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Thief: The Dark Project

Product: Thief: The Dark Project
Company: Eidos/Looking Glass Studios
Estimated Street Price: 35/$40
Review By: Byron Hinson

At last a 3D game that doesn't copy the Quake/Quake 2 style of gaming. Thief is a refreshing new and original game that does not involve you running around bland, 3D levels killing everything you come up against. So what type of game is it? It is hard to put Thief into a category, but it feels like a Role Playing Game more than the usual FPS. Read on and find out just what makes this a great gaming experience.

  • 12 Huge Missions
  • Stealthy Gameplay brings a new dimension to first person action
  • Advanced enemies can see, hear speak and sound alarms
  • Weaponry includes Blackjack, Sword, Fire Arrows, Rope Arrows and Water Arrows

Installation, Intro and In-Game Options

Installation is simple, Autoplay asks if you would like to install Thief: The Dark Project and you just follow the instructions from there. It also installs both the Intel Codec 5 and Microsoft's DirectX 6.0 (Assuming you don't already have it).

The game begins with an impressive Full Motion Video intro showing how your character has become a thief and just how he goes about his job. The in-game menu consists of the usual options including

  1. New Game
  2. Load Game
  3. Options
  4. Intro
  5. Credits
  6. Quit

Thief: Holy WaterFirst thing to do is to set-up my video card, as games tend to enjoy selecting my ATI card instead of the Voodoo 2. Clicking on the options menu gives you both Audio and Video menus - I selected my Voodoo 2's DirectX driver and run the game in 800x600; you can also select any gamma changes your video card may need.

Audio plays a massive part in Thief so make sure you go to this menu before you start and ensure that you have selected the best options for your soundcard - These options include using Hardware Acceleration if your soundcard supports it, unfortunately my card doesn't. (Creative - feel like sending me a Live! card for review?)

Gameplay and Controls

Thief: The Dark Project begins with a well put together training level (Assuming you want to play it). Before each mission, including the training level, you are given the mission objectives, these range from breaking into mansions, prisons etc without being seen or heard to searching out a specific object within a level.

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The training level shows you the various controls, which are quite easy to master. They include creeping, walking and running. Creeping plays a big role in Thief, once mastered, especially in the first proper level, you can creep past guards, rooms with servants in and anything else for that matter, but remember, just because creeping works in one play, it isn't always the best option. If a guard turns around and spots you in the light whilst you are trying to creep past, he won't hesitate to strike a blow with his sword. So not only must you use the creep option, you must also be aware of light and dark areas in rooms (Of which there are many). Torches light up rooms and by using your water arrows you can snuff them out, this helps to give you a better hiding place. If you are careful enough, you can creep up to the guards and servants without being noticed and then pickpocket them for an important item such as a key for a room or more healing potion.

How It Grades
Originality: A+
Gameplay: A
Graphics: B-
Cutscenes: B
Sound: A
Interface: B
Multiplayer: N/A
Overall: A

Creeping up on guards is just a small part of the game, by using your blackjack weapon you can get close enough to the enemy to give them one swift blow to the back of the head, this knocks them unconscious. Yet again, just knocking out a guard isn't always enough to stop you being noticed, if another person walks past an unconscious body lying on the cobbled floors, he will gladly shout out or sound an alarm. There is a way around this, you can pick up the unconscious body and carry it into a darkened area of the level and leave it there, and this means it is unlikely that anyone will spot the body on the ground.

Hopefully this is giving you an understanding of how Thief works. It isn't a game in which you must run around each level blasting people away, If you even attempt to do that, then expect a quick death as a couple of blows from a sword will soon have you collapsing in a pile of blood.

Thief is an excellent game in terms of how it makes you think about what you are going to do next. Sometimes it pays to wait and watch guards, servant, zombies or whatever enemy is close by just to see what their walking and turning patterns are to see if there is a way past them without being noticed.

The controls in Thief are excellent and almost every function in the game came be customized. I do have one problem with it though, after picking up objects from tables or from the floor, it is sometimes a little easy to accidentally activate that item without meaning to. A bomb for example, or a healing potion that are scarce in the game can be used up when you have full strength, it doesn't happen often, but when it does it can be incredibly annoying.

Graphics and Sound

The graphics engine is fine; just don't buy it expecting fantastic special effects like those seen in Unreal and Quake 2. The graphic (Dark) Engine is more like that seen in Jedi Knight nothing fancy, but it does the job well. There are a few problems with it - I understand that the game is dark as this is vital to the gameplay, but some parts of Thief are just TOO dark. Finding your way around a room when it's pitch black is not easy, but I guess that is why it is called The Dark Engine. There are also a few areas in the game, which jerk like mad, despite only having one other enemy on screen at the time, it also happens if you walk close to a burning fire in various rooms.

The full motion video that accompanies each mission is great. They help to carry over the dark atmosphere of the game and are also extremely well narrated.Thief: Down In The Bonehoard

Thief: The Dark Project has some wonderful sound, the game is packed full of speech with guards walking around chatting and whistling tunes. I was surprised that so many of the guards had a different voice and did so many different things during the game. Servants start to whisper amongst each other and act worried whenever they hear the slightest noise from you.

Atmosphere in any 3D First Person game is essential and Thief doesn't disappoint. Walking around the various levels you can hear people quoting holy texts, but even better is the 3D sound that is being generated in the game. The 3D sound helps you hear where guards are walking or standing, for example. If you hear footsteps getting louder and louder, you know that someone is close by (Logical Byron)

One strange part in the game is the choice of music, it's almost industrial, but it surprisingly works well, and it tends to only show up in the intro and mission briefings.

Final Comments

Thief: The Dark Project is a must buy for anyone who has become bored of the same old 3D games coming out lately. Thief is a genuinely original game released in times when originality seems to have gone out of the window. The atmosphere and gameplay is second to none and help make Thief my game of the year. Oh and one final point, It is also almost bug-less - Trespasser, Tomb Raider 3 and Sin please take note.

Overall Score


Version Reviewed

Version 1.14 US

Release Date

Out Now

In The Box?

1 CD
1 Set of instructions
1 Keyboard Layout
Registration Card
Pamphlet Of Upcoming Games

PC Setup

  • Pentium II 450
  • Windows 98
  • 128 Meg SD-Ram
  • Voodoo 2 - 8mb
  • Crystal PnP Audio
  • DVD-ROM - 32x
  • 17" LG Electronics Monitor
  • ATI 8mb XPert AGP Graphics Card

PC Required

  • Pentium 200 Or Higher With No 3D Hardware
  • Pentium 166 With 3D Card
  • Microsoft Windows 95/98 operating system
  • 32 MB of RAM
  • 60 MB of available hard disk space
  • Quad-speed CD-ROM drive
  • Microsoft DirectX 6.0
  • Direct Media (Included)
  • Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing device
  • Windows 95-compatible sound board


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