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The Thing (Windows)

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Written by  :  Sycada (191)
Written on  :  Oct 08, 2002
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars

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Great concept with only marginal realization.

The Good

"Uh-oh! A horror film license. I smell another Evil Dead on the way." Many of you must be thinking this very thing, as was I when I first heard of the game but thankfully you can breathe a little easier. This ain't no disaster, in fact despite its flaws The Thing is one of the best film to game licenses to come along in quite a while.

Taking the mantle of official sequel to the original film, The Thing place shortly after the originals conclusion. You've been sent to the antarctic base that the film took place on to find out what happened. Naturally you and your men soon find that all is not well and are soon fighting for your lives. The introduction sets a very creepy mood as you explore the empty remains of a base with your squad. Rooms are torn apart as well as people, everything looks like serious havoc was going on at some time prior to your arrival. The tension doesn't end there though because you can't stay outside for long or you'll die of exposure to the cold and inside you have to hold your team together as you encounter various gruesome scenes. You see, your squad will actually freak out in response to the things they see. In extreme cases some members will lose it totally and start shooting at anyone and anything making them a serious danger. You can use various methods to calm them such as leaving the stress bringing area or in extreme cases, giving them a shot of adrenaline which will stop them accidentally blowing your head off in a blind panic. Also added to the fresh ideas mix is a rather innovative trust system. Due to the nature of the enemy in The Thing, any human could become a monster at any time and so characters won't necessarily follow you blindly on account of the fact that you may be infected. Of course this works the other way too as at any moment a member of your squad could mutate and attack you, which they often seem to do. There are 3 types of allies you can find on your travels, soldiers, engineers and medics which all perform various different functions for you but it's the engineers that you'll really need as they can fix things that are beyond your expertise.

Graphically The Thing is very solid and crisp and despite the rather mundane setting the locales are rather interesting to explore. Voices are fairly well done and sound is of a high quality with minimal use of music at key events.

The Bad

It may have a lot of good ideas but The Thing often leaves most of them half realized. The great trust system idea is basically reduced to a case of 'character (a) won't follow you because you can't be trusted so you give said character a gun of some type and he's ready to follow you to the ends of the earth'. This is repeated for anyone you come across.

Another great idea thrown down the tubes is the blood test. In theory you can administer a blood test to see if anyone is infected. What actually happens quite frequently is you test someone and they come out negative then 2 seconds later they turn into a monster because they were scripted to do so. What on earth was the point of that? The blood tests may as well be thrown out for all the good they do you. It's practically a given that anyone you meet will eventually turn to the bad guys so who cares anyway?

The story is also very broken. Often you find yourself exiting one area only to be somewhere miles away with no cutscene explaining what happened. I trapsed through many levels blasting monsters unsure of my objective other than I had to get to the next stage, only remembering when a brief, often pointless cutscene would remind me that there was some kind of half-assed plot going on here.

The inevitable boss monster encounters are also awful and horribly unbalanced. The bosses were all fairly tough except for the final boss who was such a push over that you could almost do it with your eyes shut. Add to all of this the fact that most levels serve no real purpose other than providing filler and suddenly things aren't quite as rosy as they could have been.

The Bottom Line

A decent survival horror blaster with a lot of good ideas but failure to capitalize on them ultimately robs The Thing of a place in the hall of horror gaming fame.