Review By: Christopher
Label Games (Universal)
heard anything, or read anything about this game then you
probably know about the fear/trust gameplay elements. If you
havenít, hereís the jist: the game claims to emulate real
life emotional responses from the non-player characters; Rather
than the usual AI seen in most other games that strictly attempt
to emulate actions. Letís face it, in real life, even if weíre
talking about hardened soldiers, when someone ends up being
hunted by weird man-eating aliens they are going to freak out.
They are going to freak out over strange sounds, or by being in
a grotesque environment. Some of you teammates may even lose it
at the sight of too much blood and start puking all over the
place. Well, that happens in the game.
explains the Ďfearí aspect of the game, what about the ítrustí?
To best explain that you should know a little about the
background behind The Thing. The game is, of course, based on a
movie by the same name by John Carpenter. Without going into too
much detail, an alien craft landed on Earth near the Arctic
Circle. The aliens within have the ability to completely mimic
any person they come in contact with. What that means is that
the person you think is your old friend may in fact be a vicious
alien. How can you know for sure until itís too late? Who can
you trust? Within the game, thatís exactly what your teammates
are thinking. And if they donít trust you, then they wonít
follow your orders. In order to survive, you need them to follow
your orders; therefore you need them to trust you.
on you team are divided into three categories: medic, engineer,
or soldier. Certain areas of the game require specific teammate
to perform certain functions (such as the engineer rewiring a
console, or the soldier guarding your ass from hordes of
approaching enemies.) If they donít trust you, or are too
scared to continue you may not be able to proceed. The solution
is to either prove to them that you are who you are, give them a
bigger gun, or do something heroic to earn their respect. If you
fail to assure them, they may snap and turn on you or other team
members. If they are left alone in a scary place, they might
blow their own brains out. An unarmed man left to swell in his
own fear and anxiety will even have a heart attack if the stress
becomes too great. Have you ever seen a game try to emulate
something like that before? They claim this game is innovative,
and I would tend to agree.
aspect that separates this game from the rest is the fear/trust
elements, the concept does wear thin after a while. Once that
novelty has worn away, whatís left? A pretty solid survival
horror game. Not one of my personal favorite genres, but the
story and environments were enough to keep a jaded gamer like me
interested most of the time. I say most of the time because as
with most games in this genre, I find they tend to drag on as I
run back and front throughout the levels looking for certain
items, or a hidden entrance. The levels tend to be rather
repetitive, and yet the game goes on seemingly forever. Now, donít
get me wrong, this is no Veronica X (Iím still recovering from
the boredom I experienced trudging all the way through that
game.) But The Thing does tend to grow a little long in the
teeth towards the end.
This game is
a survival horror game. So letís get the formality out of the
way by comparing it to the granddaddy of horror games: the
Resident Evil series. Basically, this is what RE should be. It
has everything RE has, or tries to have, with the addition of
good controls, and 3D environments.
cut-scenes are okay, not great. Is it me or are all PS2 titles
starting to look the same? Sort of generic, dark, often grainy
scenes of someone sneaking into a room, or a plane dropping off
a strike team. Like any scene from say MGS2, RE:V, SoCom etc.
could be exchanged for any of the others. Little 10 second clips
that all seem to have the same director. I know Iím jaded, and
that might be a ridiculous statement, maybe Iím just not
playing enough cell-shaded games.
to go off here on a little group of people I refer to as the Ďidiot
programmers.í Now, I have nothing but respect for these guys
most of the time. But occasionally (and most of this blame can
be equally shared with the developer executives) they release
titles with such glaring flaws that it is inconceivable that
they thought these were acceptable inclusions into their game.
The first glaring flaw with The Thing? When you initially load
up the game, before youíve even started, the game looks for
space on a memory card, and then promptly writes a new 2.1mb
file! And as if thatís not bad enough, the Ďidiot
programmersí didnít bother putting in a function to search
out slot 2. What are you thinking? If you donít have 2.1mb of
free space on the card in slot 1, then you donít get to save a
game (I know, of course you can just switch cards, but come on.)
There is an
In-game manual, which is a nice addition. Saves me the effort of
actually reading something. Seriously though, the help menus
during the beginning levels, or whenever a new concept is thrown
in, are really well done, and makes what could have been some
difficult gameplay issues, or controls a breeze.
challenge is done well. I usually prefer more intellectual
puzzles in my games, but there are not many Ďbrain teasersí
in this one. Thereís a good amount of action to balance the
overall feel of the game. As the game progresses, the difficulty
of the action levels increases just right. To the point where
the final couple of levels are difficult, but satisfyingly so.
Boss battles are a bit of a let down. They are certainly more
brutal than most of the other Things in the game, but in general
not very exciting, and the final boss is a joke. Similar to many
games these days, as you move on and save your progress your Ďgameplay
timeí is tracked. Although the time spent repeating levels
after dying, or reloading older saved games is obviously not
included, the entire game time from start to finish is about 6
or 7 hours. This may not seem like a lot, but it actually is
just about exactly how long I wanted to play this game before it
probably would have gotten really boring.
or not but the enemy AI is pretty good. By the end of the game
every player will more than likely developed a knack for
figuring out ways to outsmart the enemies, but the reactions and
responses are realistic. Iíve talked a bit about the graphics
already, so I should mention the sound and music. Both are kind
of lacking, especially in the music department. I assume that
the developers excluded it on purpose, and I suppose it works.
Instead of, as with most games of this genre, using music to
build suspense and fill audio voids, The Things has no music.
The only in game sound are effects, and ambience. It does give
the game an added sense of realism.
There is a
song associated with the closing credits. Some band named
Saliva. Now, other than video games, do these guys actually have
a name? Maybe Iím out of the loop. But I must say, they arenít
bad. I particularly liked their Spy Hunter album. Oh, wait, that
was a game too.
horror done right; 3D environments, good controls
concept a great addition
story and good character development
- Relies a
little too heavily on novelty
- Not a great
deal of variation in play and zero replay value
and aiming can be off at times
In the end,
this game is a good use of an interesting movie license. Rather
than going for the obvious hot item blockbuster, Computer Artworks
developed a game based on a more obscure storyline. Itís a great
idea really. Use a proven design for the plot, but create a new,
innovative game engine to showcase it. In my opinion this game far
outshines any of the Resident Evil games. The graphics are in full
3D, and the controls are superb. The fear/trust concept is
interesting, but a little underused really. If you like survival
horror, you could do a lot worse. Iíd consider renting it
though. If you stick with it, it might take only a couple nights
to clear. There are no bonuses to unlock, or extras added. Which
in my mind means absolutely zero replay value.