Having said that, it’s also larger, with considerably more hidden secrets, more nooks and crannies and little incidental surprises for you to find. These include the "Client" missions, which despite being stupidly tucked away and easily missed, are probably the best bits of the entire game. Garrett's two "clients" offer him short half-hour excursions to steal a specific object from a unique location in the city. These special missions are smaller in scope than those of the main story, usually involving stealing from a house or a shop. But as a consequence there are also more ways to approach them. Do you try to slip through the front door, and hope nobody notices, or search the back of the building for a less traditional entrance? Thief was always at its strongest when it involved good old fashioned housebreaking, nicking stuff from eccentric nobles and eavesdropping on their colourful servants and guards, and both the Client and Basso missions prove this once again.
Around mission six the story finally remembers this, offering up an enormous mansion for you to wander around freely, and utilise all of the tools at your disposal. Like the rest of the game, Garrett's equipment and abilities are a mixture of brilliant, strange, and disappointing. The best new addition is the "swoop" mechanic, which enables Garrett to lurch forward with a short burst of speed. It's a sensible addition to his talents, and proves very useful if you need to bounce between shadows.
Also available is the "focus" ability, a power Garrett gains for story reasons that heighten his senses and reflexes. This can be upgraded with focus points, and tailored with specific powers such as the ability to counter attacks in combat, or to help Garrett conceal himself for longer when stepping into the light. Like many other player aids in the game, it can be disabled completely for a purer Thief experience. To be honest, we didn't use it for anything other than spotting traps, but it's there if you want it.
The weakest aspect of Garrett's arsenal are, sadly, his arrow based gadgets. The water arrows don't have much of a splash to them, the gas arrows have been replaced with "choke" arrows that only stun opponents rather than knocking them out, and worst of all, the rope arrows can only be used in very specific places, in accordance with Garrett's oppressively choreographed animations. The offensive arrows, broadhead, sawtooth, fire and blast, are sufficiently punchy, but rarely used if you're playing Thief stealthily.
Before we bag up and blow this joint, there are a few technical issues that need to be discussed. There's a weird glitch where the aspect ratio switches from widescreen to 4:3 after talking to certain characters, and requires you to quit to the main menu to reset. In addition, pretty embarrassingly for a Thief game, some of the sound balancing leaves a lot to be desired. Mainly it's the music, which can be so loud it drowns out the voices of characters speaking, and it will suddenly start playing at random points during a mission, which is bloody terrifying to be honest. Oh, and one other thing that is vastly annoying on a personal level, when you read a book or a note the game diverts to a sub-menu where such literature is kept, rather than having them written out as in a book or a piece of paper.
Thief is a strange one. Not as good as we'd hoped, but better than we expected. Worries that Square Enix had turned it into a mainstream-baiting action-adventure were unfounded. It is unquestionably a stealth game, and one that can be tweaked to be as challenging and demanding as you please. There's no doubt that it fumbles the opening worse than a pickpocket with broken fingers, and the main missions aren't open enough to offer the breadth of burglary options we would like. Yet slowly, gradually, it grows into a game that is worthy of the title, helped greatly by the open-world and the superb side missions. Not a masterpiece, then, but not a disaster either.