Thief 2X: Shadows of the Metal Age
As before, I don’t usually cover mods, but sometimes it’s so damn hard to resist that I’ll just do it anyway. Take Thief T2X for instance, which is essentially a brand new game wrapped around the Thief 2 engine. You obviously need the original Thief 2 installed beforehand, but you get a lot for that effort – a brand new story, new weapons, art, sounds, characters, hell even pre-rendered cutscenes are thrown in there.
You have to engage in the usual revenge journey after witnessing your cousin getting killed by a nasty bunch of smugglers, which you’ll get to live through first-hand in the expository first mission. Intrigue ensues. You end up creeping through fancy museums, town squares, sewers or old abandoned ruins haunted by the undead. The entire trip will take 13 missions, which are surprisingly diverse in theme and play styles. The revenge plot takes a front seat over the thieving, but you’ll most definitely have to pick up every little trinket to fund your adventures – stuff costs way more here.
The game’s difficulty has been nudged up, though it’s not that noticeable unless you’ve played the original. In any case you don’t have to be a master Thief player to enjoy this game. On the lowest setting, it’s fairly easy to slip past guards in broad daylight as long as you stick to corners and keep the visibility gem dark. When guards do detect you, they’re rightfully hard to shake. Some assignments jack up the difficulty even further by requiring you never be detected at all. For example in one mission you have to track a bunch of thugs through a railway station.
But the game really shines with regards to map design. They’re quite huge and logically constructed, with alternative routes and entry points. As with some of the best levels in Thief 2, it’s a blast when you find that hidden open window leading into the building you’re supposed to break into. The puzzles themselves fare no worse. Usually you gotta find clues that will nudge you into the right direction, or reveal an important detail you have to know. These come it in written form (letters, books, notes) or by overhearing guards chatting up behind a corner.
Many items were re-skinned and a few new ones thrown in as well. Some of novelties include the EMP mine, a much needed addition that disables electronic devices (such as security cameras) but which doesn’t cause an explosion that will alert every guard in your vicinity. One new potion gives you silent feet for a few seconds, allowing you to run on loud surfaces. Then there are Maw crystals – when activated, these will give alternate uses to your elemental arrows. The water arrow, for instance, can be used to create icy platforms on the surface of a lake or river.
Some of the engine issues from the original Thief 2 stand out, of course. For some reason there never seems to be enough contrast in the game, and so everything always looks kinda flat and washed out. This is definitely a game you have to play at night. Other engine quirks will be familiar to those who have played the original – trouble grabbing and jumping from ladders, AI pathfinding limits and the not-always-fully-cooperative mantling feature. That being said, solid levels and cool stealth play give this mission pack great value if you’re a longtime Thief fan.
System Requirements: Pentium 233 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Win98
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