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Thief-II... No, no, It's working, I tell you!

In old Thief-II article, which was written nearly two years ago, I rather emotionally criticized The Metal Age. I will not completely refuse my own words, I made too many dissatisfied remarks, too many to make without reason. But my recent N+1st immersing into Thief-II, which I did to "get impressions" before starting another artwork... well, this immersing made me to change my mind in some aspects.

You know, I even got a little flight! Not just remembered old times, but really caught a new magical joy, taking pleasure by the City's dark close streets, by scary atmosphere of Father Karras'es Soulforge Cathedral, by detachment of mechanist seminary and cosy corners of mansion from first mission. I admit, when today I estimate the most impressive things from Thief series – Thief II gots it's rightful half. By the way, I still didn't play third series! I feel myself shamed before face of all taffers. :) I promise o fix my laches soon.

Let's revert to Thief II... Well, this game is full of imperfections. Yes, often the same guardian speaks and screams with two different voices, so I even began to suspect him in being a covert student of some actor's school. Yes, in several areas level design is just copied from Thief I. Yes, game goes down to several copies of full levels. Yes, pagans turned from mysterious chaotic adepts to banal "Greenpeace"... Sometimes, so big number of bad sides makes to feel upset.

Despite all of this, Thief II has it's own soul, which frequently makes to forget all bad sides. Thief II can repay to all people, who was attentive enough. Hey, developers are innocent – they just had to release game to schedule, it was publisher's initiative to release unripe game.

But why did I blame Thief II so much in past? I simply waited from Thief II the same experience with Thief I, same atmosphere, same degree of originality. All I needed to pleasure myself is to accept Thief II as just other but good game, the more so stealth games were outnumbered those days. In passing, few years ago I believed, that Thief was the first swallow of a full ocean of unique games. I believed, that computer games are to be a new art, a laboratory of unseen. This dream can be considered as realized only partially, and maybe not for nothing. Yes, games were, are and will be industry of making money. But if games like Thief are exceptions, then they became just more valuable.

Let's talk not about vices of Thief II in comparison with Thief I, but about bad tendency of simplifying of level design in Thief series. Let's remember first missions of Thief I. Technologies were weak, but developers made the most of them. Maps included a lot of items – a lot of, you might say, "superfluous". But those "superfluous" things made Thief exactly what it is. Entering Bafford's kitchen, you discovered huge stacks of bottles, boxes and household items. Did you need them to complete your mission? No, of course no! But any of those bottles could be taken and thrown somewhere in basement to scare servants who inhabited those place.

Every of first missions had it's own "spice". Guardian who strikes a gong, servant who brings bread and vine to Ramirez, sword which floats over complex system of stone rings, lights and shadows, traps which protected Mystic's soul and heart, guards in prison (very sensitive unlike Gervasius'es idiots, you had to make a hard work to pass them, because every shadow and every turn of their field of vision were one big puzzle). But in later missions you more and more often met full rooms with just square shape and bare walls. Puzzles vanished, but those which shill could be found were just primitive. Yeah, in Thief II you never had to grasp intuitively, that you have to put skull on gem,s place to turn protecting mechanism off.

In Thief II number of little pretty things, which made atmosphere of game, just vanished. Nothing excess, that's Thief II. This game is just more simple, then Thief I. And yet, Thief II is good successor of Thief I, just slightly spoiled by strict time constraints of development.   

25 December 2006