Thief: Deadly Shadows: Stealth At its Best! (5 out of 5)
With the release of Thief: The Dark Project in 1998, developers Looking Glass Studios introduced something new in the stealth genre. The first game revolved around the life and times of a master thief named Garett, who slinked around the dark alleys, buildings and sewers of medieval England robbing wealthy and corrupt noblemen. The missions were based on infiltrating buildings using stealth and stealing valuable items and manuscripts without being detected. This unique concept spelled instant success and launched a riveting sequel called Thief II: The Metal Age.
Thief: Deadly Shadows is the third title of the Thief series, which at first would generally be thought of a simple sequel to previous Thief games. But the missions and gameplay are different from its predecessors. The plot is very mysterious and unfolds when you fulfill certain tasks laid down by your masters. What’s more, there are some RPG elements involved. With Deadly Shadows, the Thief series just got more interesting.
Gameplay (5 out of 5)
One of the key features introduced in Thief: Deadly Shadows is the open ended gameplay. Previous Thief games only allowed players to accomplish main tasks and escape undetected. Deadly Shadows lets you explore the city, and play additional mini quests besides the main missions. Most levels will also set tasks to steal some percent of loot scattered across the city to complete your missions. You will have your own apartment where you can train yourself using different weapons and will also have the choice to ally with major factions. Deadly Shadows also lets you interact with a variety of NPCs that may or may not have a direct impact on the overall missions. You can snoop in and hear dialogue exchanged between people, which may help you in solving certain quests and puzzles. These little RPGish elements add more to the gameplay value as they assure some amount of flexibility and replayability.
Thief games are widely known for their stealth elements. Deadly Shadows follows the same stealth route. You will have to stick to shadowy areas, crouch to avoid footstep noises, eliminate guards with your dagger silently and hide their bodies. The game also provides a non-violent option to go undetected. You can extinguish fire places, lamps and candle-lit chandeliers with your water arrows and sneak past guards without being detected. You can also distract guards with your dedicated noise-making arrows or lay a moss mat on metal floorings with your moss arrows to numb your footstep noises. In later missions, you will have access to an array of weapons including a very gothic-looking proximity mine, flash bombs, fire arrows and gas grenades.
One of the new features in the game is the ‘Wall Flatten’ key. All you have to do is press this key (Default ‘R’) to have Garrett flatten his back against the wall. This can make him undetectable if there’s no light source nearby. It can be a handy stealth position if you see too many guards strolling around. However, you won’t be able to attack any guards in this way. You will have to press the R button again to change to normal position.
Another key aspect of Deadly Shadows is the ability to lock pick doors and treasure chests as well as climb walls using special climbing gloves. These innovative features make gameplay immersive and engaging.
The AI in Deadly Shadows is pretty impressive. If enemies have the slightest idea of your presence, they will surely search each corner of the room to detect any unwanted elements. The game’s difficulty level measures the alertness of the guards. If you choose expert mode, chances of you getting detected are high unless you use tactics and cleverness to sneak past enemies. I would recommend avoiding normal mode as it can be too easy for hardcore gamers to play Deadly Shadows. Select the hard or expert level to ensure challenging moments during gameplay.
Thief: Deadly Shadows has a lot of new features and weapons. Gamers will love to operate the proximity mines and smoke bombs to deceive and eliminate enemies. They will also love its unique stealth features including climbing up building walls using special gloves, using noise arrows to distract guards and hiding behind walls and bushes to go undetected.
Graphics (5 out of 5)
The game is all about sneaking past guards and so hiding behind shadows plays a big role. To make this possible, the shadow and lighting effects in Thief: Deadly Shadows has been elevated to a completely new level. You can play with shadows and deceive enemies. However, if you are near a light source, you can get detected by a passing guard unless you extinguish it with your water arrows. This real-time shadow and lighting effect is created perfectly to suit a stealth game like Deadly Shadows. But, since the game is a bit on the darker side, you can adjust the gamma options from the settings menu to clearly see objects or barriers shrouded in shadows.
Deadly Shadows requires 128 MB 3D graphics card that supports Pixel Shader 1.1 version and Texture and Lighting. There might be some frame-rate slowdowns, particularly if you just meet the minimum specs, and you might have to turn down the graphics opions to avoid such problems.
The apartments, cathedrals and other buildings are rendered perfectly.The character models in Deadly shadows are detailed and have excellent facial animations. Each character wears different attire. This can easily help you distinguish between a normal passerby and an armored city guard. You can also move your mouse to see Garrett’s stern face sporting a mechanical eye. All you have to do is press the default ‘V’ key to easily switch between first and third person views.
Sounds (5 out of 5)
The best feature in the sound department is the multitude of dialogue spoken by enemies, guards and other NPCs. There are just too many sound files consisting of over 300,000 lines of dialogue. The open city is bustling with random dialogues exchanged between non-enemy characters. Guards will react by uttering “who’s there behind the doors” or “Aha, an Intruder” whenever they detect Garrett behind objects, crates or doors.
The noise factor in Deadly Shadows is very important. The noise your footsteps make on certain materials, especially metals, can alert guards. The best way to avoid any kind of unwanted sound is to crouch or use moss arrows. All objects make sound, be it a simple chair, crates, books or any valuable items scattered throughout the city. So if you bump into an object, it can certainly alert the guards. To conclude, sound plays an important part in the overall gameplay dynamics and it is very important to employ tactics and strategy to sneak past guards, making it not just ear candy but part of the gameplay itself.
Overall (5 out of 5)
Thief games have always featured among the best stealth games, and because of its innovative features and great concept, Deadly Shadows is no different. Its open ended gameplay and side-quests create a good opportunity to replay missions with different strategies and tactics. Graphics are very impressive and various sound effects are an integral part of gameplay. All in all, Thief: Deadly Shadows guarantees a complete stealth experience that even a Hitman or a Metal Gear Solid Game cannot give.
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 2000/XP
Processor: Intel Pentium IV 1.5 GHz
RAM: Minimum 256 MB (Recommended 512 MB)
Video Card: Minimum 64 MB Graphics Memory (recommended 128 MB Video Memory), Video Card must Support Pixel Shader 1.1, Direct X 9.0 b and Hardware Texture and Lighting
Sound: DirectSound 9 compatible sound card