Thief II: The Metal Age is the sequel to a game that was classed, not as a first-person shooter (like Quake 2, Unreal, etc.) but a first-person SNEAKER. However, I never really got to play it properly because it wouldn’t run on my old machine (P200MMX, 3Dfx card, 128Mb SDRAM) , hence no review online, and it would only run (surprisingly) on my girlfriend’s PC (P166, with NO 3Dfx card and only 32Mb RAM!), although it ran really badly and was unplayable.
Thankfully the story is different with this game and what a treat it is! The aim of the game is to creep around buildings, rooftops and anywhere else you can walk on without falling off whilst remaining unseen by those keeping guard and complete tasks such as finding and freeing friends, stealing gold and in the first level – do it all without killing ANYONE! Oh, that’s no fun!… Only joking, it’s immensely pleasurable and it lasts for fifteen long levels.
“I can do all that”, says you. “I’ll just run around and not give a care who hears me bang about as long as they don’t get wind of my presence!”
Well, if you do that you will be heard and they’ll be after you. Occasionally you can out-run the enemy and you’ll hear them curse your disappearance. The advanced AI system used in this game is nothing short of brilliant for sending chills down your spine as they chase after you.
Graphics, Sound and Playability
Gorgeous-looking, ornate, well-designed levels. Crisp, sharp graphics and it runs like the wind on the right system. Resolution is available up to 1280×1024 pixels, but I prefer to pipe it through to the TV and the 16Mb Voodoo 3 3000 AGP allows up to 800×600 resolution but it still looks brilliant on a 32″ widescreen set.
The blurb on Eidos’ website states that the game contains realistic environmental weather such as fog, rain and snow. So they modelled the game on medieval Manchester then?
Thief II: The Metal Age is at its best when the air is quiet as the soft sound of footsteps approaching strikes terror into your heart as they grow louder and louder since someone is on the approach! When you’re in severe danger, the music builds up to a crescendo to indicate trouble. It really does create a genuinely-terrifying atmosphere and the soundcard is put to good use when you die and let out an echoing, blood-curdling scream – best heard LOUD through headphones!
I think I’ve summed up how good the playability is as well from the above, but I was playing this up until 4am one night on level 2. Earlier on I’d been spotted by an alarm system which alerted the enemy. I managed to avoid detection and switch off the alarm, but shortly afterwards I went into a new room and the alarm went off again – even louder than before!
I turned around to get some idea of which direction the alarm was coming from but it stayed in the same place… I then removed my headphones and realised it was the house across the street’s bloody alarm going off! Didn’t half give me a heart attack!
Overall, when I first played this game, I put it onto the TV, crept up on the guards.. “Shit, he’s seen me”, turn and run, get sword in my ribs. Why can they kill me and I can’t kill them? Grrr! Still, it’s fun to wind them upa bit so they run off, even if they do go and get their mates!
Some wimpy guy came in and called for the guards. “No you don’t” Whack! Body slumps to floor.
It’s fantastic and atmospheric stuff. The only aspect where this game loses a point is in originality, obviously, as it’s a sequel. I’m normally a trigger-happy attack anything type of gamer for first-person events, but this teaches you to calm it down a little, then frightens the shit out of you when the bad guys are comin’ ta getcha!
- Developer: Looking Glass Studios
- Publisher: Eidos Interactive
- Players: Single player campaign
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.