The Thing
Game Info
Platform(s)
Xbox, PS2
Publisher
Universal Interactive
Developer
Black Label Games
Genre
Action
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood and Gore, Violence, Strong Language
 
Grade
The Good

• Great lighting and textures
• Excellent voice acting
• Fear, Team and Trust factors add to gameplay

The Bad

• Skipping in cutscenes
• Some blocky models
• Prescripted events remove any randomness

 
Grade
B+

Set some time after the events of the horror movie by the same name, you play the part of Blake, who is part of a team sent to investigate what had happened in Antarctica. After checking out the remains of the American base with his own team, he goes on to the Norwegian base to find the other team in disrepair - separated, wounded and distrustful of each other. Blake comes to discover things aren't what they seem.

The basis of the gameplay is similar to Siphon Filter in that you'll be involved in a number of gun battles, which are a major focus of the game. There are no real puzzles to speak of, outside of just repairing power boxes or finding keys to open the next door. Where The Thing really makes a name for itself is in the inclusion of the team aspect of the game. You can have up to four other team members, which consist of medics (who can heal you and allies outside of combat), engineers (important for opening doors and restoring power) and soldiers (always useful in combat). You manage the team by giving them weapons, ordering them to stay or come with you or to tell them to go to locations (primarily the engineers). But, things aren't as simple as that - you have to gain and maintain their trust. Under each team member's portrait is a bar that measures trust. It can be raised by giving them weapons or by fulfilling the occasional request. You can lose trust by not participating in combat or accidentally shooting your allies.

Not only do you have to maintain your team's health and ammo, but you also have to watch their level of fear, which can be affected by seeing dead bodies or being involved in combat. Moving them away from violent locations or giving them adrenaline shots is always helpful.

While built on a frame that, at times, can look a little blocky, The Thing does sport more than enough detail. Every location is loaded with enough furniture and equipment to make it feel natural and lived in. The texture maps are varied and well detailed and the lighting, whether static or dynamic (from the flashlight and flare) really adds to the experience. In fact, the flashlight's lighting is helpful in some of the dark areas of the game. The character models can look a little blocky, but the detail of the texture maps more than makes up the difference. Additional visual effects like smoke and the particle effects of the snow help complete the package.

Audiowise, this game is top notch. The music, when present, is wonderful and reminiscent of the original film. Voice acting is also quite good, especially considering the large amount of it. What's really nice is the vocal bits your team members add to the game as your playing along. Often, they'll give you clues to how they feel or what they see, but sometimes, they taunt the enemies or complain about the situation. Fair warning: there is a good amount of foul language in the game.

Where The Thing stumbles is that some of its main aspects aren't really all that essential. To gain trust, all you have to do is give someone a gun or ammo and try not to shoot them. And, the use of blood tests to see who is a Thing never really sniffs out the enemy. In fact, you can give a blood test and in the next room at the scripted point, the same person who passed the test will turn into a Thing. Also, during the cutscenes, the characters tend to mouth lines like puppets. And speaking of cutscenes, the ones in The Thing tend to have an annoying skipping to them. It doesn't happen all the time, but it happens enough to be a pain. Also present is a minor slowdown when you turn around in some locations.

The Thing is a good action game with more than enough challenge and additional elements to stand out on it's own without feeling like a clone of any other game. Fans of the original movie may be turned off by the lack of surprise and tension the preset events take from the game, but for everyone else, the game provides an enjoyable game.

- - Vane

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