Review by KasketDarkfyre

""I'm hiding this recorder just in case....""

When you think of survival horror games on the Play Station system, you think of any of the various Resident Evil games and even the Dino Crisis series. However, there is a new brand of survival horror that is apparently sweeping through the video game world in the way of old horror movies being brought back to life. The Thing is a game that expands on a classic cult horror flick with plenty of action and drama thrown in around an interesting plot and several characters. Though to say that this game is easy to play and that anyone can simply breeze through it, is a misconception and in order to truly enjoy the game, you’ll have to use your wits and your gut instinct to survive the new horror.

The story line that you find here in The Thing takes place twenty years after the end of the actual movie. For anyone who is a John Carpenter fan, you’ll remember that something was found in the frozen wastes by group of men who are literally stranded with little or no contact to the outside world. Throughout the movie, an alien creature begins to take over the men of the camp, leaving only one survivor, but pitting the surviving members of the camp against each other with disastrous results. Most of what the movie represented, is recreated here in this game through the plot and theme as well as most of the situations encountered!

The Game Play

For the most part, this is your run of the mill survival horror game in which you have to adjust your playing to the items that you have available to you. Throughout the game, you’ll be asked to undertake different missions that are more or less a matter of finding an object and taking it to another place. Key cards and various objects will be strewn throughout the arctic wasteland for you to find and collect. However, you’ll be working against the environment and the longer you stay outside and out from shelter, the easier it will be for you to die from exposure, so be wary of your outside travels.

Another feature that the game has to offer is the different members of your team. As you move throughout the game, you’ll take on different people that represent different classes of soldiers. One is a medic, which will always be around to heal you whenever you need to have your health rechecked and recharged. The next is a soldier, who will cover your back and keep you safe from harm as long as you direct him to be in the spot that you want him, either to cover you or to run with you from place to place. The final member of the team is the engineer that can work the different levers and systems throughout the base if you’re in need of a repair.

The most interesting part of this is the fact that you’re working on a trust system. Much like the movie, you will not know just who is your friend and who is your enemy. You must learn how to use your team effectively in order to keep them together and keep everyone on good terms. This is where the trust system comes into play and you’ll need to learn just how and when to do certain things. Each action that you take will increase or decrease trust respectively. If you give your teammates weapons and ammunition, then you’ll increase their trust and keep yourself on their good side. However, if you happen to fire on one of them in battle, or outright kill them, then the trust decreases until they see YOU as the enemy!

Fear also plays a huge part in the way that the game plays through. If you happen to have someone on your team who is extremely skittish and you happen to run into an area that is stressful, then the fear factor comes into play. As the fear progresses and the situation starts to deteriorate for one or all of your team, they will begin to start acting strangely and the trust will all but disappear. When that happens, all hell will break loose and you may end up in a fire fight with your own people, or have team members simply offing themselves with a gunshot. These types of game play factors really make the game something of a treat to play, as the outcome of the game is always different!

Control is something that you will have to get used to from the start of the game. While you move your character, your team follows you on the order system, which requires some button pressing and menu navigating. Most of the control that you have to work with when trying to figure out how to order your team is done when you aren’t in the middle of a battle with one of the various forms of The Thing. Once you’ve learned how to control the menus, you’ll be able to give orders and trade, drop or give items accordingly in an efficient manner. However, beginners might find all of the exceptionally in-depth orders of your team is a little hard to work with at first.

The Visuals

As with most survival horror games, you’ll find that a large portion of this game is set with a dark overtone and plenty of shadows to jump out at you. Progression through the game will send you into the frozen wastes and blizzards, and into the dark underground base that you have to explore. Snow effects and flare lighting with the grim red haze is all a part of the fun, capturing the effect and the fear of trying to solve a mystery without getting overboard with the effects. Some of the best visuals that the game has to offer though, is that of the changing of different characters if they are infected by The Thing. There is nothing like watching a creature rip through a body and start going ballistic while you’re dousing them with heavy duty fire!

The Audio

The audio is done in such a way that you really don’t hear much of the music, but rather it is an undertone to the game that appears in all of the right places. Much like a good horror movie, there are themes and otherwise that jump out when something of great importance is about to happen or is happening right before your very eyes. Much of the dialogue that you find here in the game is set with an adult audience in mind. From time to time, as the game progresses and the situation starts to break down between your teammates, you’ll hear plenty of swearing and backward jokes that put you in the mood of hearing just what happens when the lights go out and the faith of your men starts to drop.

The Verdict

The Thing is a game that really does something with the survival horror genre by giving you a different twist on how the game is played. While there is plenty of fighting in certain parts of the game, the simple fact that you have to make sure that your people trust you in order to complete it makes the game either very easy or very hard. Though some of the puzzles that you find here in The Thing can be time consuming, it is pretty fun when you start getting into the heavy battles. Worthy of a weekend rental to start, The Thing is well worth the money to spend if you’re looking for a game that constantly changes based on your decisions at each and every step!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 09/09/02, Updated 09/09/02

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