This is from the January 1999 PC Zone.
The penultimate mission starts with me discovering dead bodies on the way to the temple. Something is amiss….
I had been wondering how I was going to sneak in through the front door but when I get there the place is a mess with more bodies and statues toppled.
Constantine has been here first and the beasts from the last level are patrolling the corridors. There is a lot more shade here so I’m better able to sneak up and blackjack them than in the previous level.
Apart from the destruction the temple is the same as before. For the most part its empty. There are a few bonus items to pick up for exploring but the main area of interest is the altar which has been moved to reveal a ladder to underground caverns.
I’m not clear on what this area is supposed to be but there is a large series of rooms including some very strange areas like this one floating in a void. The level is well guarded by the same creatures as before + a new variety of spider which is particularly nasty. On the whole I’m finding progress here a lot easier though.
I find a window with the Hammerites behind it. They are under siege by Constantine’s troops. Their high priest has been kidnapped and they want me to rescue him. They also ask me to return their sacred chisel which I’ve already found this amongst some spiders higher up.
TO help me out he gives me a map and a key. The key opens up the only locked door I’ve found upstairs.
I soon come across the area with the high priest. This has 3 guards around a campfire and isn’t the easiest place to sneak into. I use a water arrow to put out the fire + a couple of gas arrows and then blackjack the last guard.
The priest is lying in the corner. I have to carry him all the way back to the siege window which takes a while but is easy as I’ve already cleared out the route.
I get him here but I’ve still not completed the level as I have one final requirement to destroy all insect-beasts. I’m assuming these are the giant grasshoppers and I’ve blackjacked every one I’ve seen but I head out searching for more.
After a while searching it occurs to me that the objective is to destroy the beasts. I have to search out all the bodies and use my sword on them until they stop bleeding. This is a bit of a pain but the level isn’t that big so I soon finish this and it completes that objective. I now just have to walk all the way back to the siege window with my chisel.
This level has been decent without being anything too special. It’s moderately easy with a lot of the map being used up on the same temple locations I’ve seen before. It would have been more fun if I hadn’t had to seek out the insect-beast bodies but I possibly should have thought of killing them sooner.
That brings me to the games final level. The Hammerites have given me a fake eye which I can swap with the real one to stop Constantine. First I have to get to him which means descending into the Maw Of Chaos.
This place starts off like a typical end level for a game of this time with a load of coloured lighting.
It settles down into a more traditional cave level shortly afterwards. I’m constantly having to go down to reach Constantine. There are plenty of guards in evidence but I don’t feel the need to take them all out this time. They all tend to be on their way up so I just wait for them to pass and head on my way.
As I get further down, the terrain starts to change and I enter a volcanic area.
This then gives way to giant crystals (presumably of ice). These hurt if I walk into them and the ground is also slippery which makes this happen quite easily when you are trying to pick up the water crystals placed by each one.
I carry on down through increasingly rough terrain, including a pit of platform hopping above lava until I get to a very strange looking hole in the ground.
The laws of physics have taken a holiday here and I have to swim through a series of tunnels (and up a waterfall) until I’m swimming in the roof above this hole. I then dive out and into the water at the bottom.
The sights of this level continue to get stranger and I find the trunk of a monumentally big tree. I have to go inside here and climb up to the top.
I then cross a particle bridge….
…into a room that looks very much like I’m nearing Constantine. The room is trapped and the lights in the wall shoot at me. I notice a pattern of shadows on the floor which may have helped but I just bunny-hop through at speed and get by unscathed.
Through here is a portal. This is where Constantine’s forces are coming from and one of my mission requirements is to get it closed. I can’t actually get to it from here which means I need to use arrows.
There are four fires burning on each corner of the portal and I simply have to shoot each one with the appropriate type of arrow. This isn’t all that easy a shot at this distance, especially as the various arrows fly differently. I only have one left of a couple of arrow types and have to reload a few times before I manage it.
In the next room, Constantine is preparing his incantation. He has his back to me and I have to quickly take the chance to swap the eye.
Doing this quickly enough isn’t all that easy as he tends to turn around before I manage to back away again into the shadows. In the end I do this by shooting a few moss arrows into my path and running in and out over the now silenced ground.
From here on its just a simple case of waiting for Constantine to finish the ritual. This end mission was well done, concentrating on the sneaking and also not allowing me to ever get lost so the game accelerated toward it’s conclusion. It’s a fitting last mission for the game.
The fake eye does its thing and Constantine is killed without completing his plan to destroy the world.
The end cutscene shows me (complete with new eye) talking to one of the keepers. This keeper thinks I should seek out a book of runes but I’m not interested in helping them out and tell them I’m through. He seems to think I’ll do it anyway as prophesied and tells me to beware the age of metal.
I’ve enjoyed Thief a lot but I’d need to have played this at the time to consider it a true classic. It’s a game that might get better with replaying though, as I’m far from clear about the storyline. I’m not even certain exactly what Constantine was trying to achieve although I’m sure it was mentioned in a book somewhere along the way.
The best levels were added in Thief Gold and were not there in the original product. Take these levels out and Thief would be an interesting game but something of a lost opportunity with a lot of poor levels near the start. If Thief 2 has a full set of missions equivalent to the extra ones added to Thief then it should be the classic that Thief nearly was. This is still a great game that I should have played years ago though. I’ve always found FPS games age especially badly but the gameplay still strikes me as original even now and I’m very much looking forward to the sequel. I’ll have to find somewhere to buy it first but I’m assuming that won’t be too difficult.
I’ve just bought a ludicrous number of games from GOG in their Interplay 2 for 1 sale + I’ve got the 2nd Tales of Monkey Island game to play so it could be a while before I get to the next game on here. I’ve been fancying a look at some of the various bits of Origin literature so I’ll probably start on some of that next, with either Forge of Virtue or Avatar Adventures.
My objectives for this mission are shorter than usual. I have to find some sort of evidence of what the Trickster is up to + I have to escape.
I start off the mission with nothing except Constantines sword but I soon recover my blackjack and a few arrows in the starting room.
This level may be Constantines house again but it’s changed a bit since the last time I was here. I get to go through a previously locked door to start the level and this leads to a cave system guarded by some new creatures. There is a giant grasshopper which shoots clouds of insects at me if it sees me + a sort of imp that carries a sword. The animation for these things is quite surreal, and they march around like automatons. They move noticeably quicker than anything I’ve seen before which won’t make my life any easier.
I can’t find a good angle to approach one of these creatures on its own so in the end I sneak and dash through without being spotted. This leads me into a series of red tunnels full of spiders. I can just about deal with the spiders with my sword and a bit of judicious saving/loading. I can sneak up of a few and backstab them but more often than not I end up fighting.
From here I enter the starting area again and approaching it from a different angle I’m able to get behind the giant grasshopper and blackjack it. The good news is that these things seem to be as vulnerable to this as anyone else.
I keep exploring and have to deal with a load of imps and grasshoppers. The difficulty level went through the roof on this level and I’ve had to use everything I’ve learned so far to have a chance. I still end up in the odd sword fight but manage to fight through them. There are a few healing fruits around the place which help me recover from these but its not something I want to make a habit of.
I discover a couple of tree-houses raised up from the ground on a wooden platforms. I have to use a rope arrow to get up to each one.
In here I find some documents which give me a little idea of what Constantine is up to. It’s enough to satisfy the mission objective anyway. Now I just need to get out of here.
I find a way out of the caverns into what might be a cellar area. There is more advanced sneaking required here but it is possible provided I use water arrows to put out the torches. One of the corridors has a hole in the wall leading to a void. I have a look out here but I only go splat when I hit the void so I give it a miss after reloading.
I go up a floor and the building is starting to look familiar now. There are a lot more plants around than before and some blocked routes but its clearly Constantines house. The biggest problem up here is tiny little hopping creatures that bounce at me then explode doing a stack of damage. I never do find a good strategy to deal with these other than running away. The front door is still passable and I make a dash for it, past the guarding beasties and make it to the street.
For the next level I have to go back to the Hammerites and attempt to get them to help me. If anyone will know how to deal with the Trickster they will. From the sound of it, I will have to sneak through their temple not killing anyone and find someone in charge to talk to.
This hasn’t been a bad level and has had a nice blend of different elements. Its certainly tested my sneaking abilities without being too difficult after a very tricky start. I’d like to push on and get the game finished but the reality is I’m not going to get chance to play this again until next week.
This next mission is going to be a little different to the previous ones. Instead of the usual back door approach, I start the mission disguised and can just walk in straight through the front entrance.
I’m primarily here to collect the amulet but I have the usual expert mode additions. I can’t kill anyone, I have to collect 2400 in loot + I also have to steal the first hammer. This artifact takes little finding and is near the entrance.
I progress rapidly through this mission quickly clearing out each level and collecting the required loot with ease. After the last mission, this is stupidly easy in fact. My disguise means that I can get away with literally walking straight up to a guard, then I get behind him while he is asking who I am and whack him on the head. It’s all a bit silly but I’d rather have things too easy than too hard.
I find the amulet but its over a gap and in a cage. I guess that I can get over the gap by carrying a hammer here. It’s the obviously extendable bridge, the picture of a hammer on the floor and the nearby rack of hammers that makes me think this but I expect there was a note about it somewhere. I still can’t get into the cage with the amulet though.
I find a note with the instructions for this. I have to flick 5 levers in 5 minutes. These levers are hidden all over the map.
The first in behind a platform in the room where I found the first hammer.
This one in in the torture chambers.
This one is in the kitchens.
This is on the ceiling in the tomb of one of the order.
And finally this is hidden in the garden at the back – this one took a bit of spotting.
After doing this task the cage is open. I still have to read a prayer scroll before I can grab the amulet but I’ve picked it up somewhere along the way and head straight back outside again completing the level.
This level was extremely easy but fun enough. Since I got through it so quickly, I decided to push on and get another level in today.
At long last, I have all the amulets so its back to the cathedral to get the eye. My objectives here are brief with no loot requirement, I just need to get the eye and leave.
I use all the amulets and the front door opens.
The cathedral is full of ghosts and zombies and is generally a bit of a pain. I can already tell I’m not going to like this level but I do manage to work my way around the cathedral into a position where I can jump for the eye and take it with me.
Getting the eye was far too quick so I expect more tasks to show up and sure enough as soon as I get out of the cathedral a ghostly monk mistakes me for an initiate and starts giving me jobs to do. First off I have to fetch his rosary beads which are in his old bedroom.
There are several religious buildings in a little complex here and for these tasks I’ll be making my way between them all. They are plagued by the usual ghosts and zombies and its not easy making my way around. I can clear out the ghosts with a sword chop from behind but the zombies are an ever present nuisance. I find the room I’m looking for in a few minutes though, I’m told it overlooked the fountain which narrows down the possible locations.
Next I’m told to go make myself a holy symbol. One of the buildings is a factory of sorts and in here is a smelting pot full of molten metal. There are a choice of moulds in the room to go with it. I figure the hammer must be the holy symbol of the Hammerites and use the hammer shaped mould.
Next I have to find a prayer book, which is in the library building. This is a little tricky to get to as I have to jump onto a table then mantle up to the second level.
Next I fetch a candle which is a lot harder to find. I need to go through the factory building and jump out through a chute. Before hitting the ground, I have to jump onto the nearby shed roof. Why this guy would leave his candle on a shed roof I have no idea….
Now he tells me to go to the cemetery and perform a consecration ritual on his grave. I make my way there only to be told that my holy symbol needs blessing so its back to searching round church buildings.
One of the buildings has a tower with a telescope at the top and a bath full of holy water. I throw my hammer in there and its now blessed.
I take the hammer back and use the items one at a time to consecrate the grave. This is an annoying task in itself as I have to dodge zombies while scrolling through my inventory one item at a time. I’m expecting that to be it but I’m still not done with this guy. Now he wants me to fetch bodies back to the empty graves here.
I trek all the way back to the cathedral basement to grab a body I noticed earlier then haul it all the way back. The journey back with the body is no fun, I’m still avoiding zombies and the body slows me down + I can’t even open doors without dropping it first. I get back in the end only to be sent all the way to the cathedral again for another body….
The novelty has worn off long before this point but I know where the next body is from earlier, up in the rafters of the cathedral. I’m a little fed up with this task so instead of showing respect for the departed, I hurl the body off the beams to the ground floor to save a bit of time.
I pick it up again on my way out then lug it all the way back to the cemetery as I’d done with the previous one and throw it in a grave. I’m rewarded with a key for the armoury. I’ve only noticed one locked door in my travels which was, (surprise, surprise) back in the cathedral. So I head back there once more past the same zombies and let myself in.
In here is a bag of explosives + instructions. It looks like I’m finally getting somewhere. It’s another trek back through the same church building I’ve just done about 6 times first though.
I drop the explosive in front of the gates and shoot it with a fire arrow. This blows the gates, and I walk out to complete this level at long last.
In a disturbing cutscene, I return to Constantine with the eye and he reveals himself to be the Trickster. Him and Viktoria morph into what are presumably their real forms and I’m rewarded by having my eye extracted to give the other eye the power of sight. This betrayal has blatantly been coming the whole time, we wouldn’t have had a plot otherwise but I’m unclear where things are going from here on out. Constantine leaves me to die but I’m rescued by the keepers who hint that I should sort this mess out. Constantine is long gone and I’ll have to find out what he is up to first.
This last level was the worst of the game by a mile. I can’t stand it where I’m sent backwards and forwards through the same territory over and over again. Maybe it would have been better on a lower difficulty setting but the endless tasks from the ghost Hammerite felt forced and the level was spun out for the sake of it.
The tasks in this mission seemed to show some weaknesses in the interface for this game. There are a couple of problems which I hope are cleared up for Thief 2. My biggest problem is I can’t open a door if I have an item selected. This is a pain throughout the game, especially given that doors tend to snag on things when they open. So if I’m picking a lock, the door bangs into my face when I open it, and I have to cycle through my whole inventory before I can get the thing open. Not ideal if a zombie is right behind you…. It also stops me being able to prepare an item on the way to a task.
The main trouble I had with this last mission was being unable to open a door while carrying a body. Then after I throw it down its not always easy to pick the body up again as I can end up highlighting the door instead and closing it again. The item selection can be a little temperamental and a simple task like this shouldn’t be this difficult. These are very minor annoyances and they definitely weren’t in System Shock 2 so I’ll assume that it will be fixed in Thief 2.
The end cutscene had a bit of the same atmosphere that I saw in System Shock 2 with similar sound effects. The visuals have little similarity though. They deliberately go out of their way to not show much and have a very unique style. Its all a cut above average but the games story hasn’t been up to much. What there is has been well done but I’d like to have seen something a lot more complex. I always have the impression that there is a load of backstory I’m not seeing that is going to waste. I’ll be curious to see what happens with these final 3 missions and whether they manage to keep the thieving aspect of the game going. A typical FPS would end with a boss fight which wouldn’t be appropriate here at all. I’d struggle to think of a fitting last mission for a stealth game like this and am looking forward to seeing what Looking Glass came up with, as long as its not more zombies.