Thief 3 : Deadly Shadows Review and Previews – PC Zone

It’s been a while since I did any magazine scans. I’ve only got 2001 onwards left to look through so there isn’t a whole lot relating to Origin. I’ll see what I can dig up though. To start, here are 2 previews and a review of Thief 3 from the July 2003, April 2004 & August 2004 editions of PC Zone.

2003 E3 Preview
2004 Preview

Thief 3 : Deadly Shadows – Days 10 & 11

I didn’t have long on Monday and I decided to put what time I had on Tuesday into finishing the game rather than writing it up so I’m writing up two days here. I head back to the Keeper library and it’s a mess with bodies strewn around and a lot of sorry Keeper’s blaming themselves for this mess. Apparently the arrow was pointing at the Keepers in general since they have stopped looking after the city and instead become more interested in glyphs. I learn that Gamall (the hag) is looking for something called the final glyph which would make her all powerful and I should attempt to destroy it somehow.

So are they going to sort this mess out? No, that would be my job, again. I have to find Gamall’s Lair first by searching around Auldale.

I find written clues about her lair being in the canal but the Pagan’s have blocked the entrance so I have to run into their lair and steal their amulet to get in. I’m still not on good terms with them but running in and out of their area more or less unscathed is not a problem.

With the amulet I can get into the canal control room, lower the water level, then wander down the canal and find the entrance to Gamall’s Lair. This place isn’t officially a mission but it certainly plays like one even if it is only in one part.

More of the statues are wandering around in here but I manage to avoid them and make my way to an encounter with Artemis who is also trying to find out what is going on. Gamall has conveniently laid out her plan and it appears to involve placing 5 special objects at various points around the city. I’m going to have to steal these objects and carry out this plan myself before she can do it. The first two of these are the items I stole in the games first two missions and are to be found in this lair.

Nearby is a glyph on the wall which I use and this gives me the fantastically useful ability to blackjack the statues. This is going to make my journey back through the lair a lot easier.

I make my way back through the lair finding the two items I need without difficulty. The other 3 items I need are all in the city museum which is alleged to be Thief proof but I’m not about to let that stop me.

I find a few notes on my way there and it appears I’m not the first to try to rob the place. I can’t be bothered to head all the way back through the city to pick up these decoys mentioned here so I just go straight in.

I’m expecting the museum to be crawling with statues but there is no sign of Gamall throughout the entire mission and it’s just me verses the guards, and there are certainly plenty of them. Most of the guards around here carry keys which saves me a load of lock picking later on.

The museum turns out to be a classic Thief mission with small carpeted areas on noisy marble floors, patrolling guards, loads of little side rooms and niches to hide in, etc… I wander around randomly picking up mountains of treasure along the way. Just about every exhibit is stealable but the items I’m really here for have a bit more security and are surrounded by lightning. I’ve found a note describing power switches in certain places in the museum.

The switch I’m looking for is upstairs behind a door. Throwing the switch turns all the lights off temporally. I take the opportunity while the lights are off to take out a particularly bothersome guard who would have seen me coming otherwise. I then run and grab the crown just before the lights come back on.

One of the items I need to steal is the eye which I also had to steal in Thief 1. It starts talking to me in it’s creepy way when I get near.It is now being held by a statue which I have to raise out of the floor apparently by getting to the curators balcony.

The curators room is right on the top floor. I steal all the valuables in his room then throw the switch on his balcony and the giant statue comes up out of the floor and starts rotating.

I have to get to a lower balcony and grab the eye as it moves past me. I’ve already got the other two valuables so now I just need to head back to the entrance and leave.

I run into Orland right outside. He has decided I shouldn’t destroy the final glyph after all as that is what Gamall was trying to do. It is in fact the one thing that threatens her plans for world domination. Before we have been speaking long she turns up in person and I scarper for the rooftops. I’ve now got a final mission to place the 5 objects around the city.

The city streets are a wild place to be now. Aside from the usual guards, Hammers and Pagans, there are now statues running around + Gamall herself. I can tell I’m near one of the locations I need to use one of the 5 items by Gamall being around. I decide that blackjacking her is not going to work and don’t try it. Her eyesight isn’t great so I sneak by….

… and place the first item on the memorial in the Stonemarket Plaza.

I struggle to locate exactly were a couple of the locations are but before long I’ve got 4 of the items placed and just need to use the last one back at the South Plaza fountain. The city streets have more or less cleared themselves by this point. There is an epic battle between about 10 city inhabitants vs. Gamall at one point resulting in a huge pile of corpses but at least it distracted her long enough for me to get in and out.

I head off to the fountain, run past Gamall and use the Eye, and the final cutscene kicks in. Gamall’s power fades away, her statues die and she is now an ancient woman easily captured by the Keepers. It then cuts to a later date and in a mirror to the cutscene at the start of Thief 1, I’m crept up on by a child who manages to see me despite my efforts and I reveal myself to now be a Keeper and she is the potentential pupil.

After all the grief, Garett has given the Keepers in the last 3 games, I’m surprised he would join up with them. It’s not that bad an ending but a bit rushed considering this ends the trilogy and the series (assuming Thief 4 never happens). Looking Glass/Ion Storm games have a history of slightly unsatisfactory endings, I guess the journey is the reward.

I’ve enjoyed Thief 3 anyway and would recommend it to anyone. In some ways it’s weaker than the first two games in the series but the plot is a little stronger, the graphics are obviously a huge improvement and in the Cradle it does have what is probably the most memorable mission in all 3 games. I just wish I could have spent less time running around the city as it did get tiresome after a while.

I’m going to hold off saying what game I’m going to play next as I’ve noticed that I invariably end up playing something else. There aren’t too many left to choose from actually although I notice that the Ultima 6 project is now finished (and I still haven’t played Lazarus!). This blog is definitely going to be something where I add the occasional game from here on out. If I went all out to play all the games I can think of, I’d probably run out within a few months. Top of my list are still Longbow 2 and Super Wing Commander since they are the only two Origin games I haven’t played yet so maybe it will be one of them.

Whatever the game, there will be a bit of a break first as right now I’ve started Force Unleashed which I bought in the last Steam sale. I’m a couple of levels in and I can’t say I’m impressed as it’s exactly the sort of mindless eye candy that makes me want to play old games instead. If I stick it out, it doesn’t look like it will take long to finish despite the unfathomable 30Gb it’s taking up on my hard disk.

Thief 3 : Deadly Shadows Day 9

Before I start this level, I decide I really should get some equipment so I reload an old savegame and stock up on fire arrows and the like. If I hadn’t done this, I’d have been in real trouble as it turns out.

I find a cellar hatch and let myself into the asylum. There are a lot of strange sounds around here like children laughing and heavy footsteps from things that don’t appear to be there but so far nothing attacks me. The fuses for this place are blown and it is extremely dark and hard to see where I’m going. I find the fuse box but I need to find a replacement fuse.

I don’t think I can describe in words how creepy this level is to play. The audio is extremely oppressive and despite it being bright sunlight outside I’m permanently on edge. There is a load of banging coming from behind the attic door but when I open it nothing is there. I do find the fuse I was looking for…

… and a scary portrait of the Keeper translator. When I look at this I hear a ghostly child’s voice….

A ball of light that casts the shadow of a child appears in the corner. This is the ghost of the child in the picture. She tells me that she is being held here by the cradle remembering her and she wants me to remove a vial of her blood from the cellar and throw it in a storm drain to get it outside the building. Like this level wasn’t creepy enough already, now I’m being guided around by a spectre.

I should have got the blood while I was down here, only I didn’t check my notes to see where it was but I go and turn the lights back on in the cellar. Somehow the level becomes more scary now I have the potential to see what’s coming. I still haven’t seen anything down here though.

Now that the power is on, I can throw this lever and open the emergency lockdown portcullis. This allows me access to the second part of the level, the asylum.

This is the main part of the asylum and unfortunately for me it’s populated by a particularly nasty sort of undead. I sneak up on one of these guys and I have no idea what he is but he moves like he’s being electrocuted and all the lights flicker when he’s around. I backstab him to take him down and finish him off with holy water. The snag here is I’ve only 3 bottles of holy water so I have to use fire arrows on the others and these sometimes work and sometimes don’t. I’m never quite sure if the body on the ground is about to get up and attack me which adds to the general unease.

If you turn and see one of these guys running at you on this level when you don’t expect it, it can make you jump out of your seat. It certainly raised goosebumps on a warm day for me.

The first guy I’ve taken out appears to have been arranging gems in the eye sockets of these paintings. Best not to ask and just take the gems. The rest of the asylum is truly horrible with electro shock treatment rooms, a morgue, etc…

I fully explore this area taking out every one of the monsters. I actually get to 100% treasure which is a first for me in Thief 3 and find all 3 special loot items. I don’t find anything to help me out on my quest for info on the hag though. Since it is the only thing to do, I decide to head back and get the vial of blood. It is of course still warm…. I then chuck this in a drain in the lobby.

This leads to another subquest where I have to eliminate all items owned by the ghost. One of the asylum patients stole her nightgown so I have to retrieve this from behind a bricked up wall in one of the cells and burn it in the morgue.

When I drop this in the morgue, I get another quest from the ghost. This is an interesting one, I have to collect toys from the patients which I can use at various places to go into the past as one of the patients. While I’m in the past I have to fetch her diary and drop it in the furnace in the morgue.

The toys are easily found and I go round picking up 8 or 9 of them from the patient rooms. Only in this place could an infants ashes be described as a toy.

Each toy works in a different location to transport me back. The location has something to do with where the patient used it. I only actually need to use one toy but if I fail my task first time around then the toy is gone and I have to use another to get back to the past. If I fail enough times then I have to go back into the past as myself.

I can fail by getting caught by the asylum staff who are present as shadowy figures. Since I’m a patient, I’ve no weapons to take them out so it’s sneaking all the way here. If they do spot me they are relentless in running after me so I stick to the shadows and try to keep out of sight.

The girls diary is in the nursery tower. Next to it is some paper giving me a bit of info on the hag. The girl claims to have been killed by the hag back when she lived here as an orphan with the Hammer Inspector. This begs the question, who is the Keeper translator?

I drop the diary in the furnace, but this ghost still isn’t done with me and now I have to clean up the bloodstain from where she was murdered + I have to do it in the past.

The cleaning solution I need is in the lobotomy room. I take an easy option and walk here in the present, then use a gramophone to transport into the past in this room. I grab the serum and am immediately caught but it doesn’t matter as I still have the solution when I go back into the past.

I go back into the past and take the long walk back to the attic, just about managing to avoid the staff. The blood stain cleans off and the ghost is now free. She wants me to follow her to the lobby which I do. I get caught by one of the staff at one point but it doesn’t matter as she is still there in the present.

Unfortunately for me, the cradle now remembers me so I can’t leave. I have to trick it into thinking I’m dead apparently. I’m not liking the sound of this straight off but first I have to shut myself in this cage so it transports me into the past as myself.

I can die in the past now but on the plus side I have all my weapons which makes things a whole lot easier. I have to make my way up the staff tower, which was previously unaccessible and then dive off to make the building think I committed suicide. Quite how I’m going to survive the fall I’m not sure. I run into the staff tower and take the slow lift to the top.

At the very top are a load of staff sat round a table. I have to quickly jump on here and run out the window at the end.

This doesn’t prove to be a problem and I’m soon plummeting from the top of the building.

The city loads and I’m still alive. The ghost is here and wants me to follow her through the city with her vial of blood. All the guards appear to leave me alone while I’m with her and I can’t say I blame them.

The girls body has been hidden away in at the bottom of the fort. By using her blood on it, I somehow reunite her with her body. While I’m doing this the fake girl is being promoted to Keeper prophesier (or something similar). She is no longer able to use the girls form and instead is revealed to be god knows what, but it has far too many mouths and appears to be extremely useful with sigils. I get the impression I was a couple of minutes too late.

This doesn’t look good but the girl is free at least. I’ll have to head back to the Keepers next to see what is going on. With a bit of luck they will be too busy to hassle me on my way there through the city this time around.

This has been the best level of the game, without a doubt but I’m not sure if I could honestly say I enjoyed it. The atmosphere the game creates with fantastic use of sound means that you spend the whole level in a state of dread. I can’t remember a game having this sort of effect on me in years. Games like FEAR and Doom 3 might have come close at times but they are nothing compared to this. I couldn’t cope with 10 levels like this but it really was exceptional and it’s worth playing the game just for this one level.

I was a bit unsure about Thief 3 when I was halfway through but it just keeps getting better. One more level to go….

Thief 3 : Deadly Shadows – Day 8

In this mission, I’m trying to make my way to Orland’s office to find some evidence that he has set me up. I do of course start at the wrong end of the building so I’ve got a long way to go before I get there. I come in near the council chambers where each Keeper on the council has a little alcove and when they want to vote yes to a proposal they step forward. The council starts the moment I step into this room. I hang around in the shadows and listen to their proposal to set guards at the scene of the crime (to stop me returning) and this gets voted in.

At this point I realise I could probably do something about this and reload and try heading the other way.

By going up instead of down, I get access to 2 of the chambers and I blackjack a couple of Keepers from behind which is enough to sway the vote in my favour this time.

This is quite a big level as I make my way through the Keeper’s various quarters, including barracks and teaching rooms. I find a note saying that Artemis has a Keeper Ring which will provide access to the passage to Artemus’ quarters. I’ve already found and searched Artemus’ room at this point but I head back for another look.

A second search reveals the ring in the chest that I thought I’d emptied. Even highlighted in this screenshot you can hardly see it in the top left corner.

All the way through this level I keep running into access to all the alcoves to the council chamber which is a nice touch. I presume if I’d got here earlier these would all have been full of Keepers. I eventually make it right to the top thanks to the ring which slots into a barely noticable symbol on one of the walls and this gives me access to Orland’s room.

In here is a wax symbol which has somehow been used to block all the Keeper Glyphs. Shooting this with a fire arrow opens them up again and will give me access through a glyph in the library downstairs.

There is nothing in Orland’s journal to suggest that he has set me up. Maybe he isn’t the guilty party after all. This only leaves me to search the scene of the crime.

The glyph downstairs works now – before I use it I notice a set of golden scales within jumping reach right above it. These are the 3rd and final special loot item for me on this level.

The door brings me into the hall of statues. It is far too quiet in here and all the time I’m exploring, I’m just waiting for something to happen. There is nothing like this sort of thing to build up the tension.

I finally see what I think is someone to knock out….

…but when I get a bit closer they have also been turned to stone. This really doesn’t look good.

The note in this gargoyles mouth doesn’t make me feel any better. No one should know I’m here. Although the note doesn’t mention it, I now have a new objective to go back to the hall of statues. 

A mysterious hag, whos face I don’t get to see is in here and uses glyphs to bring the statues to life before teleporting out of there.

My first thought is to just make a run for the exit. The statues turn out to be seriously fast for their size and there is a tense couple of minutes while I run away with their plodding footsteps right behind me. I make it to the exit but I have to wait for the glyph door to open and one hit from a statue has me down.

Second time around, I take the sneaky approach and manage to get to the door without being spotted. I then climb out of the door to escape the level.

This has been an excellent level overall. I especially liked the final part which was easily the scariest in the game so far but even before that it provided a good challenge. The Keeper’s were a lot less static in their patrols and tended to wander all over the level, making it much harder for me to clear one room out at a time. I liked the touch with the council chambers also and being able to hear the debate going on while I’m sneaking around taking out councillors was a nice touch.

Orland appears to be innocent at this point so I need to find out more about this Hag. The only person I’ve heard about in connection to the hag is the Hammer Inspector so I have to go to Auldale to seek him out.

A bit of running about the city later and I trigger a cutscene where the Inspector tells me a tale about an ancient, yet never aging hag who prowls Auldale murdering the unwary. He saw her once as a youth in his orphanage but he has never dared to go back since. That sounds like the place to go.

I was intending to buy some equipment first but I stumble into the mission by accident when I’m walking around the city and figure I may as well go for it.

This does not look like a cheery place. I’ve been hearing a lot about how good this level is so I leave it here for now and will pick this up again later today so I can play it slowly and appreciate it. I’ve ramped the difficulty back up to Expert again so I can play it properly and I’m really looking forward to this one.

Thief 3 : Deadly Shadows – Day 7

According to my objectives, I need to climb a water pipe to get into the clock tower. I look around for ages before I spot this rune here. Those gloves I bought earlier come in handy now as I don’t think I’d be able to get to this rune without them.

This starts the clock-tower mission. I appear to start at the top of the tower and have to work my way down to the bottom, not sure how that happened but down is probably easier than up. There are a load of Hammerites about and the associated workings of a clock, including huge pendulums and gears all of which crush or mangle me if I get in the wrong place. I should mention that I’m doing this mission on normal difficulty as for some unknown reason the game defaults back to this before every mission. I’m not too worried about this as it will save me searching around for the few last bits of treasure which has been something of a chore in earlier levels.

As I work my way down through the clock there are the usual Hammerite temples. The building is quite elaborate for a clock tower but it would need to be to make a complete mission. I’d half expected this to be another side quest before the real mission started.

There is an area where I have to jump down through the beams and walkways of a very tall room. Not sure how I’d get back up from here but I’m informed it would be possible. Since I’m on Normal difficulty, I’m miles over the 40% required treasure though so I don’t end up having to go back and find anything I missed. Instead I head for a large room at the bottom of the tower containing the clock mechanism. There are instructions on what I need to do in here.

It boils down to pulling a few levers and once I’ve done this the mechanism grinds to a halt and the clock-tower comes crashing down.

There is a cutscene where I’m put on trial by the Keeper’s for a murder that happened while I was away. Quite a few of the Keepers speak up for me but their leader condemns me anyway and I have to make a quick escape back to the city.

In addition to avoiding the Watch, I now have to try to keep out of the way of hordes of Keepers that are after me. The city levels haven’t been too bad so far but it is around this point that I start to get fed up of running through the same streets having to knock out the same guards. With all these Keepers nowhere is safe this time. The Watch and the Hammers do appear to attack the Keepers on sight so a good strategy appears to be just running through the levels and getting the two sides to fight it out.

Running straight through is more or less my standard strategy anyway by this point. I just don’t have the patience to sneak through them every single time.

My objective is to go and see my fence for help but when I get there no one is home.

I do find a note that tells me to go back to my home which I then do.

A Keeper is waiting for me when I get there but I deal with them and read another note which sends me to Black Alley.

When I get to the alley, there is a new swirly blue thing which takes me to the graveyards.

This triggers a cutscene where I meet up with a few Keepers. Fortunately these ones are on my side and realise that the traitor is none other than the head Keeper himself. This is evidenced by the clock tower rubble forming a giant arrow pointing to his quarters and thereby fulfilling the prophecy about the traitor being revealed when time was stopped. Unfortunately there is no evidence against the guy (a building sized arrow pointing at him isn’t sufficient apparently) so that’s going to be my next mission.

This means that it’s back to the Keeper Library. None of the runes are working any more so I have to use my gloves to climb in through the window and then make my way to his quarters where there is a secret passage to the Keeper compound.

I’ve managed not to change the difficulty again for this next mission but I’ll probably just plough on anyway rather than playing from an old savegame. The rewards for increasing the difficulty aren’t as obvious as in Thief 1 & 2. It seems like it is exactly the same objectives every time. i.e. 90% treasure + 3 special items, which at normal becomes 40% + 1 item. Thief 2’s extra tasks were much more interesting.

I enjoyed the clock-tower mission although again it did feel quite short. I would have had to go back and search a bit more on a harder difficulty level but I don’t think I missed all that much as I made an effort to explore everywhere. I was expecting the missions to get bigger throughout the game but it hasn’t happened yet and if anything the last couple have been smaller than some of the earlier ones. The city is definitely padding the game out and the series of notes was just an excuse to get me to run around between a few familiar locations. At this point I’m wishing I could just skip to the missions each time but I guess I’m stuck with another couple of jaunts about the city before I finish the game. I think there is still another area I’ve not been to so at least I should be exploring somewhere new.