In a previous article I talked about the issues that rise from the current refresh and upgrade schedule that many technology companies have in place. This frenzy of activity and perceived notions of obsolescence have hurt the consumer and the market in ways that are beyond the scope of this article.
However today I read a few things that make me think that in addition to a return to real innovation in the hardware sector we will start seeing game developers return to creating truly engaging and entertaining games.
The news was about the continuation of a unique and ground breaking series; Thief. If you have not played this game you should treat yourself and pick up a copy. Thief hit the stores originally back in the same time frame as HalfLife and SystemShock 2 both of these games brought new challenges requiring more than your typical “run through the bad guys shooting” HalfLife brought us an enormous and varied landscape, you had to shoot AND think to survive. SystemShock 2 brought limited ammunition an evolving persona and a single and deadly enemy who had no problems taunting you as you struggle to defeat them.
Thief brought even more, you were exactly what the game implies; a Thief. Not a soldier not a man of violence but a man of shadows and quick/silent movements. If you tried to play Thief like you would Doom or Quake you were soon a very dead thief.
Thief required a different type and level of skill from the player, gone was the cross hair in the middle of the screen, there was no BFG, no rotary-cannon. You have a black-jack, short sword, dagger and bow. The bow you had to manually aim without the aid of a crosshair to help you.
You had to plan then carefully execute your movements. I can remember literally taking hours to move through a single level. Carefully, listening hard to the speakers [This game is what inspired me to get surround sound for my PC] sprinting from shadow to shadow. Always quite always fearing to hear the sound of the alarms going; I would be sweating from this nerve wracking game.
This level of immersion in a single game was in danger of becoming extinct. But now Eidos is bringing back the Thief for a fourth installment. I am looking forward to seeing Garrett again hear the sarcastic remarks and feel the tense excitement as I creep through each new mission.
I hope that other game companies take note and follow this trend, bring us back the games that draw you in and hold you there. There are ideas out there, I know there are. As we talked about yesterday a recession often means a return to older and simpler ways and methods. Perhaps with this in Mind Electronic Arts, Monolith, Crytek, and others will brush off the concept of compelling immersive gaming and give people that value back.