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2010/03/21

Apocalypse Then – Thief II: The Metal Age

ThiefII Ten Years of Thief II

On this day in gaming, back in 2000, Thief II: The Metal Age was released.

The game once again centres around Garrett the Master Thief – the greatest thief the world has never seen.

In this game, Garrett was up against a new threat in the Mechanists – a splinter group of the Hammerites, and their maniacal leader Karras, who planned a terrible fate for The City and its inhabitants. Along the way, Garrett meets old allies and enemies from his previous adventures. Surprisingly, although some hold grudges, they end up working together, somewhat reluctantly, to take down this new, greater, enemy.

The game was developed by the now defunct Looking Glass Studios, the guys behind the original Thief and System Shock games. It was published by Eidos Interactive, and was only ever released on PC.

The game looked similar to the first one as far as looks go. It used the same Dark engine, with a few graphical improvements but there were some new additions, like weapons, tools, and power ups, as well as new enemy types, with hardly any from Thief: The Dark Project making an appearance.

Players engaged in more thief-like behaviour, like robbing people and more stealth and sneaking around, rather than TDP’s tomb raiding and darker missions. The levels were bigger and better designed than the original, and less linear, with great levels like “Life of the Party” illustrating this.

This was LGS’s swan song, seeing as although they planned a Thief II: Gold, just like the original received, with extra missions and such, the company closed down.

The game did receive a sequel in Thief: Deadly Shadows, otherwise known as Thief III, which was developed by Ion Storm, makers of Deus Ex and Deus Ex: Invisible War. This Thief, although not bad, was considered the low point of the series so far. Another Thief game, referred to as Thi4f or Thief 4, is currently in development at Eidos Montreal, who are also working on Deus Ex: Human Revolution, once known as Deus Ex 3.

Funny how these games, Deus Ex, Thief, and System Shock always seem to be linked to each other in some way or another. Deus Ex took the stealth elements from the Thief series, and the RPG ones from the System Shock series.

However, the fan base for the Thief games is still thriving to this day, with Thief II in particular receiving many FMs or fan missions, as well as unofficial expansions like T2X: Shadows of the Metal Age. Other notable mods, like The Dark Mod, seek to recreate the Thief experience, but in newer engines like the Doom 3 or id Tech 4 engine in TDM’s case. Various incarnations of the Unreal engine have been used for other Thief-inspired mods like Thievery and Nightblade.

Thief II: The Metal Age remains my favourite in the series so far, with excellent story-telling, and gameplay. And not to mention I’ve always had a soft spot for castles and medieval architecture, which this game has plenty of. Not to mention, Garrett is one of the best protagonists, or anti-heroes, of any game.

You can pick up Thief II: The Metal Age here if you want to play a classic.


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