Iden­tity theft

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Square Enix an­nounced Thief (p86) in 2009, but only deemed it fit for pub­lic eyes a year ago. The re­sponse to the di­rec­tion in which Ei­dos Mon­treal had taken this sto­ried se­ries was, to put it mildly, mixed. The de­vel­op­ment team changed tack, but Thief is still a game with a mud­dled sense of self. Gar­rett has been re­born with Con­nor Ken­way’s freerun­ning, Nathan Drake’s plat­form­ing and Bruce Wayne’s en­vi­ron­ment scan­ning, so the end prod­uct only truly feels like a Thief game when you turn off as many of these ad­di­tions as you can and look past those you can’t. It is a game with a clear iden­tity cri­sis. Thank­fully, the mid-de­vel­op­ment volte-face just about pays off.

FromSoft­ware, how­ever, knows ex­actly what it wants to do, and will stick to its guns even if the end doesn’t al­ways jus­tify the means. Thank­fully, Dark Souls II (p82) is no Steel Bat­tal­ion: Heavy Ar­mor. It’s ev­ery bit the Souls se­quel we’d hoped for, de­spite those early prom­ises of greater ac­ces­si­bil­ity. FromSoft­ware claims that was a mis­trans­la­tion, and given that we died over 300 times in our 50-hour trek across Dran­gleic, we’re now in­clined to be­lieve it.

Up­dat­ing a clas­sic can’t be easy. The weight of fan ex­pec­ta­tion rubs up against the de­sires of the de­vel­op­ment team, mar­ket­ing’s PR plan and the board­room’s eye on the bal­ance sheet. It’s the de­vel­op­ers who can ig­nore some of those fac­tors that have the great­est chance of suc­cess. FromSoft­ware would surely never take or­ders from Namco, and Jeff Min­ter takes or­ders from no one – TxK (p96) is his third of­fi­cial crack at a Tem­pest re­make, and it hap­pens to be his best yet. We’re not say­ing the an­swer is to live on a re­mote Welsh farm sur­rounded by an­i­mals, but too many cooks very nearly spoiled Thief’s broth, and at least Min­ter’s live­stock let him get on with his work in peace.

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