[page=The Medieval Job]
You move across the rooftops, spying the guards down below. Half of them are drunk, while the rest are too busy to notice you approach. The locks are easy, you barely touch them and they fall open. The jewels are inside. Getting out will be the fun part.
There is something darkly alluring about living a life of crime.
Who wouldn't want a chance to break the law, outwit the system, and get away with whatever dastardly deeds their cruel hearts contain? Come on, admit it. You have those thoughts, too. If the appeal of crime wasn't so fascinating, then shows like The Sopranos wouldn't do so well.
In 1998, Looking Glass Software decided to capitalize off of this idea and create the Thief series, which first introduced the idea of stealth game play to the world, and furthermore showed that a first person shooter could be about more than just running and shooting. Players took on the role of Garrett, a master thief in an anachronistic medieval world, who spent his days robbing from the rich and giving to himself. And with nothing more than a bow, a short sword, and a blackjack, he did just that.
The whole game world was built around the premise of sneaking into a given location, robbing it blind, and getting back out again with as little commotion as possible. As a thief, you can't just charge in with guns blazing. In a fight, you could probably handle one guard, maybe two, but you simply aren't built for close combat. Instead, you must stick to the shadows, using the environment and the darkness to your advantage. Watch the guards' every move, wait for them to make a mistake or turn their back, then strike.
Sure, it can be maddening to repeatedly die at the hands of overwhelming forces, especially when thousands of games up until this point have led you to believe you are unbeatable. But at the same time, there is something thrilling about getting away with things here. When you finally complete a level, not only is your purse literally jammed full of money (and candle sticks, paintings, rare statues, etc.), but you get to walk out of the building, seeing every security system defeated, and half of the guards either wandering oblivious or knocked unconscious (or worse) all around the level. Anyone can blast through the demons of hell or a Nazi stronghold, but it takes some true finesse to rob 'em blind and leave them guarding an empty fortress.
Thievery: Unreal Tournament takes this same premise and applies it to multiplayer, in the same way that Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow added multiplayer to its own sneaker series. Take two teams: a group of muscle-bound guards and a team of clever thieves, throw them together in a building loaded with valuables, and watch the fireworks begin. Not only do you get the opportunity to commit crimes and escape with loads of money, but you can also load yourself down with weaponry and stalk around like the medieval equivalent of the Doom marine.
And that's it. One team guards, one team steals, and the winner is the person who can be the craftiest son of a @#$%! on the map. Think you can handle it?
[page="I only lied about being a thief."]
Though none of the content has been carried over directly from Looking Glass Software's masterpiece, the Black Cat Games team has done a great job of remaking all of the Thief weapons into the Unreal Tournament engine, while introducing some new things as well.
Much like the early, less plot-driven levels of Thief, the matches all center on a target area, usually a single building (though a few levels, like my particular favorite: "Flats", take place in and around the city, allowing you to hide on rooftops, down alleyways, and in the sewer systems). The guards start the match within the structure, while the thieves begin on the outskirts of it somewhere, giving the guards time to set up traps and ambush points.
Rather like Counter-Strike, players are given a chance to buy weapons at the beginning of the map. The different weapons and accessories compliment a different array of play styles as well. As a thief, most of your equipment comes in the form of different arrows: water arrows for removing torches, moss arrows to create soft patches to walk on, and vine arrows to create rope ladders with (among others). However, if you are in the mood for something more direct, thieves can also load up on invisibility potions, health packs, and flash bombs for use in quickly disabling the guards. Really, the arsenal of the thief should be instantly familiar to any of you who have played one of the Thief games before, while the guards are given a number of different options that not only dramatically change their play style, but also grants them some unique advantages.
Thieves are built to stick in the shadows, launch arrows from afar, and try to knock foes out from behind without being seen by the entire opposing team. The guards, however, are designed to set up traps, take heavy amounts of damage, and try their damnedest to not end up unconscious on the floor of the very place they are protecting. To do this, they are given not only plenty of heavy weaponry, but also a decent amount of traps to lie around the level. Security masks can be set up around key locations like security cameras, which will start to scream out an alarm if they notice a thief around. In the more subtle category, you can also leave caltrops (think really really sharp spikes) on the floor or plant mines around in different locations. However, you also need to be careful not to venture into them yourself.
With equipment squared away, you begin the match in one of the dozen plus levels that come with the mod. And in all honesty, each of them is fantastic, both aesthetically and in how they play. Locations range from museums, mansions, asylums, prisons, airships, catacombs, entire city blocks and even an airship, to name but a few. Every level allows multiple paths for the thieves to gain entrance, keeping the guards constantly on their toes to monitor all of the possible avenues of escape and entry. However, none of the levels are complete pushovers for one team or the other, either. Great care has been taken to ensure that both teams have certain advantages, such as noisy surfaces in some of the more prominent areas of a level to alert the guards of movement, or sewers and air ducts winding overhead and below to allow different levels of attack for a thief.
The dynamic of team versus team in here is incredibly well done. Playing as one team, then the other, almost feels like two entirely different games. When you begin a match as the guards, your entire mindset in how to approach the level is different than when you previously played as the thief. Furthermore, you also get to use this prior knowledge of forced entry to your advantage against others who tried it before. It is sort of like playing Unreal Tournament's assault mode, only with far more options in how you can approach a level.
And as with all things, there are some drawbacks to Thievery: UT. Really, I only had two problems with this mod, and one of them was just a personal preference. For me, playing the guards just isn't as much fun as playing the thief. I'm sure your average FPS player will think the exact opposite, preferring to load themselves up with paralysis bolts in their crossbows and thrill at taking a sledge hammer to their immobile foes, but for me, it just isn't as exciting. There is a definite thrill to be found in catching these sneakers around you, don't get me wrong, but it isn't quite as frantically fun as it is in The Hidden: Source.
However, as I said, this could just be my frantic Thief fanboyism at work here. And even with that complaint, there is always a separate game mode you can play where all of the guards are controlled by cunning bots, letting the players all take on the role of thieves competing against one another for the prizes littered around the level.
The more painful part of recommending this mod to people, then, is the simple fact that it isn't being played nearly as much as it should be, leading to a very lacking set of servers out there. Maybe this has changed since the last time I jumped into a multiplayer match for this game (a few months back, when the latest version was released), but there just doesn't seem to be a great amount of players out there. And when you do find a match available, you better have the learning curve down enough to play with these experienced players, because they will annihilate you sometimes.
For those of you who want to practice your skills, instant action is also available, and the bots are actually very good, though I've never been able to get a thief bot to show up (though I suppose they could just be so good that I never found them).
Still, when you can find a match, or load up a single player game, the fun cannot be rivaled. The eerie silence of the night, the thrill of stalking up behind an unsuspecting guard, the shock of lighting a flare in the darkness and finding a trespasser inches from your face, hands resting on some sparkling valuables.....Thievery: UT creates a tense, exciting, and engaging dynamic that will hit you the moment you start playing and never lets up. It is fun, it is incredibly well made, and it is practically a brand new game for free to download. And not only does it breathe life into a sadly underappreciated series, but it is also a fantastic multiplayer experience as well.
Download this one and spend some time indulging in the dark side of human nature. Come on, you know you want to.