I remember my first experience with the Thief series with a lot of admiration and fondness. The game brought on a new way to play the emerging market of first-person shooters. When the new game announcement hit my Twitter feed, I was hopelessly optimistic about this title. While the gameplay didn’t disappoint me, it is clear that this is still not fully optimized. The same thing can also be said for the Thief strategy guide by Prima Games.
There is a fair amount to learn and master in this game. The tutorial period does a fair job of walking players through all the nuances of the mechanics, but I found the guide a bit easier to study and learn. Maybe it is because I could read the whole how-to-play section over my coffee and then dive into the game, or that I could easily reference a move or technique I had forgotten about. Either way, this is an extremely useful area for any master pickpocket.
The bulk of this guide goes to the walkthrough portion. The amount of detail here is ridiculous. For the main story, there is plenty to help players achieve their goals. The tips at the beginning for each new chapter saved me a good amount of time in my mission planning. The screenshots for each new room display all the items that are either intractable or stealable. The last bit of niceness is that for those trying to get through the game without killing anyone, this guide does a great job of warning where guards are and where the tricky spots are to sneak around. For getting from point A to point B, this is the GPS players will love.
For all the aid that this portion provides on accomplishing the main tasks, the issues drag the greatness down. The biggest problem is the item listings, their counts, and locations. My OCD just wouldn’t let me pass up digging through everything, and I’m glad it didn’t. I ended up finding key items and documents that the guide did not account for. With 398 items to find in the city, I get that keeping track might be a bit difficult, but that is why people buy the strategy guide. I still have not found everything in this game, and I now have to turn to internet wikis just to finish this game to my satisfaction.
One item of note, the maps are confusing to use at first. It took me a few tries to get used to how the connecting arrows and numbering system worked. In addition, the amount of numbered circles (item locations) really clogs up some of the usefulness in the tighter areas. Once I got used to the maps, I found them easier to deal with as they generally follow the path in which I was taking to navigate the busy streets.
The last two sections go to the client jobs and challenge mode. These work just like the main walkthrough. I didn’t have any issues completing a job, and the challenge modes certainly became easier after reading how to do them.
Now I must mention the digital guide. After talking with our fearless leader at SGR, I went through the digital strategy guide and found a few issues resolved from the paper version. The big one is that duplicate items actually say they are duplicates. That is some time, and irritation, saving for those harder to snag pens. The document locations also appear to be corrected and no longer missing some. I also found the screenshots a lot easier to see. While the online guide is still not 100% accurate in delivering everything Thief has to offer, it is worlds better than the paper guide is.
My last issue is more on personal taste. At this point, I’ve come to expect a little extra out of paper strategy guides. A listing of achievement/trophies, some art, pages that feel like they are part of the game and not some ancillary add-on, and just some niceties to make having the book feel worthwhile. Sadly, the paper guide feels as though it were rushed to market. I get that things like achievement/trophy listings are small in the grand scheme of things, but it feels cheap to not even have this basic item in the guide.
The Thief strategy guide is a very mixed bag of a guide. Once I learned how to use the maps proficiently, they became a big aid. Sneaking around and stealing every glass and pen definitely became a breeze thanks to this guide. What this guide nails down, it does it so dang well. However, the fact that some items are double counted, some collectibles are just plain missing, certain tasks such as the talking candles not getting any coverage, and details on how to obtain some of the harder achievements not appearing really puts a downer on this guide. I just might be the first person here to say that the digital strategy guide is better than the paper guide is thanks to the clear updates made post publication. When faced with which to buy, go the digital route.
SGR Rating 3/5
Author: Stephen Stratton
Publisher: Prima Games
Editions Available: Paperback
Acquired via Publisher