Hello Darkness, my old friend.
Thief Gold is essentially The Dark Project plus three new missions, some enemies and various level fixes, particularly with Bonehoard. Could seem like a light offering, but the new levels actually add quite a lot to the original in both volume (the levels are huge) and storyline. Two of the new missions focus on obtaining the four Talismans needed to open the Haunted Cathedral, while the third is a heist job not related to the rest of the story.
The first Gold mission, ‘Thieves Guild’, takes place just before ‘The Sword’ and has little significance to the overall plot of the game. At the same time it’s the most interesting, involving a daring heist of a stolen vase from an extremely well organized thieves’ guild. The thieves have their elaborate hide-out in a sewer network located deep underneath a gambling den, with several other complications arising along the way. The level has its moments, although it’s much too maze-like when navigating through the sewers.
The last two levels are more integrated into the second act of the game. In the original, you had to retrieve four Talismans spread across two levels – ‘The Lost City’ and ‘Undercover’. The Gold version gives every Talisman its own level. Enter ‘The Mage Towers’, the second Gold exclusive that involves sneaking into the Hand Brotherhood’s gigantic stronghold.
This level understandably makes full use of Mages, the game’s new enemy. As elementalists who oppose necromancy, Mages come in four sizes according to the school of magic they follow, be it air, fire, water or earth magic. It’s a clever take on a common gaming foe, and the level itself is divided into a central fortress with several outlying towers, one that houses each element and a central stronghold housing the Brotherhood’s library and living quarters. Yet the mission involves far too much walking and platforming, making it the longest and also least interesting of the three.
The last level is by far the best. ‘Song of the Cavern’ takes place just after ‘The Lost City’ and involves braking into a fancy Opera House in the midst of a feud between its owners. Obviously inspired by Phantom of the Opera, the mission was solely put together by Terri Brosius (the lady who voiced SHODAN from System Shock 2), and involves you venturing into a cave system leading to an underground shrine housing the third Talisman, only to find it was already stolen by an unlikely suspect. This level alone is worth going through the rest of the game.
If you haven’t played through Thief then the Gold version is an excellent start. It’s still a wonderfully deep and atmospheric stealth game, and the exclusive Gold levels just add more awesome to it.
System Requirements: Pentium 166, 16 MB RAM, 4MB SVGA Video, 60 MB HDD, Win95/98