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.
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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.
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.
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.