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Video Game / Thief II: The Metal Age

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He poured his children's eyes from glass, and from steel wrought their hands, that none could escape his judgement.
The New Scripture of the Master Builder

Thief II: The Metal Age is the second game in the Thief series, which honed both the original's stealth gameplay, and its Immersive Sim mechanics. It was also, sadly, the final game created by Looking Glass Studios before it filed for bankruptcy. Four years later, another sequel emerged, developed by Ion Storm.

Following the events of The Dark Project, Garrett returned back to his old profession as he observed more technological advances in the hands of the Mechanists, an offshoot to the Order of the Hammer. When overhearing its leader making deals with a corrupt sheriff who seems to have it out for him, Garrett sought to investigate the intentions of the new sect, ending up embroiled in an escalating conflict.

Since Looking Glass folded very shortly after release, Thief II Gold, which similarly to Thief Gold would have added levels and bugfixes, never saw release, but there have been attempts by fans to develop a remake based on existing documentation.

This game provides examples of:

  • All in a Row: A few groups of police and guards act this way, e.g. Cavador's bodyguards follow Cavador.
  • Arc Welding: In the first game you repeatedly encountered "Smart Guard" and "Dumb Guard" (AKA Benny), who were voiced by the same people and had consistent personalities. However, the game never explicitly stated that these were all the same two characters. In this game they continue to appear and you can overhear conversations between them which confirms that yes, it is the same two guys who just happen to have the bad luck of repeatedly getting hired by new employers shortly before Garrett robs them.
  • Automatic Crossbows: The Mechanists sometimes wield small pistol-styled auto-crossbows.
  • Bad Moon Rising: The second-to-last mission, "Masks", has a red full moon in the night sky.
  • Bank Robbery: The sixth mission, "First City Bank and Trust", is one of these. Oddly enough, the main target is not money, but an incriminating recording. Still, there's plenty of cash to be picked up.
  • Bittersweet Ending: On the sweet side Garrett and Viktoria succeed in sabotaging Karras' plans to destroy the world and remake it in his own insane, metallic image. Saving the City, the world, killing the madman and bringing about the downfall of the Mechanist order in the process. On the bitter side, Viktoria is forced to sacrifice herself in order to do so, devastating Garrett. To make things worse, Garrett is informed by Keeper Artemus that more trouble awaits him in the Keepers' glyph books. In the end, the devastated Garrett finally accepts his destiny and becomes Resigned to the Call, ceasing to run away from it.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The name of the Mechanist's archaeological excavations in the Lost City is named Cavador, i.e. "digger" in Spanish and in Portuguese note .
  • Blood Oath: When Viktoria and Garrett forge a truce, they seal it with this. It's more of a "Sap Oath" in Viktoria's case, since she's a dryad and bleeds sticky green fluid.
  • Blow Gun: A certain type of (relatively harmless) enemy in the service of the Pagans uses them.
  • Body Horror:
    • The Mechanist Servants. Being made into one of these is so horrific, some will thank you for killing them.
    • The Necrotic Mutox. You never actually see it used on a person, but you hear it. The person it is being demonstrated for reacts with both horror and fascination.
  • Can't Refuse the Call Anymore: After spending his life running away from it, after Viktoria's death shocks and devastates Garrett, he finally resigns himself to it.
  • Character Development: The game where Garrett goes through the most of it. He starts the Metal Age a selfish loner, snarking about the follies of feelings and losing one's taste for thievery and professionalism, as well as rudely distancing himself from the Keepers trying to help and warn him. Over the course of the story he is drawn up into the escalating events and conflict of the Metal Age, is forced to work together with Viktoria to survive, someone he hates for personal reasons, and in the process grows closer to her and aids her people against their mutual foes, the Mechanists. He gradually drifts away from his usual biting selfishness and becomes more selfless and heroic, coming to care about her and what is happening to the world, her bringing out the best of him. Unfortunately, when the danger of death draws near, he panics and tries to revert back to his former cold, distant, selfish self at the worst possible time, abandoning Viktoria, before changing his mind and going back to save her, but arriving too late and failing to do so. In the end, after losing Viktoria when she is forced to carry out a Heroic Sacrifice, he chooses to defeat Karras and save the world, accepting and fulfilling a part of his destiny. In the wake of the Metal Age, vulnerable and devastated, Garrett at last decides he Can't Refuse the Call Anymore and asks his old mentor Keeper Artemus for the answers the Keepers possess, and that he has been running away from his entire life.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: The grenade-launching robots can be tricked into destroying themselves by firing their grenades into the wall they are pressed against. Also, they can be disabled by water arrows in the open boiler on their back. This weakness is mentioned within the game; apparently the smith just never got around to fixing it. What's more strange is that those big ugly death machines can be broken easily by Stuff Blowing Up (if you have enough), but the annoying "steel cherubs" cannot.
  • Cooperation Gambit: It's heavily implied that Viktoria is the "contact" through which Garrett is given the Shoalsgate job, and all the information he's provided to help him are due to the fact that the Pagans have already infiltrated the station and are currently trying to wrestle the control of it out of Karras's hands, with the information provided by Lieutenant Mosley, who by then had joined their cause. Understandably, given their past, Viktoria decided to not hire Garrett directly, and instead seemingly decided to draw him towards her and into her cause from afar over time.
  • Cute Ghost Girl: In "Trail of Blood", the ghost of a young Pagan girl named Lily appears before Garrett in the massacred Pagan village. She offers to let him take her doll with him, saying that she doesn't need it anymore.
  • Cutting the Knot: "Life Of The Party" has a locked armory with the key inside the Angelwatch Tower, forcing you to backtrack if you wants the goodies inside. Or with a bit of snooping earlier in the level, you can find an explosive Sunburst Device you can use to blow open the door.
  • Dead Man's Chest: In "Precious Cargo" where you find the wreck haunted by a pirate's ghost.
  • Deadpan Snarker: As usual, Garrett shows this off a lot. Perhaps the best example occurs when Viktoria nonchalantly declares he'll join them and help them. Garrett immediately blurts out "Join you?" in what sounds like a mix of surprise and irritation, and then follows it up with a sarcastic "Not exactly my first choice...".
  • Dirty Cop: Sheriff Truart, but not in The City's traditional way. The organized crime in The City is used to buying off the authorities, but Truart has been on an almost zealous crusade to bring The City's organized crime to heel. However, this is only because Karras has already bought him off for a price no petty crime lord could match. For his part, Truart simply sees the law as an instrument of will, not of justice.
  • Dramatic Irony: Garrett begins the game snarking about his fellow criminal and partner Basso falling in love with a chambermaid and losing his taste for thievery, talking about how feelings get in the way of professionalism, and how he never lets that happen to him. By the end of the game he has developed feelings for the worst possible candidate that he could over the course of working together, the very being who betrayed him, ripped out his eye and left him for dead, and is visibly emotionally devastated by her Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The Markham's Isle complex in the mission "Precious Cargo".
  • Enemy Mine: How Garrett and Viktoria's partnership begins — he makes it very clear that he's willing to attack her, even though he knows how powerful she is, only for her to tell her that they must ally together to stop Karras, despite his misgivings towards her.
  • First-Person Ghost: As in The Dark Project, from the player's perspective, Garrett is nothing but a pair of floating disembodied arms.
  • Frame-Up:
    • The focus of the titular mission, "Framed", which sees Garrett dispatched to perform a Frame-Up on a dodgy cop named Lt. Hagan.
    • Karras records audio of Truart confessing to kidnapping beggars and prostitutes for test subjects in order to hold leverage over him, with the intent to leak it if Truart falls out of line. Maybe not the most well-considered plan, given that Karras would be indicted and hanged right alongside him...
    • Garrett unintentionally becomes this after he's framed for the death of Truart, who was murdered by Lt. Mosley. The watch instantly goes on alert once Garrett gets to the third-floor entrance, forcing him to get proof of the crime before fleeing.
  • Friendly Enemy: Garrett and Viktoria are a somewhat odd case. Garrett sees Viktoria as the monster who betrayed and mutilated him, while Viktoria sees him as a jerk who ruined everything and slew her god. Only because Karras is the threat do they work together at all. There is absolutely no alternative. They do gradually grow more fond of each other, though, making it closer to this trope than just a usual Enemy Mine.
  • Gangplank Galleon: "Precious Cargo" is set on an island with an abandoned pirate hideaway which has been taken over by Mechanists.
  • Gender Is No Object: In contrast to The Dark Project, this game features female private guards, female City Watch, and female Mechanists. The latter in particular is a departure from the all-male Order of the Hammer they spun off from, and evidence that they are not beholden to older Hammerite dogmas.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The meeting you overhear in "Eavesdropping" involves Karras using two hapless beggars as test subjects, reducing them to rust in the process. The only thing the player will hear is their agonized screams on the other side of the door (coupled with Truart's shocked reaction).
  • Gratuitous Latin: The Mechanists called their submarine the Cetus Amicus, Latin for "friendly whale".
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Karras planned to unleash the Necrotic Mutox gas on the City, wiping it clean of all life while he is safe in his isolated cathedral and then repopulate with mechanical creatures. Garret turns this around on him by sending a signal which calls the Servants carrying the gas into the cathedral where it can be let loose to destroy Karras and be contained without affecting anything else.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: The Servants will occasionally utter the phrase "So cold...So very cold..." Considering the nature of their servitude, one can imagine why they feel like that.
  • In Case of X, Break Glass: The game features a Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe variant: "In time of peril, breaketh glass."
  • Insecurity Camera: The Mechanist surveillance cameras can be shut down easily by finding their fuse boxes and pulling a lever or two. However, if there's one central generator room for all of them, then it's usually well-guarded or pretty hard to sneak into. An alternative, much noisier way of disabling the cameras, is to simply blow the cameras up with your fire arrows or by placing an explosive mine under them and triggering it with your broadhead arrows.
  • Instant-Win Condition: "Casing the Joint" has the requirement that you must not be seen by any guards. However, if you reach the streets after having completed every other objective, the mission will still be won even if you get spotted by a guard just before exiting, since there's a brief delay between being noticed by a guard and the mission failing.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In the first mission of the game you can put out a torch right next to a guard post. This will actually cause the two guards at the post to notice it, then argue about which one will go relight it. They eventually abandon the whole idea when they realize neither of them has a tinderbox.
  • Mission-Pack Sequel: Built on the same engine as Thief 1, with the caveat that levels are generally larger and more varied.
  • Not So Above It All: Played for drama. As much as Garrett snarks about and resents his fellow criminals falling in love and losing their taste for thievery, becoming less professional, the same thing ends up happening to him by the end of the game with Viktoria. He ultimately loses her because he tries to go back to the way he was and emotionally distance himself from her in her hour of need, and when he does finally give into his feelings and comes back for her he is too late to save her, leaving him a Heartbroken Badass by the end of the game.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The Mechanist servants.
  • Remixed Level:
    • "Ambush" has Garrett escaping the City Watch in the streets between a pub and his house; "Trace the Courier" takes place in the same streets, but this time Garrett is tailing a City Watch lieutenant, Mosley, to find out about a letter she's delivering.
    • "Kidnap" is a heavily-altered remake of "The Lost City" from the first game.
    • "Casing the Joint" and "Masks" are nearly identical and occur back-to-back. The only major difference is that in "Masks" you can fully explore the third floor of the mansion both missions take place in, whereas you could only look around a bit in the previous mission.
  • Schmuck Bait: In "Blackmail", a hidden secret in the basement has a corpse with some minor loot... along with a Big Red Button with a sign that explicitly says not to push it. Doing so insta-spawns two giant spiders, who will immediately attack Garrett.
  • Sequel Hook: The ending cutscene.
    Garrett: "All this... it was written?"
    Artemus: "All."
    Garrett: "Viktoria's death? And Karras? Was it written? In your books?"
    Artemus: "All is, as it was written."
    Garrett: "And there's more?"
    Artemus: "Yes."
    Garrett: "Tell me."
  • Shout-Out: One of the items you need to unlock doors in Blackmail is called a Metal Gear.
  • Steampunk: Of the three games in the trilogy, this one has the most overtly steampunk aesthetics (with some Art Deco mixed in for good measure), in no small part thanks to the presence and influence of the Mechanists.
  • Take Your Time:
    • The objective description for "Eavesdropping", stressing that the meeting you need to listen in on will begin at midnight, makes it sound like it's going to be a Timed Mission, but in reality, midnight conveniently arrives only when you've made it to one of the doors to the conference hall that the meeting takes place in.
    • The last level, "Sabotage at Soul Forge", also runs into this. You can listen to Karras' impending messages of doom until the cows come home — there is no time limit for the level.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The cooperation between Garrett and Viktoria starts like this, with Garrett immediately swearing to break the truce at the first sign of foul play, and snarkly reminding Viktoria that he is not even being paid for the whole ordeal. Later, he warms up considerably.
  • Thank the Maker: The Mechanist robots reeeally love this trope. "Praise Karras", "All should hear the words of Karras, the words of Karras...", etc. A full list of the phrases can be seen here. This trope is slightly played with though - every robot uses a voice track recorded by Karras himself.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Several levels require Garrett to get in and out without killing anyone. Higher difficulty levels require Garrett to complete several of the missions without even so much as knocking someone unconscious.
  • Trail of Blood: Literally the name of a mission, wherein Garrett pursues a wounded Pagan agent through a destroyed Pagan village, and then through the Maw of Chaos from the original game. The trail goes on for so long that Garrett begins to hope that the agent doesn't run out of blood. He does, but not before leading Garrett right to Viktoria.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: The ironic fate for Karras dreamed up by Viktoria and implemented by Garrett in the end, turning his doomsday creations against him, with Karras as their only casualty.
  • Underground Level: Parts of "Trail of Blood", parts of "Precious Cargo", "Kidnap".
  • Unwinnable by Design: In "Ambush", it's possible to softlock the game if the player manages to get into the Graveyard (at a point in the game when they're not supposed to), via stacking crates found outside Garrett's house at a break in the wall and going over. If you haven't saved your game before leaping over, there's no way to escape. (The Graveyard is visited properly later on in the game).
  • Variable Player Goals: Certain levels have optional secret objectives for enterprising players. "Running Interference" awards you with a hefty bonus if you locate a pair of matching wedding bands (for Basso and Jenni) in the Manor, while "Blackmail" awards you with an objective award if you manage to locate the secret graveyard (which the dead Truart can be buried in, via placing him in an open grave.)
  • Would Hit a Girl: Depending on the player's decisions - and whether the difficulty level or mission parameter allows it - the female guards and soldiers are viable targets for Garrett, and they're just as good at swordplay and shooting arrows as the male characters.
  • Would Hurt a Child: In their efforts to wipe out the Pagans, the Mechanists do not spare their children, as evidenced in the massacred Pagan village in "Trail of Blood".

Alternative Title(s): Thief II