Thief Review

👤by Tim Harmer Comments 📅07-03-14
Graphics and Sound Design

Test System

CPU: Intel Core i5 3750K @ Stock
Memory: 8GB (2 x 4GB) G-SKILL DDR3
GPU: ZOTAC GeForce GTX 660
OS: Windows 7
OS HDD: 64GB Kingston V100+ SSD
HDD: 160GB Western Digital Caviar SE 7200RPM
Monitor Resolution: 1080p

Thief has been built using Unreal Engine 3, the same Engine used in the Batman: Arkham games and more recently in the sublime BioShock Infinite. As we have seen in the past it's capable of some gorgeous views, especially a higher image quality settings, whilst being an extremely scalable engine capable of running on practically stream-powered hardware. Unsurprisingly therefore, given this studio also brought up Deus Ex: HR, Thief nails the aesthetic using high quality textures and solid motion capture for in-game models.

Every locale in The City is dark, dank and depressing. The art direction has obviously specified that, but it also makes navigation quite difficult in the hub zones. The texture details are good, but you never really get to see above the skyline to get an overarching view of the city as a whole. NPC models are often repeated throughout apart from key characters, giving the appearance of a city of clones. Thief also suffers from the Skyrim complaint of different NPCs looping with the same conversations, breaking immersion.

Unfortunately AMD TrueAudio Technology was unavailable at the time of review, and without it sound directionality was generally poor (although it certainly improves with a surround-sound setup). That’s quite disappointing in a game that makes awareness of your surroundings such an integral part to the game. The quality of effects themselves was very good, giving ample cues to in-game prompts and events without taking you out of the action.

Those concerned that Thief might be a console port with customisation options carefully hidden will be gratified to note that most of the options PC gamers take for granted are included as standard. Editable either in a splash-screen prior to launching the game or within an in-game menu, the game offers usual resolution, V-Sync, SSAA and texture quality options. Additionally it goes a little beyond the normal by also adding an FoV slider, FXAA and tessellation option. Configuring the game to be optimal for your system should be relatively easy; as is typical adjusting shadow quality should be your first port of call to squeeze a few extra frames out.

Somewhat oddly for a title relying on stealth, brightness adjustment is buried in the graphics menu rather than utilising a prompt on game launch. Given that the game aesthetic is so reliant on the contrast between light and shadow we would have expected this to me more prominent, especially as the default setting is much lighter than one might expect.

As the title is not a part of the NVIDIA The Way It’s Meant To Be Played stable it doesn’t offer TXAA or PhysX. Although we had no specific issues apart from rare minor texture artefacts the current GeForce driver is likely not yet optimised for the game, and certainly GeForce Experience does not yet present optimised settings. These are only minor points however which can be worked around with a little trial and error.

With our test setup the game was generally smooth, operating at around 40FPS during most situations. That’s reasonably fair given our decidedly mid-range test PC which just about hits the Recommended level advised by Eidos, but those with high-end PCs should see a significant and noticeable framerate benefit even at 1080p. Eidos have included a benchmarking tool for iterative testing of your in-game settings which is as always a great inclusion, so be sure to exploit that to the hilt to get the best out of your system that you can.

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