Thief II: The Metal Age builds upon the foundation laid down by its predecessor, Thief: The Dark Project. The graphical engine has been upgraded for higher color depth and a greater variety of light and shadow effects. The gameplay primarily focuses on the protagonist, Garrett, performing burglaries and infiltrations into human inhabited scenarios, whereas the first game deviated from this by introducing monstrous and undead NPCs for our anti-hero to contend with.
Thief II starts off with Garrett continuing his exploits as a thief-of-all-trades, performing regular burglaries of the expansive homes of the rich citizens of the City. The Hammerites of Thief I have fallen on hard times in the wake of the Pagan attack on their stronghold in the previous game, and a new offshoot sect, the Mechanists, have come into being and are threatening to eclipse them. The Mechanists's technology is more complex than that of the Hammerites, and more closely approaches that of steampunk--they have invented the medieval equivalent of security cameras and sentry bots.
Garrett has a more immediate problem, however; there is a new sheriff in town--Sheriff Truart, whose zeal in law enforcement has been making Garrett's profession difficult to practice. After several odd jobs around the city, Garrett ends up being caught by the City Watch during a meeting with an associate. Keen to get the upper hand on the Sheriff, and armed with knowledge from the Keeper Artemus, Garrett infiltrates a Mechanist seminary to eavesdrop on a conversation between Sheriff Truart and Karras, the leader of the Mechanists. Garrett learns that Karras has been transforming people into mechanical servants, and that he has created a type of rust "gas" which causes people to dissolve into rust. Sheriff Truart agrees to supply a group of "expendable" citizens from the City's jails to Karras in order to obtain some of the mechanical servants for himself. After the sheriff leaves, Karras indicates that he has recorded the conversation and is putting a copy in a safety deposit box in the First City Bank and Trust.
Garrett steals the recording and sneaks into Sheriff Truart's estate to confront him, but discovers, upon entering the sheriff's bedroom, that Truart has been murdered. Tracking down the murderer, Garrett again encounters the Pagans, and Viktoria, the wood-nymph from Thief I. Viktoria tells Garrett that Karras is simultaneously courting the nobles of the city while writing new scripture of the Master Builder. Garrett agrees to investigate Karras's plans.
Ultimately, Garrett and Victoria discover that Karras is giving his mechanical servants to the city's nobles to plant them all over the City. Each servant has an apparatus that will, on command, release Karras's rust gas, extinguishing all organic life in the City. Karras's new scripture calls for a world consisting only of machines. Karras himself has taken refuge in his cathedral, inside an airtight room that will be safe from the effects of the gas. Viktoria attacks the cathedral soon after discovering this; Garrett arrives in time to see her die. Garrett manages to activate a beacon to bring all the servants to the cathedral; when Karras activates the servants' masks, the gas is released within the cathedral, killing Karras.
Much like the previous Thief title, Thief II takes on the role as a first-person sneaker. Each mission gives Garrett a number of objectives to complete, these objectives can vary depending on the difficulty of the game selected and can range from goals like collecting a set amount of loot, not killing any innocent by-standers (or anyone at all) or avoiding detection altogther among other things. Before each mission, the player is given the opportunity to purchase any equipment with the valuables he's stolen from the previous mission. Any unspent gold is not carried over to the next mission. Thus, the player is encouraged to buy as much as he possibly can.
Mission objectives are complicated by the environment and the enemies that inhabit the Thief universe. As they are expected to silently traverse the environment, the type of ground that the player treads across it important. It can either hinder or help the player. Hard surfaces like tile, wood or stone would attract attention and therefore forces the player to move silently and slowy if he wishes to remain undetected. Other surfaces like earth, carpet or moss dampens the player's footsteps, making it easier to move silently.
The amount of light can either hide or betray Garrett's presence. In high levels of light, the light crystal on the HUD will turn bright, indicating that player can easily seen. A slighty dimmed light gem means that player can be seen at medium range whereas a dimmed light gem means that the player can only be seen if the enemy is in close proximity. Finally, a dark light gem means that Garrett is virtually invisible and can only be discovered if someone walks into him. Garret's level of visiblilty also depends whether he is moving, crouching or what type of weapons he has unsheathed.
Although Garrett is armed with a sword and a few weapons, Garrett can easily die if he is engaged in combat as he does not have much hitpoints and he may attract too much attention from nearby opponents. Therefore, it is important to stick to the shadows, move quietly and carefully. Players are encouraged to play stealthily and preferably, without killing anyone. This is further encouraged in the difficulty settings which are unique in itself. At the easiest difficulty, the objective is to simply perform the story related missions whilst collecting a certain amount of valuables. The higher the difficulty, the harder objectives are required to finish, such as collect higher amounts of loot, avoid killing anyone and avoid being spotted at all.
Noblemen/Servants - Simple by-standers that are unarmed and will flee on the first sight of danger, alerting a guard if they spot Garrett. Can be seen doing menial tasks or wandering about the area. Noblemen and women often have valuables which can be pick-pocketed for more loot.
Guards - The basic grunts that are found in the game. Although they may either be the City Watch, Hammerites or Castle Guards, they are all very similiar in many respects. If they spot the player, they will shout out, and give chase to the player in an attempt to kill them. They are armed with either swords (maces if they belong to the Hammerite or Mechanist faction) and crossbows.
Mechanist/Sheriff Helmet Guard - A mechanist guard that behaves like a normal guard but sports a metal helmet that prevents them from being blackjacked.
Mechanist Frogman - Mechanists that are armed with a crossbow. The swimming gear that they wear allows them to swim underwater without drowning.
Mechanists Priests - Mechanists that attack with magic projectiles.
Hammer Haunts - Undead Hammerites, they can be recognised by their skull faces and ghostly whispers. Although they can be killed using backstabs and explosives, they are best left alone as they are dangerous in any encounter.
Zombies - A re-animated corpse of a once human being. These walking horrors cannot be killed through conventional means as a strong blow renders them into a dormant state. Fire arrows or mines are the best method of disposing these poor individuals.
Apparitions - Ghostly beings that haunt the world. They can either attack anyone or be used to flesh out any backstory. Difficult to kill so they are best avoided altogether.
Ape Men - Ape-like creatures that normally inhabit any area under Pagan control. They are armed with blowpipes but will use their claws to attack if they are nearby. Like human characters, they can be killed or blackjacked rather easily.
Tree Beast - Large tree-like creatures. They stand in a dormant state until the player comes close in which case they will lash out at you. Fast and exceptionally dangerous, they are best avoided but can be killed with fire arrows if neccessary.
Worker Bot - Large robots that are designed to perform heavy labour. Although they are not armed, they will alert anyone nearby if they hear and notice the player (these robots are blind but not deaf). They can be disabled with one water or gas arrow when fired into their boilers.
Combat Robots - Large robots that are armed with a dangerous cannon. They can often be found patrolling a path, they can be heard by their heavy stomping sounds as they move and speaking words of praise of Karras. Two water arrows or one gas arrow fired into the boilers on the back of these robots is enough to disable them.
Watchers - Also known as the "Eyes of Karras" these machines act like security cameras. Though unarmed, they can make life difficult by either setting off an alarm, activating turrets or closing and locking certain gates to prevent escape. Their weakness is that it cannot see directly underneath themselves, which make it an ideal spot to hide under. Watchers only activate if they see Garrett as they cannot hear anything and will not react to any other disturbances like corpses or bloodstains. They can normally be de-activated when the appropiate switch is triggered.
Weapons and Equpiment
Throughout the game, the player can find a variety of tools and weapons that allows Garrett to perform objectives with ease.
Blackjack - A small wooden club that Garrett always carries around with him. Though it has low combat abilities, the blackjacks' purpose is to knock out unsuspecting opponents from behind, rendering them unconscious. However, this only works if the character is not alert and unaware of the player's presence. As it can be used to knock out opponents without killing them, the blackjack is essential on the higher difficulties. It can also be used to attract attention when struck against a surface.
Sword - A weapon that Garrett can use to defend himself should he come across any dangerous opponent. When equipped, the player can either perform a simple slash, a hard slash or an overhead swing depending on how long the mouse button is held. As well as this, Garrett can instantly kill an opponent by backstabbing them as long as they are unaware of Garrett's presence. The sword can also be used for more pratical purposes like parrying attacks, attracting attention when struck against a surface or slashing away any tapestries, revealing any secret passages.
Bow - Perhaps the most useful weapon found in Garrett's arsenel. The bow acts more like a tool then a weapon as it can be used in conjuction with a variety of arrows that has special effects as the table below illustrates;
|Arrow Name||Uses and Abilities||Price|
- Deals damage to opponents.
- Stealth kills when aimed at the head of an unsuspecting opponent.
- Attracting attention.
- Triggering switches that are out of reach.
- Extinguishing fire-based light sources.
- Cleaning up blood stains.
- Disabling Mechanists robots when fired into their boilers.
- Creates a small, soft surface of moss that allows the player to traverse across quietly.
- Creates a long rope when fired onto a soft surface (such as wood or earth) which can be climbed to reach elevated postions or used as a means of escape. Is reusable when picked up.
- Has the exact properties as the rope arrow but can be used on metal surfaces as well.
- Creates a loud, clicking sound when fired, distracting anyone nearby. Can be picked up to be used again. Does not stick to surfaces.
- Dealing considerable damage to opponents.
- Re-lighting torches.
- Portable light source.
- Distracting opponents with the large explosion it creates.
- Emits a toxic cloud of gas, knocking any biological creatures into an unconcious state.
- Extinguishing any fire-based light sources.
- Disabling Mechanists robots when fired into their boilers.
Breath Potion - A small potion that, when consumed, fully restores Garrett's oxygen levels, allowing him to stay underwater for longer. Costs 125 Gold.
Slow-Fall Potion - Should the player find themselves from a high postion with no safe or fast method or getting to the ground, the Slow-Fall potion is preferred potion of choice. When drunk, it reduces their falling speed allowing them to reach lower areas safely and quietly. Purchased for 150 Gold.
Healing Potion - A small vial of liquid that restores a portion of Garrett's hitpoints when consumed. Bought for 250 Gold.
Speed Potion - This red bottle liquid would make the player move faster and jump farther for 9 seconds when drunk. Useful for quickly escaping or for sneaking past quickly. Worth 300 Gold per bottle.
Invisibility Potion - An expensive and rare potion that renders the drinker invisible. When drunk the player is invisible for 10 seconds regardless of light levels or movement. However, the player's footsteps can still be heard should they step onto any loud surfaces. Opponent's will still fail to to notice the player even if they walk into them. You'll be 600 Gold lighter when purchased.
Mines and Bombs
Frogbeast Egg - These eggs contain a small frog-like creature within. When thrown onto the ground, the frogbeast is released and will attack any opponents it sees. It does this by hopping towards them and exploding once it gets within close contact. If it does not see anyone the creature would simply hop about, croaking, attracting anyone nearby to come and investigate. It will not attack Garrett unless the player is in close vicinity to the explosion. Can be purchased for 200 Gold.
Flashbomb - This small contraption emits a blinding light in the area is thrown to (including the thief if they are not careful). Anyone who witnesses the explosion will be rendered blind for a short period of time as they try to regain their eyesight. Within this time, the thief can simply run past them without hassle or blackjack them regardless of their state of alert. A useful tool if the thief is discovered. Can be purchased for 200 Gold a piece.
Flash Mine - A mine that has the same properties as the flashbomb. This mine is placed on the floor and is activated by any unfortunate individual who steps on it, blinding them and anyone else nearby. It is worth 175 Gold.
Explosive Mine - This mine, when placed on the floor, will create a deadly explosion damaging anyone in close vicinity. The explosion would also attract the attention of anyone nearby. This mine also creates a distinctive ticking sound when deployed. Use with caution. Purchased for 350 Gold.
Gas Mine - This mine works exactly like the Gas arrow but in mine form. When placed and activated, the mine will quietly sit and wait for any creature to come across it. Once triggered, the mine engulfs the individual in a toxic gas, knocking them unconcious. Can be purchased for a hefty sum of 500 Gold.
Flare - A small rod that illuminates when used. It lasts for 17 seconds and can be purchased for 25 Gold each.
Lockpicks - These handy lockpicks consisting of a triangular head and a square head can be used to unlock most, if not all, locks (in which case the required lock must require a certain key). The lockpicks can also be used to disable any mines as long as they are approached with caution. Garrett is always equipped with these and they cannot be lost.
Scouting Orbs - These small camera-like contraptions can be used in conjuction with Garrett's mechanical eye. When deployed, the player can use these orbs to safely observe the environment from the orb's position. They cost 300 Gold.
- Windows 95/98/Me/XP;
- Pentium 233 (Min.), Pentium 400 (Rec.);
- 4x CD-ROM drive;
- 48 MB RAM (Min.), 64MB (Rec.);
- 4 MB 3D accelerator card (Min), 16MB (Rec.);
- DirectX 7 compatible sound card;
- 250 MB hard drive space (Min.).