I’ve been away from writing about video games for a while, but managed to finally get out a review of the Eidos/Square Enix Thief reboot released earlier this year. I say “finally” because I’ve been playing the game since May, and have been getting thoughts down on paper since June; ultimately with a review that went through 3 different revisions. My opinion on the game ended up changing dramatically over the course of time, from being ready to throw my controller down within the introduction to labeling it my game of the year before it was through! Note to self: finish games before you start reviewing them.
You can check out my completed review over on Gaming Symmetry.
Perhaps I just have a soft spot for games that the internet seems all too quick to dismiss, but I did find the game to be a good deal of fun, and for a reboot, it had enough ties to the old franchise to keep me interested, even though it only did so through a few winks and nods in the background. Plus when you get to the meta-analysis to a reboot of a City that’s built on top of other cities… I don’t know, I thought it fit pretty well.
Despite my early skepticism, I’ve been looking forward to this game for a while. Here’s a picture of me with Square Enix’s display for the game last year at PAX East, back when they must’ve had some level of faith in the product.
While it’s true that most any game surviving a long development history (this one was in the cooker since at least 2009) can lose out to its own hype, I fear Thief may have suffered a different fate; not only being written off as a simple “me too” cash-in of an existing franchise to ride the coattails of Assassin’s Creed and Dishonored, but also a victim of general review practices – picking apart low-hanging faults without enough consideration towards successes.
I don’t mean to criticize any one review, but after reading quite a few of them (actually reading them, not just looking at the score) many end up the same way; paragraphs dedicated to everything wrong with the game, with only a small acknowledgement of the fun they actually had while playing. There are problems to note for sure (ask my wife about the time I couldn’t save because an alert guard was walking in place on top of a crate he had no business standing on anyway), but to be honest, their overall impact on the game was minimal for me. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions, but I don’t know; when reviews come off as too eager to criticize without additional context it becomes pretty difficult to assess a game’s worth, and when people are looking for any excuse to pass on a title just to keep up with a release schedule (a considerable problem if you follow the indie market in addition to the major publishers), it seems to be the negatives that outweigh all else. Ah well. I got my enjoyment out of Thief and I hope others will try it for themselves.
Speaking of the indie market; this weekend at MIT is the Boston Festival of Indie Games. I’ll be there in my black NES hat if anyone wants to say hi.