Probably no post this week (22/04/2014) thanks to bank holiday weekend and my current playing habits being all over the place.
I told myself I wasn’t going to write a 2,000 word review about One Finger Death Punch, but here we are anyway.
“POLICE! HANDS IN THE AIR!”
You get to hear that phrase a lot in SWAT 4. You and your squadmates will scream it several dozen times per mission. For once this isn’t because of a very limited number of stock responses a la the Elder Scrolls, and neither is it an amusing audio bug; instead, you want to be announcing your presence as loudly as possible when you enter a room. You want hostages to stay down, you want armed criminals to surrender, and most of all what you don’t want is to shoot a gunman without warning them first, because the SWAT series are the only games I’m aware of that have actual honest-to-god rules of engagement.
This was never going to end well. You can’t resurrect a franchise that’s near-legendary in its ability to make those who played it at the time wax nostalgic about Hammerites and Taffers and expect to please both those people and the new audience of console gamers that this new Thief is designed to attract. Last time that happened we got Thief: Deadly Shadows, and despite being a decent game in its own right it’s something that gets looked down on a lot for not being as good as the originals. When you look at it that way, Thief wins the smallest of victories: it isn’t quite as bad as I was expecting, and I don’t completely hate it. Thief is an okay stealth game, and if its development had gone smoothly I dare say we might even have gotten something on the level of Deadly Shadows out of it. Unfortunately its development didn’t go smoothly (you don’t take five years to make a game like this without fucking up badly at several points along the way) and so Thief ends up being something more like The Bureau: it’s a hodgepodge of ideas and mechanics thrown together into something whose shortcomings and general lack of polish ensure that it’s far less than the sum of its parts.