It is pretty hard to read through all of the noise out there each time a game is launched to really see what people think of it. I don't care what game it is, you will always get the following kinds of comments:
(1) Game runs like crap/won't run at all - why the game always seems to run fine on my computer, I have no idea.
(2) Game looks like crap - check out the Far Cry boards, people say this stuff with a straight face.
(3) Not as good as/ inferior to [insert name of game]/Does not live up to hype - Interesting that no game ever lives up to all the games that game before it. I guess there hasn't been a good game since Doom.
These kinds of comments are all part of the background noise that comes out with each game. Look past the noise, I think that Thief 3 is really pretty good.
Now some games are bad. Some games are great. Most fall somewhere in the middle. Thief 3 is a good game. It looks good. It runs fine. It is pretty fun to play.
The graphics are worse than Far Cry but better than DX:IW. They are kind of inconsistent and it is maddening. Look at the wagon wheels, for instance. Why can't they be round? Is it so hard to get round wheels? It is 2004, for Christ's sake and Ionstorm is releasing a game where wheels are comprised of interconnected straight lines. On the other had, I think that character models are pretty good. Textures are also pretty good.
As you would expect, the shadows in the game really shine. In some ways shadows are done better than in any other game to date. Lights cast shadows on everything. Walk in front of a light and you will see your own shadow. Shadows add to imersion considerably. I saw the game on an old ATI 9000 series card and, without shadows, it is a completely different game.
Ionstorm prides itself on a kind of self-directed gameplay. You are not boxed in and are free to make your own way through the game. This is good and bad. It is good when you act creatively to solve a problem but bad when you spend 20 minutes trying to find someplace that you have to go. It kind of took me a while to get into the plot, but it was worth it.
Lets face it Ion Storm got a lot of justified criticism for certain aspects of DX:IW. I happened to like DX:IW alot, but one thin I hated were the smal levels and all of those load times waiting to switch zones. Well, there is good news and bad news. Zones are bigger here and load times are less (but still annoying). I think that Ion Storm was to deep into the game to change everything. Note to future developers - NEVER DESIGN A GAME FOR THE PC THIS WAY AGAIN.
The plot is very good. The engine is stable. It is a fun game to play.