Nupraptor - Scots here from TTLG. o/
Now for my thoughts...
Being an immense fan of Thief, TDP and TMA are combined top on my list of favourite games ever - TDP for the most tense and atmospheric gameplay ever mixed
with an amazing story, TMA for the amazing level design and offering even more freedom in the fictional Universe.
What of Thief III then?
It has a lot to live up to; it has to carry on the storyline which ended abruptly with the end of TMA and it has to give us strong level design mixed with enough new gameplay tweaks and graphical improvements fitting of a game that is the sequel to another that was made four years ago.
Thief : Deadly Shadows, so far, is living up to my expectations.
I have some complaints, but they're really no more than niggles: I dislike the neon blue frob/arrow trails (but these can be removed using the patch - however that breaks the third person perspective but I feel that third person really DESTROYS any feeling of atmosphere or tension)) and sometimes the animations are rather unsteady and jiggly.
Oh, and a couple of the voice actors aren't great. Black Market Mae West anyone?
But if you can look past these rather minor issues, you'll find a really rich and beautiful Thief game. The conversations are as funny as ever, the characters are just as scheming
and Macheavellian - from the servants to the Lords, and there is a brilliant story here (although I'm only on day 4 I'm already hooked and very captivated).
As for graphics, the lighting system is just pure sex. I can forgive some of the less brilliant textures because of the excellent bump-mapping that's going on with the walls and architecture (the sunken citadel has some amazing bump-mapped columns and intricate stonework). I only ever go into third person to study the graphical surroundings because otherwise it shatters the atmosphere so I don't really care that the patcher breaks the third person view (not exactly breaks but fiddles it).
Other new things like the body awareness, a more involved version lock picking, wall climbing, selling wares and buying gear, the choice of roaming the city and faction missions all elevate the game above being "just another Thief".
For those tech-heads who require specs, etc, my rig is:
Athlon XP 2400+ (oced to 2.2Ghz)
512 M PC2700 RAM
Soundblaster Live! (being upgraded to Audigy 2 next week)
Sapphire 9600XT (128M version)
I ran a fraps test at 1024x768 with Max shadows / detail, bloom enabled and no AA, I was getting around 20-30 fps average, occasionally dropping into the teens, so that was unacceptable so I've kept the same settings and dropped the rez to 800x600 and I'm getting a far more palatable high 40fps average, occasionally dropping to the low 30s. That suits me well enough.
Very, very mild spoilers follow -
The story of Deadly Shadows is unravelling very slowly, by day 4 I know absolutely jack outside of an "impending Dark Age" and the referenced "brethren and betrayer" (who you were led to believe was Garret in T2 but no so now) who will accompany the downfall of the world, but there are tantalising threads - a quarantine at the docks, the undead marching again, the keeper's own prophecies are turning against them (and even TRANSFORMING
as they write them which you see in the very first cutscene), and nursery rhymes about an old grey lady are somehow linked to a series of very grisly murders.
All very intruiging.