I almost didn't write this article 'cos I was worried the topic would be too obscure. I mean, not everyone who reads these things play many computer games, and even if they do, they still might not have played Thief or Thief 2. But then I thought, well, maybe I can take this opportunity to educate people in one of my favouritest games in the whole wide world. So there

For the uninitiated, Thief, by Looking Glass Studios and Eidos Interactive, now available on budget label, is a first-person game where you play a master thief called Garrett sneaking around places he's not supposed to be pinching stuff he shouldn't. For the initiated, I apologise for my patronizing manner.

Anyway, here we go.

1. Being unseen

Yeah, let's start with the obvious one. You know when you're sitting up somewhere discreet and you can see some people talking and hear their private conversation, but they don't know you're there and can't see you from your hidey spot? Isn't that one of the best positions to be in in the world? Maybe I'm just a voyeur but I get a tremendous feeling of power from that. Well, that's Garrett's world in a nutshell! Whether it be a guard complaining about how no-one's come to bring him his dinner or a couple of rich nobles discussing how best to tax the downtrodden, all you need is a nice dark corner and some time to enjoy other people's dirty secrets as they drift over. You can even be unseen if you're in a shadow but silhouetted against something, which is a bit weird, but hey, I'm not complaining.

2. Inducing honesty

There's this one particular guard in Thief whom you cross paths with occasionally who has a really loud and brash voice, which for some reason he uses to broadcast every slightest thought that crosses his mind. Flick briefly into his field of vision and he'll shout "THOUGHT I SAW SOMETHING!!!". Then leave him for a few seconds and he'll bellow "GUESS IT WAS NOTHING!!!!" and continue on his merry whistling, humming and talking-to-himself way. Other guards aren't any better. Make a noise and they're all talking out loud about how there'd better not be someone behind them and how no-one would be stupid enough to break in here. Either all the guards have their brains linked directly to their vocal chords, or this is one of Garrett's strange powers - to make people speak their innermost thoughts out loud when in his presence. I like to think it's the latter. Then I like to imagine what would happen if a couple were having a dinner date in a nice restaurant and Garrett was sitting at the next table.

HE: My, you have very small and unsatisfying breasts. I don't think I would want to see you naked anytime soon.

SHE: That's OK. At least that way you'll never find out that I have a penis.

3. Handy with a blackjack

The blackjack is one of the most important utensils in the Thief arsenal. You're discouraged from killing people, you see, as they might have wives or children or little puppies at home wondering why no-one comes by to feed them anymore. They don't say anything about not biffing people into unconsciousness and stowing their prone bodies away in a cupboard, though! Yes, with a simple biff you've got a guard out of your way for the evening and don't have to worry about poor little Yorkie pathetically licking at his empty food dish one week from now. The funny thing about Garrett, though, is that as long as the guard is facing away from you and doesn't suspect that you're there it doesn't seem to matter where you hit him. I've seen guards go down from biffs to the top of the head, back of the neck, either shoulder, the small of the back, the arse, the arms, the legs, the empty air where the guard was standing a second ago... either Garrett has a very in-depth knowledge of pressure points or certain programmers are a bit lazy.

4. Load/save ability

I know I'm reaching a bit here but I want to include this in some article at some point. In Thief, or in practically any game for that matter, as soon as you make a mistake you can just reload your last save and try again. Now, imagine with me for a second. What if a person could have that ability in real life? What if I could press a little button in the palm of my left hand to save my current position, and press another button in my right hand to restore? I would be IN-FECKIN'-VINCIBLE! It could really help if I was a vigilante crime fighter. I could save the night before a crime, find out where the crime took place, restore, and stop those evildoers! I could save as I fill in my lottery ticket, restore after watching the lottery results, and win millions of pounds! Whenever I have a conversation with someone I could save, then when I think of something really clever I should have said at the time, I could restore and wow everyone with my quick wit! Actually the first thing I'd do is apply for The Weakest Link.

ANNE ROBINSON: Now then, you pathetic little bespectacled loser, what substance is also known as H2SO4?

ME: Don't know.

ANNE ROBINSON: Sulphuric acid, you ignorant little git!

ME: (murders Anne Robinson, then restores)

ANNE ROBINSON: Now then, you pathetic little bespectacled loser, what substance i-

ME: Sulphuric acid.

SEXY FEMALE CONTESTANT: Make love to me, you brilliant young thing!


1. Over-zealous guards

I don't know what it is about Garrett, but a lot of the guards I meet seem quite restrained when they only suspect I'm there. They say things like "Come on out here, son!" or "Show yourself! I won't hurt you!" then they see you properly and sometimes they say "Stay exactly where you are!" and even if you do that they run up to you screaming like a banshee and start bashing you over the head with a sword. Maybe it's just 'cos they suddenly notice that Garrett is carrying an arsenal of weapons and arrows, or maybe they want to get some excitement out of the job. I'm pretty sure Garrett could be entitled to sue if he wasn't left dead and bleeding on the floor in several bits.

2. Money troubles

OK, so you spend a whole level sneaking cheekily about someone's expensive mansion slipping gold candlesticks, expensive goblets and the shirt off their back into a big sack with 'SWAG' written along the side. Then before the next level you get to go to Mr. Taffer's Essential Thief Accessories Catalogue Shop and buy fancy arrows and tips and mines and stuff. Thing is, though, you have to spend all the money you stole in the last level, as you can't carry any left over to the next level or anything. Now, it seems to me that Garrett puts all the money he steals back into thieving! I call that a non-profit-making enterprise! He's in a rut. He spends all the money he gets from ransacking houses buying thief tools so he can ransack houses so he can buy thief tools so he can ransack houses. Maybe he should pack it all in and get an honest job instead. Garrett the Bank Clerk? Garrett the Shoemaker? Or even Garrett the Guard?

GUARD: Look at this scar. Know how I got that? Some thief weirdo broke in here a few months back, snuck up behind me, and hit me on the knee with a blackjack!

GARRETT: Oh yeah. Sorry, I was a bit pissed that night.

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