Author Topic: Stealth Games  (Read 350 times)

Lemming

  • Think what it's doing to the mechanism
Stealth Games
« on: July 11, 2018, 08:17:04 PM »
A couple of weeks ago, I played Dishonored and Dishonored 2 with my niece. They were great fun, Dishonored just as good as I remembered, and Dishonored 2 was new to me (although I tried to heavily limit my use of the powers in both games, because they're absolutely game-breaking). My niece asked me for more stealth games. Okay, that's easy, then - Thief, one of my all time favourites.

Having not played it in a good while, and playing it right after Dishonored, it's incredible how much Thief and Thief 2 have that modern stealth games like Dishonored are just totally lacking. Different floor surfaces produce different levels of sound - you're safe to sprint across soft carpet that muffles your footsteps, but if there's a metal floor, you'd better move at the speed of a fucking glacier or a guard is going to hear you clanking around like a dick. The light and shadow, and the protection that shadow affords you, means that you're constantly lurking around in the shade, waiting for a guard to turn their back before you dart across the room into the next dark corner, and then shitting yourself when you accidentally step on a tile floor and the guard suddenly spins around and demands that you show yourself.

Different walking speeds produce different levels of noise too, and that leads to fantastic moments where you're trying to sneak right by someone, or right up behind them to steal a key from their belt, and you actually wince at each footstep you make, hoping that the guards don't hear them, or that you can at least somehow get away if they do.

We're halfway through Thief 2 now and the only parts of the games that feel properly shit are the combat - which doesn't matter IMO, because combat is really a failure state in Thief, not a viable method of playing the game - and the loot objectives. I've completed all my objectives, but I need to go back and skulk around to find 800 loot? Fuck off, I'll just level skip instead.

Comparatively, Dishonored has almost no noise mechanic as far as I can tell - if you drop from 50 feet and smash into the ground shattering both your legs and creating a 1000 decibel shockwave, people nearby will be like "hmm. probably just rats", but other than that you don't seem to make sound while walking. If there were any light mechanics in Dishonored, they barely seemed to affect the game. It's also crazy how easy it is to knock people out - you can even do it from the fucking front after they've seen you in Dishonored 2. Knocking people out sucks in Thief too - they should really wake up after a while, or be able to be awakened if another guard finds them - but at least blackjacking people is difficult and pretty high-risk since your window of opportunity is so small. Again, I really like Dishonored and had great fun with it, but it basically plays itself compared to Thief.

Also, Garrett is a husky-voiced, impossibly handsome, dark rogue who could ravish me anytime. Corvo, comparatively, is just a pillock in a dumb mask, and Emily is a total loser who doesn't even dramatically cover her whole face.

What are your favourite stealth games, and what other ones can I play with my niece after I've expertly ghosted through Thief 2 (meaning: gotten seen by every guard, quickloaded over 500 times, ragequit the game several times in a strop)? I've never been much for Metal Gear Solid or Splinter Cell - yes, I know I just dismissed two of the leading stealth series in a thread where I'm asking for stealth games - and I'd rather have a first person experience because it lends itself better to the genuinely tense "oh fuck" moments that we're having so much fun with in Thief. I don't remember liking Thief 3, although I'm willing to give it another shot, and the playthroughs I've seen of Thief 4 make me think it's all a bit too watered down for me to want to bother with it.

Alternatively, just join me in gushing over Thief.

Zetetic

  • Burying isn't the same as killing.
Re: Stealth Games
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2018, 08:22:02 PM »
I think that the point of Dishonored's gameplay is almost explicitly exploring the interplay of the powers (and limiting yourself if you like) rather than stealth mechanics.

As you suggest, playing it as a game built around the challenge of stealth then the powers are 'game-breaking'.

(Although having said this, Dishonored 2 does include a no-powers arrangement.)

Death of the Outsider takes this even further - Billy Lurk has the most fun set of powers (including her movement power) and a mana mechanic that encourages you to use them even more freely. (Edit: And she's probably the most interesting protagonist herself, even if the plot of the story isn't terribly exciting.)



Heat Signature is quite a fun game, although it's got very simple vision and sound mechanics and not about verisimilitude in the way that the Thief's stealth systems seem to vaguely aim at.

St_Eddie

  • LIKES: Deviled eggs DISLIKES: The Devil & bad eggs
Re: Stealth Games
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2018, 08:24:22 PM »
Alternatively, just join me in gushing over Thief.

Will do.

*gush*

Seriously, the first two Thief games are brilliant.  I love them so much (well except for those stupid zombie levels in the first game).  The atmosphere in those games is second to none.  Proper scary to boot.

Lemming

  • Think what it's doing to the mechanism
Re: Stealth Games
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2018, 08:31:25 PM »
I think that the point of Dishonored's gameplay is almost explicitly exploring the interplay of the powers (and limiting yourself if you like) rather than stealth mechanics.

As you suggest, playing it as a game built around the challenge of stealth then the powers are 'game-breaking'.

(Although having said this, Dishonored 2 does include a no-powers arrangement.)

You're right, I was aware that I was gutting the game of one of its core components, but the idea of a no-powers (ended up being limited powers because I couldn't resist the temptation to teleport myself up buildings or out of trouble a few times), no-detections run seemed really appealing, and did end up being a lot of fun even if it exposed the shallowness of the regular stealth mechanics. I was pleased when Dishonored 2 offered an in-built no powers mode, which I took, and then subsequently spent the whole game kicking myself when I noticed a secret passage or an open window that I couldn't reach as lame, totally-unpowered Emily.

Heat Signature looks cool, and I liked Gunpoint so I'll definitely check it out.

Seriously, the first two Thief games are brilliant.  I love them so much (well except for those stupid zombie levels in the first game).  The atmosphere in those games is second to none.  Proper scary to boot.

I've always hated the zombie levels too, but weirdly, my niece loved them for the atmosphere, especially the two levels set in and around the Haunted Cathedral. That might have been partially because I spent a good half an hour complaining about how much of a slog Down In The Bonehoard was, which probably predisposed her to like it. Of the non-stealthy levels, I do love the Lost City in Thief 1, which really evokes Tomb Raider 1 to me.

Re: Stealth Games
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2018, 08:42:06 PM »

St_Eddie

  • LIKES: Deviled eggs DISLIKES: The Devil & bad eggs
Re: Stealth Games
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2018, 09:31:57 PM »
...Of the non-stealthy levels, I do love the Lost City in Thief 1, which really evokes Tomb Raider 1 to me.

Oh, yes.  That level is the exception.  It's great and easily one of the more memorable levels from the first game.

Clean that up.

I have workers for that.  Now get back to work and clean up my gushings.

Re: Stealth Games
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2018, 09:43:34 PM »
I prefer my stealth third person.

Splinter Cell and MGS being the benchmark obviously.

Dishonoured and Thief are both great. However stealth games now are kill stealth like the Arkham games.

St_Eddie

  • LIKES: Deviled eggs DISLIKES: The Devil & bad eggs
Re: Stealth Games
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2018, 10:19:06 PM »
Dishonoured and Thief are both great. However stealth games now are kill stealth like the Arkham games.

I think that the Hitman games strike a good balance.

Re: Stealth Games
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2018, 10:58:06 PM »
Stealth games are pretty much my niche so this is a good thread for me.

I do like Thief, although I never got around to finishing the first one and never played the second one. I really liked Deadly Shadows though, I remember there was a sort of open-world hub world you could explore and just go about finding a random person and pickpocketing them or killing them.

Splinter Cell's got to be my favourite series though. The first three (especially Chaos Theory which is just about perfection for me) are brilliant and over the years I've pretty much learned every detail of those levels. After the original trilogy things started to go off the rails a bit and I don't really have any love for Blacklist despite a lot of people seeming to like it.

MGS again is another love, but it's interesting how the series was so well-crafted that it transcended the traditional audience for a stealth game. I might have mentioned it before but MGS V to me has the best gameplay mechanics of any stealth game in terms of the challenges and the freedom of choice you can address those challenges with.

Hitman's great. I haven't played the full version of the new one yet (only the trial with Sapienza) but again, the freedom of choice and replayability you can get out of it is amazing. I loved Blood Money too. I can't really remember the earlier ones but I remember Absolution being really dumbed-down and all the different kill methods being obviously signposted, and it took away the fun of it.

I played the first Dishonoured and liked it although I very much agree with the OP's criticisms of it. However it's only following the trend of games like Assassin's Creed and the Arkham games which dumbed down the genre - they all seem to have the idea that if you are encountered by an enemy you can just jump away to some higher plane out of sight, and wait till your health recovers to come back and try again. All the stuff that Thief/SC/MGS had implemented where if you were detected you'd have to blast your way through, hope other enemies don't hear and that your health would last that long. Also all the other stuff - walking levels, sound meters, camouflage - suddenly went out the window. MGS V was the last gasp for the old-school stealth style, I hope they can bring it back but I'm not sure the audience is there anymore.

Honourable mentions to Mark of the Ninja, Monaco (great multiplayer), Styx: Master of Shadows (haven't played the new one), and Bonanza Bros., all great games in their own right. Those mediocre stealth games from the mid-2000s that were just Splinter Cell copycats can fuck off though.

Re: Stealth Games
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2018, 09:20:41 AM »
Honourable mentions to Mark of the Ninja, Monaco (great multiplayer), Styx: Master of Shadows (haven't played the new one), and Bonanza Bros., all great games in their own right. Those mediocre stealth games from the mid-2000s that were just Splinter Cell copycats can fuck off though.

No Tenchu?

Re: Stealth Games
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2018, 02:01:42 PM »
I used to enjoy the isometric Commandos games, then later Desperados and Robin Hood - I used to find them oddly meditative, ensuring that I entirely cleared each area of enemies and hid all the bodies, so the map was clean.

Re: Stealth Games
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2018, 03:04:00 PM »
No Tenchu?

Forgot about that series although I've only played one of the later ones, I think it was Tenchu Z, but I did enjoy it. Never played the PS1 ones.

Re: Stealth Games
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2018, 05:36:25 PM »
Thief and Thief 2 passed me by at the time. Played Thief 3 and absolutely loved it, might give it another playthrough actually. I tried Thief and Thief 2 after completing Thief 3 but couldn't get past the graphics.

Graphics are a weird one, I find if I played a game at the time and enjoyed it then I can go back to it and not care about the graphics but if there's an old game with shit graphics but great gameplay, I just can't get past the graphics.


Re: Stealth Games
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2018, 09:44:08 PM »
I absolutely loved the Thief games. I don’t know/care if Thief was the first stealth game but it was the first I played and it was such nice change from running around shooting people in the head.

The original Deus Ex was probably my favourite game of all time and I played it as a pure stealth game. You could play it in pretty much any way you wanted but as far as I was concerned any approach other than stealth would have been a cop out.

Re: Stealth Games
« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2018, 09:53:03 PM »
I remember playing the first crysis as a stealth game, that was great fun, crawling around in the grass and popping bonces with the silencer on.

Re: Stealth Games
« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2018, 09:58:33 PM »
Skyrim has a better stealth system but I spent hours and hours thieving in Oblivion. Ransacked every castle and shop and big house in the entire continent.

Blue Jam

  • Beefcake McStevens
Re: Stealth Games
« Reply #16 on: Today at 10:45:32 AM »
Different walking speeds produce different levels of noise too...

Comparatively, Dishonored has almost no noise mechanic as far as I can tell - if you drop from 50 feet and smash into the ground shattering both your legs and creating a 1000 decibel shockwave, people nearby will be like "hmm. probably just rats", but other than that you don't seem to make sound while walking.

I picked up Dishonored 2 shortly after finishing Prey, thinking "If I enjoyed 'Dishonored In Space' then I'll probably enjoy this". It was the first stealth game I played and I came away from it thinking I didn't like stealth games... until I played a few more and realised that I just didn't like Dishonored that much. It just feels a bit less sophisticated than some of the other stealth games I've played since. How does Death of the Outsider compare?

Weird thing about there being no noise mechanic- Prey has a pretty sophisticated one and that game has much less of an emphasis on stealth. I might give Dishonored 2 another go- I played as Emily with High Chaos and it might be a very different experience with Corvo and a non-lethal approach, but I'm still not sure I can be arsed. The best thing was going on holiday to Lisbon a few weeks after I finished the game and noting how much Karnaca looked like the Alfama district.

Love Deus Ex: Human Revolution apart from the boss fights which felt like they didn't belong in  a stealth game, and loved the fact that the sequel dropped them entirely. Another vote for Metal Gear Solid V here too- I got it when it was free with Games With Gold and didn't get that far into it before taking a break but after getting through that interminable intro I was hugely impressed and think it could end up being my favourite stealth game ever.