The Thing

a game by Universal Interactive
Platforms: XBox, Playstation 2, PC
Editor Rating: 6.1/10, based on 5 reviews, 8 reviews are shown
User Rating: 7.6/10 - 9 votes
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See also: Christmas Games, Third-Person Shooter

We’re nothing if not thorough in our research here at ZONE Towers. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of John Carpenter’s The Thing and to prepare for the game of the same name, we locked ourselves up in the office over the weekend with nothing to do but stare at each other’s ugly faces and play with a blowtorch and a piece of wire. The air conditioning was turned up to max, the PCs were disconnected and, later on, thrown against the walls. It only took a few hours for the strain to show. Words were said, someone was hit over the head with a chair and paranoia set in as we became convinced at least one of us had been planted by a rival magazine. It ended, inevitably, in bloodshed. And there weren’t even any shapeshifting aliens involved.

Computer Artworks’ The Thing hopes to recreate this experience, replacing the smell of journo sweat with the above-mentioned aliens, a stunning new engine and what could well be one of the biggest innovations games have witnessed in years: trust and fear.

Scaredy Cats

In case you don't know, the game doesn’t attempt to recreate the W events from the film. Instead it’s set a A few months later, as you head the team sent to investigate what happened to the research base. You find little except snow, ruined buildings and charred bodies. Oh, and some voracious heads that run around on legs like giant spiders. But you were expecting that already, weren’t you?

The further you dig into the base and what its previous occupants left behind, the bigger and scarier the monsters you encounter become. Then, in a not particularly original twist which echoes Half-Ufe, you discover that soldiers have been sent by the Government to cover it all up and eliminate you and your team, so they can use the alien virus as a weapon. Don’t these people ever learn? The advantage of this happening is that you’re not confined to shooting ugly critters, there are also plenty of masked-up soldiers to deal with.

While not strictly a squad-based game, at the core of The Thing is your interaction with the team that you’re heading in this investigation, which is made up of soldiers, engineers and medics. What makes it really interesting though, is the fact that each of these characters has his own precarious psychological state, one you must take into consideration at all times. They respond to what you do and what they see, and their levels of trust and fear will change accordingly. If their fear reaches a certain level they’ll freak out and maybe even commit suicide. And if their trust in you wavers they’ll stop obeying your orders or, if they think you’re The Thing, turn on you.

Mostly Human

The crucial element for the success of the game is how well this innovative fear/trust feature is implemented in your team’s Al. You really need to feel like these are real people, if the tension that made the film so great is to be recreated. How they respond to your actions and, and how well they generate fear and mistrust in yourself will determine if you really do become totally involved in the story. It’s the difference between the game being nothing more than a nice-looking, third-person shooter (a sort of Resident Evil in the snow) and it marking a new high in believable, interactive artificial intelligence.

Even the greatest story- and character-dnven games like Deus Ex haven’t managed to build people around you who can fool you into thinking they’re human beings. The Thing won't be able to go that far just yet, but if it gets anywhere near, it’s a step in the right direction. If it can make you care about the characters around you (really care, as opposed to having a good laugh every time they suffer) it will have achieved something very few games have - and certainly no action game has managed. And if you feel affection for them, imagine how much worse rt will be to see one of them turn on you because they think you’re an alien or, even worse, transform into a monster in front of your very eyes, ripping apart the human shell you've been working alongside all this time.

In certain circumstances, losing members of your crew (either to insanity or the alien) will make your life much more difficult, not only reducing your team's firepower, but also depriving you of the way to solve certain puzzles. To work around this, Computer Artworks is ensuring there will be more than one way to get out of a scrape, and objectives will remain flexible throughout the game.

Target Acquired

The game is played from a third-person perspective - as you may have figured out already - and while the controls are similar to an FPS, with a combination of mouse and keyboard, there are a few subtle differences. Running and crouching are both activated as toggles and you can't jump. But the most noticeable change is the absence of an on-screen crosshair, although this doesn’t mean automatic targeting (at least not to a full extent). Instead, there is a targeting mode that shifts perspective to first-person, keeps you still and adds a crosshair. It’s a bit odd at first, and an obvious concession to a console’s joypad, with Metal Gear Solid 2 as the main reference point. But if you want to hit those crawling creatures square in the eye and put the right target ablaze with your flame-thrower, you’re going to have to get used to it.

An original touch is added by way of using both your hands for separate functions, with each mouse button controlling one. With your right hand you use weapons (machine guns, shotguns, even a handy sniper rifle) while with your left you use other objects (torch, flares, grenades and so on). This means you can hold a flare in one hand while shooting with the other without having to resort to some strange gun-mounted torch.

Cold As Hell

Another console element that’s crept into the game is the saving method, which follows the old Resident Evil formula, swapping typewriters with tape recorders. You’ll only be able to save at these points, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Us PC gamers need to lose that bad habit of saving our game every few seconds.

Since, like Half-Life, the whole game takes place in one location, you can’t expect too much variety in the environments. The outside setting is recreated very convincingly, with snowstorms obscuring your vision most of the time and the below zero temperatures decreasing a bodyheat bar with every passing moment. If you don’t find shelter every so often you’ll freeze to death, adding a time-limit edge to the missions where you have to find a way into locked bases and cabins. These buildings have a bit of a boxy look to them, but are given life by the fact this is the same camp the team in the film lived in. You also get to explore the Norwegian base that MacReady visits briefly in the film, complete with carved ice block and Norwegian corpses. One thing you won’t be getting from the movie though is Ennio Morricone’s brilliant and unnerving score, as the game features its own music.

Unnatural Order

Another important element when commanding a team is the interface. It’s no use having a whole set of commands available to you if you have to distract yourself from the action for so long that you lose interest. As you’d expect from a title that’s also being developed for consoles, the interface here is simple, intuitive and a few button taps away.

All you need to do is press the team interface button when you have members of your team around you, and you’ll be able to see the health and mental state of each one as well as the weapons they’re carrying. You can give them the collective order to follow you or stay put, or click on each guy’s face for individual orders. So, if you need an access panel repaired you get your engineer to go over and fix it. You can also give them weapons and ammo or make them give you theirs. Whether they trust you enough to do so. though, is another matter entirely.

If they don't, you can either try to earn their trust (by sharing ammo, healing them, killing monsters and proving your humanity with a syringe) or. for a quick fix. put a gun to their head and force them to do what you want. Don’t turn your back on them if you do that though...

Computer Artworks is already planning sequels. It will be interesting to see how they expand on the premise set out in the film, and whether they will succeed into turning it into some kind of Aliens-style franchise. They’re already working on a way to create random, free-flowing monsters rather than the stock ones available here. And storywise. you can easily imagine a scenario where the film’s computer prediction about how long it would take for the whole global population to get infected if the alien virus got out was taken to its conclusion. Who knows, maybe all this will inspire John Carpenter to make another film? Actually, let’s hope that never happens. Nobody wants another Ghosts of Mars.

Download The Thing

XBox

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Playstation 2

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

The antarctic is a hostile place. Temperatures that can freeze tears before they leave your eyes. Winter nights that seemingly never end. Freezing winds that can cause frostbite in minutes and bury buildings in snow drifts in a matter of hours. Blizzards that can cut radio communications and prevent the use of any vehicles whatsoever. You’d be excused for thinking it couldn’t get any more inhospitable. But you’d be wrong. Very wrong. There’s something buried deep in the ice in the Antarctic, something that's been there for millennia. Something that arrived from a distant world. Something very weird. And very pissed off. The last thing anyone wanted to do was to thaw it out. Which is exactly what a team of Norwegian scientists did when they discovered it. And not only was it the last thing they wanted to do. it was pretty much the last thing they did.

Horrific Antarctic conditions and an abominable creature from outer space. This is the deadly double-act you’ve got to deal with in The Thing. That and a team of so-called buddies who are liable to panic, get taken over by The Thing, or just shoot you in the back when they stop trusting you. The game plays in third person and is something of a third-person action/adventure/survival horror number.

You are Blake, leader of one of several special forces teams deployed to investigate the catastrophe that’s hit the base. The game opens as you and your squad land at the now devastated US base. It’s only a matter of hours since the movie ended. What, you haven’t seen the movie? Sort your life out. but for now have a look at the Sightseeing box to get up to date.

Cold As Ice

It doesn’t take you long to work out the shit has hit the fan. The whole place is a smouldering ruin. There are corpses and trails of gore strewn about. And to make matters worse a storm has whipped up. cutting off communications between the squads and with HO. As the insertion helicopter pulls away, the first thing you have to contend with out in the darkness of the snowstorm is the extreme cold. Spend too long out there and your health starts plummeting along with the temperature. Fortunately, duck under even the flimsiest of cover and you immediately warm up.

Looking round the base confirms that The Thing is a fine looking game - up to a point. The character models are intricately detailed, the lighting effects create plenty of atmosphere, and the snow billows convincingly around you as you trudge through the fresh powder outside. But in other areas, it lets itself down. Shadows are cast into thin air when you perch on elevated platforms. The camera jumps around when you navigate enclosed spaces. And it's easy to trigger a graphical glitch with all manner of limbs and appendages disappearing through walls when you get too close.

Into The Fire

In a game touted as the scariest thing to have happened on a PC. what you really want to see is The Thing. Or rather The Things. And it's not long before they start coming thick and fast. Starting with little cockroach-like heads and legs that come at you in waves, building to man-sized hunks of dripping gore that refuse to die.

In the film. Kurt Russell and co have barely any weapons bar some flame-throwers to deal with the extra-terrestrial menace. Not so here. As well as flamers, your boys are packing submachine guns, shotguns and grenades. Using these to waste the little scuttling things is a fairly easy task. Just point in their general direction and let autotargeting do the rest, or switch to first-person and do the aiming yourself. Alternatively, leave them to your squad members who will fire automatically - and accurately - of their own accord. But the bigger manifestations are a different matter. We're talking the shambling atrocities that imitate humans and other, larger life-forms. These brutes don't die until they've been weakened with normal weapons and then burnt to a cinder with a flamer or an incendiary grenade.

Supporting Actors

Supporting each other in fire-fights is only the tip of the iceberg as far as team interaction goes. Your squad can include a medic for healing the others, an engineer to repair electrical items, and a soldier for general ass-kicking. You can never directly control any of your compadres, only issue them orders and hope for the best. The list of commands is far from daunting with 'follow me’, 'stay here’, 'take this’, 'repair that’ being pretty much it. The only things they do of their own accord is shoot and mutter stuff like 'This mission is bullshit", from time to time.

While it’s all very well barking orders at your buddies, what if they suddenly stop trusting you. thinking you've been infected by The Thing? Or what if they simply panic and start crapping themselves in mortal terror? Above the heads of each character appear floating icons showing their changing mental state. Force one guy to give you his gun and he'll lose some trust. Don't fire at the aliens when they attack and he'll lose more. As your team-mates' trust in you decreases they’ll stop listening to you. and even start shooting you when they become convinced you are an alien. What can you do to convince them otherwise? Well, you could give them a gun or some ammo. Kill some of The Things. Take a bloodtest with one of the testing kits you find around to prove you’re still a member of the human race. Or even stun them with a stun gun until you get the opportunity to prove you’re still human.

The Only Thing To Fear

Trust works both ways, and when you encounter a wandering trooper you have to ask yourself: is this guy all he seems. Because the last thing you want to happen when you’re under assault from legions of scuttling xertomorphs is for the guy covering your back to start vomiting blood from his eyes and turn into a six-foot killing machine. See the Missed Opportunity panel for more on this.

Your other major problem is when your troops start panicking. If they're unarmed, trudging through the snow in the darkness outside and stumble upon a dismembered corpse, you can forgive them for starting to lose it. Again, giving them a weapon can help. Or a quick injection with the adrenaline hypo can temporarily give them the bollocks they need to follow your orders again. A great idea, all this squad interaction and the whole psychological malarkey. But sadly it seems to be a little half-hearted. For one. in most cases you can complete your tasks without too much bother alone, even if your fellows die. And for another, typically you barely notice their changing psychological states. As long as you keep them armed and don’t shoot them in battle, they should keep their shit together. As far as combat tactics go, all you do is stand near each other and hope for the best as there are too few options in what orders you need to give to offer some kind of tactical subtlety. And the oversimplified scissors/ paper/stone nature of the trust and panic systems means it's often less of a challenge to manage squad members' moods than it is a hassle.

The Thing Is...

The game stays movie-like all the way through with its frequent use of cut-scenes to keep you in the picture and set up your next mission goal. These are all powered by the game engine so they're not the best looking and many of the cuts are slightly haphazard, leaving you wondenng where the hell you are when they finish. One minute you’re leaving a building with your pal. the next you're standing by another structure, alone, not knowing where you are, how you got there and why you're carrying a submachine gun and not a flamethrower.

The main disappointment to fans of the film, though, will be the creatures themselves. The Thing in the movie looked like Satan had vomited a man-sized pile of offal and body parts. The Things here in the game look like little computer game monsters. While they’ve tried hard to model their creatures on the various incarnations of the film, it gets a little lost in the translation, and what was awesomely horrific has become a little bog-standard. Similarly, the bleak desolate arctic location provided the movie with the perfect sense of isolation and claustrophobia. But in a game it can all get repetitive and even bland. They’ve done their best to improve upon this by adding many locations that weren’t visited in the movie, but one deserted snow-bound arctic installation looks pretty much like another.

In the end, The Thing has plenty of good ideas. It tries hard to be more than yet another average third-person actioner. And though it is gripping for a while, at the end of the day it doesn’t all gel together as well as it could have. It’s not scary enough to work as a classic 'horror’ game, it's not action packed enough to work as a topnotch shooter, and it’s not tactical enough to pass as any kind of strategy game. We hoped for a classic genre-bending fright-fest. As it is, it’s just another good film spin off.

Missed Opportunity

We Wanted Rampant Paranoia, We Got Rampant Scripting

In the film, the characters and the audience are never sure who The Thing is. In the game you aren't either, but this could have played a far greater role in proceedings. The trouble is threefold. Firstly, it’s no great shakes when someone’s infected as they are easy to roast with a flamer. Secondly, these events are purely scripted so even if you use a blood-test kit on your pal to clear him of suspicion, you can turn the next comer and before you know it his arms fall off, his eyes pop out and he’s shaking like a shitting dog. Both of these factors contribute to the third problem which is the lack of incentive to care or bother to find out whether one of your pals is infected in the first place. Think about it: a) it’s easy to kill him when he changes; b) they will change at a set moment regardless of what you do and the test kit doesn’t work anyway; and c) you might as well have him around to help out in the fire-fights until the pre-ordained moment that he does change. Which all sucks.

Two men lie in the snow, sharing a bottle of Scotch and a look of complete exhaustion in the glacial night. Their bodies are warmed and illuminated by the fires that are consuming their Antarctic base, Hames dancing between the black sky and the powdery white ground. Soon the fires will go out and both men will freeze to death. Compared to the fate of their comrades, this seems like a good way to go.

"Well, what do we do?" asks Childs, still unsure whether the man next to him is a human being at all. MacReady pauses for a few seconds before answering, the frost on his beard turning his face into a hollow cave. "Why don't we just wait here for a little while," he says. "See what happens." So ends John Carpenter’s The Thing, leading to much speculation among the cult following the film has amassed over the years.

Did either of the characters survive? Was one of them The Thing? Will the creature take over the world? While Computer Artworks’ game promises to answer some if not all of these questions, they’re not about to let us in on the secrets just yet. What we can tell you is that the game is billed as a sequel of sorts rather than an adaptation or loose reworking, and that the ice block found in the Norwegian base will be making a reappearance. The action takes place some months after the scene described above, when a military squad lead by your character, Blake, arrives at the base to investigate why radio contact has been lost. As you can imagine, they don't find a ski resort where they can snowboard and get pissed for three weeks. That would be another kind of game entirely. What they do find is a creature from another planet ready to rearrange their internal organs into amusing shapes and spread paranoia among every single one of them.

In Antarctica Everyone Can Hear You Scream

The film was released 20 years ago, but according to senior producer Chris Hadley and technical director Mark Atkinson, there's a good reason why it should be made now. "Up until a short time ago I don’t think many licences were used, unless they were from action films that were very recent," explains Chris. "Due to the continual growth of the industry and demand for new games I think publishers are starting to look more at their portfolio of licences for inspiration. Also I think the quality of licensed products has been raised as consumers demand good games - not just big names." And Universal Studios certainly think they can deliver a good game.

"Universal approached us based on the work Computer Artworks had done with both Organic Art and Evolva and we jumped at the chance to work on the title. The fact that it is 20 years old doesn’t really come into it. It is a classic horror movie that still manages to scare and shock." Given the kind of horrors that have taken place in the US base before you get there, you should experience the same kind of creepy atmosphere that permeated System Shock 2. In that permeated System Shock 2. In that Looking Glass classic you continually stumbled upon evidence of dreadful events if you remember, with mutilated bodies and ghostly messages waiting round every corner. The Thing looks like striving for the same balance between suspense and all-out horror. "The player will be kept guessing all the way through," says Chris, "and will be seeing some pretty gruesome stuff. Don’t take anything for granted."

But there is one huge difference between SS2 and The Thing. Where in System Shock you are completely alone throughout the whole ordeal, The Thing is as much about interaction with other people as it is about anything else. The film, like the original Alien, builds the psychological tension through the exchanges and relationships between the trapped men. The extreme situation brings out the worst in some, the best in others, but there is always an underlying current of distrust and paranoia. The way the game aims to translate this is surely one of its most exciting features.

Trust And Fear

The team you lead into the base isn't made up of lifeless back-up bodies you can switch to if you die, or bots that are pretty handy with a weapon but score low in the personality stakes. This time round each character in your team has a personality and an attitude that will change depending on your actions. Since we’re not talking about creating sentient beings just yet, the most important features of their mental configuration are fear and trust, the most basic emotions.

"Team-based games have been around for a while but in most cases the team members end up being drone-like wingmen that simply help you in combat," offers Chris. "Given the great sense of tension and suspense in the film, we wanted the player to have to work to get the best out of their team members. The idea is that the NPCs have trust and fear. Trust is based on the player’s actions (anything from how long they leave an NPC alone to how they perform in battle) and on the NPC’s perception of how likely it is that the player is infected. Fear is based on the environment and possible enemies. At the extreme, an NPC that loses all trust in you may open fire on you, seeing you as a definite enemy. An NPC that has massive levels of fear may end up cowering in a comer and refusing to move or help you."

Can you imagine that? Trying to operate in the most difficult of environments while keeping your team sane and convincing them at all times that you haven’t been taken over by the creature? This should make you get more involved yourself, having to assume leadership of feeling, thinking characters. And, of course, you can’t remove fear and trust from your own equation. It’s quite likely you’ll be leaving large brown stains on your chair every time you meet a creature, and that you’ll begin to distrust every one of the soldiers under your command. Would you put your life in the hands of someone who could have tentacles bursting out of their arse?

When the PlayStation 2 arrived over a year ago with its much trumpeted Emotion Chip, everyone was lead to believe a new dawn of gaming was about to begin, where feelings would actually become part of the gameplay. The Thing might not revolutionise the industry just yet, but Computer Artworks is certain it’s a step in the right direction: "Perhaps we will be able to make players start thinking differently, and approaching their game experience in a less isolated way," says Chris. "Even when playing a game on your own, this new mechanic ensures that you consider the other team members. Only through cooperation can you be successful."

To make the whole premise work though, CA needs to produce some pretty nifty Al, good enough to simulate believable human behaviour and plunge right into the action as if you were really there. It also needs to be dynamic, responding to real-time situations, which must also mean that things could turn out differently each time you play. Couldn’t they?

"The characters use both dynamic Al and scripts" agrees Chris. "Some scenes will be the same, but there is a lot of scope for things to happen differently based on what the player does. Although the game does follow a set path, the player’s experience of how they move along that path changes, based on how they treat their team-mates and how effective they are at combat. The Al driving the NPCs is pretty complex. They are capable of taking minor actions on their own, but we wanted to limit this to ensure that the player still feels in control of what is going on. The NPCs can become infected during any fight but as in the film they do not reveal this unless forced to, so the player is kept in a continual guessing game that gets more intense as the need for help from the team increases."

Giving orders can be done in two ways. If you’re close enough to a person you can signal what you want (eg need more ammo, fix this) with a single button, presumably in a more sophisticated version ofclicking on a Half-Life security guard or scientist. The other way is with the command interface, which can be used to give orders to whole groups and will hopefully be as effortless and graceful as the one in SWAT3.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, you will be able to do blood tests to check up on your personnel, although it will be a lot quicker and easier to do than it was in the film. The gameplay itself will provide equal doses of action (for which you arc equipped with machine guns, grenade launchers, flame throwers and so on) and puzzles. Though you won’t have the luxury of thinking much about them. "Rather than let the atmosphere drop while the player searches around for items or clues, the game keeps the pace up even during puzzle situations," says Chris. "Expect to be under a fair amount of pressure and you’d better hope your team are feeling co-operative or you could find yourself in a lol of trouble."

You also have to contend with changing weather, which can affect when you can go outside and also damage your health. All of which should ensure that this is one of the highlights of the year, providing CA can provide the gameplay to match their brilliant ideas. We’ll be the first to tell you how it turns out. And you know you can trust us. Or can you?

Universal Interactive is out to prove that even a 20-year-old horror film can still make a reasonably scary game. The Thing is the first console offering from London-based Computer Artworks, whose PC experience is helping this puzzle-laden action title look really nice on the Xbox.

For all you dinosaurs who were around to enjoy the 1982 flick, the game takes place in the same Antarctic setting as the movie, just shortly afterward and without the thespian stylings of Kurt Russell. Depending on how you interact with the game's characters, you'll have varied success in solving puzzles and completing the objectives that lead to your ultimate goal of annihilating the alien "thing" that torments the frigid research base. Universal is shooting to get this Thing out the door by fall 2002.

Ah, 8os horror flicks Friday the 13th taught us all to fear hockey masks, Jaws kept us beach-ridden well through the leg-warmer-and-Aqua-Net era, and The Thing made us damn scared of Antarctica in general. Thanks to sharp graphics, this new game of the same name extends the desolate ambience of the 1982 film to support an especially realistic action-adventure. The Things claim to fame is its trust/fear A.I. patterns that determine how your colorfully voiced allies react to you and to whats going on around them. Sometimes sharing your items and weapons or using your leadership skill to calm a nervous comrade can mean the difference between your friend staying sane or losing his mind altogether. And while an extra ally or two following you around can be a burden when fighting a swarm of mutants, they do help you out by providing health boosts, support fire and engineering skills (fixing broken door switches and the like).

Beyond its innovative A.I. routines, The Thing includes puzzle-solving objectives and blood-splattered action sequences, so it should pack a little something for everyone.

Created as a sequel to John Carpenter's 1982 movie of the same name, The Thing is a an exciting ride that blends horror and action as you work to save the members of an Antarctic research base and stop an evil plan.

The graphics and sound are very well done, providing a wonderful atmosphere of isolation and claustrophobia - there are many tight, dark spaces in which you can only hear the howling wind outside and the faint growls and scratches of creatures nearby. Bloodstains and severed limbs remind you to be vigilant as you make every turn. The supporting characters are all quite unique and their dialogue is nicely integrated into the action.

One interesting feature is the ability to monitor and manage the trust and fear levels of your squad members. With all the gore and surprises, it's only natural that these characters have a hard time coping with the situation. Some of them had really amusing personalities and used colorful language, but it wasn't hard for me to stop thinking of them as teammates and instead just as disposable tools. Watching them go crazy and commit suicide is almost perversely satisfying in some cases.

The most disappointing aspect of the game for me is the camera position. While you can toggle to first-person at any time to look around or aim, the third-person view is not flexible and makes fighting difficult at times. This game is very entertaining and a decent length, but in the end I had no feeling that I wanted to go back and relive any one scene or fight; the puzzles and boss battles were never that innovative or challenging. That lack of replay value unfortunately puts this game just below a Recommended Buy. Instead, rent it sometime and play it alone in a dark room for full effect.

Horror. Even in games from the worst developers, it's a buzzword that attracts my attention. Starting with games like Resident Evil, and ramping up from there, I was a quick convert to any games that provided me with a quick flush of adrenaline and fear. When I'd heard that The Thing, one of my favorite sci-fi horror films was being released as a video game, I waited with anticipation.

The Thing deserves credit for it's simplistic design. A well-designed interface lets you tweak a few settings, getting quickly to the game play. It only really suffers flaws in the online manual, and lack of a brightness setting. Also, each level is chopped up into enough loading zones to make the game load quickly, without many performance problems.

Graphics and audio are so-so, relying a lot on darkness and obscuring weather to heighten the frightening mood of the game. Of its visceral qualities, I'd say The Thing only had two standout points. First, characters and their reactions seem well modeled, and second, the layout of the original Outpost #31 (from the film) is preserved for you to explore.

On the other hand, the game has many drawbacks. There's no multiplayer mode. Poor plot' poor plot. An overuse of monsters, too much weaponry, unrealism, and boss monsters greatly weaken the game. The Trust/Fear mechanic is completely irrelevant, as the game seems to react randomly, turning your squad mates into The Thing on a moment's notice. On top of that, once you get over the shocks, it isn't very frightening. It's a console shooter that oversimplifies game play and is difficult enough to present a challenge, but for only a few short hours. In closing, if you're really a big fan of the old movie, you might enjoy The Thing, but it suffers from the same mediocrity that makes most action games suck.

The Thing is one of very few games you will find that picks up where a movie left off. The game takes place shortly after the events of John Carpenter's 1982 film 'The Thing.'? It's intense after the first level and frustrating from time to time. Personally I like being frustrated because it means the game isn't a cakewalk to beat, which this definitely wasn't.

After playing for just a few hours, I felt I had an excellent grasp on the controls and basic strategies of the game. Controls are well designed and allow for rapid switching of weapons and items during combat. The character is easy to handle and the game does an excellent job of offering help as you gain experience through the levels.

Graphics are nothing to get excited about, but they are still quite good. Some of the cinematic sequences get a little choppy but I had no lag or chop during game play. However, the game did freeze up on me once when I had lit a few creatures on fire, including myself. Sound was quite good and very realistic. The gunfire was authentic and the footsteps were noticeably good. Even the creature noises as they scream while being sprayed on the wall were convincing.

What I think makes this game unique is that you have the ability to gain the trust of those you encounter. There are several times throughout the game when you encounter people that are terrified and very untrusting because they assume you have been infected with The Thing. You can earn these peoples trust by healing their injuries or giving them a weapon and some guidance. This is what really makes the game stand out.

So why is it Fans Only? It's quite simple really'the game had the potential to really stand out on a new level and fell just short. While it has a lot of potential, it is basically another glorified creature killing game, but with good sound and controls. The trust aspect is great but everything else is pretty standard.

Snapshots and Media

Playstation 2 Screenshots