended area to infiltrate the game comes together. Elsewhere, not so much. You ll dodge bits of an exploding building and attempt to evade alert guards in a boxed-in area right out of Batman: Arkham Asylum. You ll explore a haunted mental asylum that has none of the terrible brilliance of Deadly Shadows haunted orphanage. There are a couple of dumb boss encounters better than Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but, yeah. Boss encounters.

Certain areas are linked by brief third-person climbing sequences straight out of Assassin s Creed, in which Garrett s skills feel disconnected from what you can do in the regular game. Then there s a chase sequence that gets Thief about as wrong as it is possible to get it you dash across rooftops and steer Garrett into cinematic scrape after cinematic scrape. Slow down or screw up and you re killed by dogs. It s rubbish, so why is it here? There s a fascinating tale to be told about the development of this game, I suspect.

The game has brief dalliances with idiosyncrasy. One optional objective involves stealing beautiful but unsettling paintings by a troubled artist images of humanoid animals in paganistic garb attached to new-agey epithets. It s as close as the game gets to the turn-of-the-century fantasism that is central to Thief s thematic legacy, if not its gaming one. There s also full frontal nudity think of the Game of Thrones TV series and you won t be far off the mark. It s not the most egregious sexual imagery ever committed to videogame, but it is explicit, and it ll be off-putting for some.

It also has bugs. At the time of writing these range from series-staple AI weirdness guards spinning on the spot, characters repeating the same lines of dialogue over and over, the odd omniscient crossbowman to more serious issues with slowdown. Playing on an i5 system with 16GB of RAM and a GTX 560 Ti I experienced occasional choppiness despite an otherwise steady framerate. There s a benchmarking tool in the main menu to help you find the right settings, but the game seems to struggle with certain scenes regardless. There s also an infrequent but annoying bug where leaving certain menus will trap the screen in a vertically letterboxed 4:3 aspect ratio.

Technical issues aside, there is skill evident in Thief s execution. The team at Eidos Montreal clearly know a lot about interaction design, and enough about level construction to build exciting places to plunder. I wish, however, that this fundamental competence had been matched to a more ambitious and coherent vision.

Thief the series has been many things, but it has always been important. The history of PC games doubles as a history of great ideas, and the other thing that the original Thief games, System Shock and Deus Ex have in common is that they expanded our sense of what the medium was capable of. It might be unfair to expect a modern reboot to capture that catalytic fire, but I m starting to suspect that it s flat-out unrealistic too. Genius has a hard time emerging from a system that also allows the phrase rooftop dog chase cinematic quicktime event to be taken from concept to execution.

Whether you are heartbroken or merely disappointed by Thief s muddled sense of self will depend on exactly how invested you are in PC gaming s creation myth. This is a decent stealth game that feels nice to play, and that ll be enough for many and if you feared the worst, you can rest a little easier. But the thing about evading disaster is that sometimes greatness slips away too.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Thief launch trailer tries to capture your attention">Thief

I'd forgotten Thief was being released next week. In fact, you could say its launch really snuck up on me. At least, you could if you didn't want everyone within earshot to groan, sign and throw heavy objects of you. Instead, it's probably best to keep quiet and watch this launch trailer, which goes over some of the plot points that are motivating Garrett as he robs his way through a city in turmoil.

Thief is out 27th February.

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