Score: 8.1 / 10
Thing is a breath of fresh air with just a tinge of something stagnant.
It adds multiple innovations to the survival horror formula and
improves on that genre immensely.
Unfortunately, The Thing also holds on to some of the most
annoying conventions of the genre.
Even with those problems, The Thing is the best straightforward
horror game on the PC so far this year.
elements of The Thing work especially well.
The graphics are sharp.
The frame rate is smooth.
The character models and the creature designs are top of the line
(especially facial expressions).
The story picks up where a very well-done horror film leaves off,
so no complaints there.
Still, it is the game play innovations (in relationship to the
genre) that really stand out.
I imagine most of our readers are familiar with the prototypical survival horror game, so Iíll ignore that description. The Thing adds quite a bit to the basic model. The most obvious tweak to the formula is that The Thing features some squad-based strategy. Throughout the game, the player has the ability to give instructions to his team. Each team member has specific strengths. Handiest of the
three types is the medic, who has a never-ending
supply of health power ups to fix what ails you.
The mechanic also comes in pretty handy when the main character
encounters a broken item that he canít fix himself.
When not following the orders given them, the team behaves in a believably life-like manner. The Thing is the first console-style game Iíve played that
allowed any kind of squad-based control that I didnít feel like my
teammates were idiots.
Other than occasionally shooting my character in the back (surely
my fault in most cases), the A.I. is really solid.
I actually had the scary feeling about half way through the game
that if I left the game running when I went off to work, the team might
go ahead and finish it for me.
Maybe that was the gameís paranoia rubbing off on me.
thanks to another innovation, paranoia is rampant.
The level of trust exhibited by your team changes during the
course of the game.
You can increase their trust of your character by giving them
weapons and ammo.
This aspect of the game mimics the movie quite well and is not
nearly as annoying as I felt it could be (unless you accidentally shoot
a teammate, which causes all kinds of turmoil).
all of the good that is present in The Thing, the gameís stubborn
adherence to the survival-horror genreís most long-in-the-tooth
conventions almost ruin the game.
Iím talking about, of course, ammo conservation and puzzle
The ammo collecting is as annoying here as it was in the original
There just doesnít seem to be enough ammo to go around.
This is especially true since you are forced to keep giving guns
and ammo to your teammates to keep their trust bar filled.
Things are worse in the middle of the game.
Later on, the ammo economy sees an upswing, but almost too late
for my tastes.
puzzles are equally annoying.
Here, they involve little more than finding a key and then
finding the lock it fits.
They never rise above the moderately difficult level (and rarely
approach even that), but the process of solving the mundane puzzles
nearly kills the tension that the game needs desperately to maintain its
In the end, the puzzle and bullet conservation elements werenít enough to cause me not to seriously enjoy the game. They are enough however to keep the game out of the top five or so best survival horror games of all time.
- Tolen Dante
(October 16, 2002)
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