The Thing (video game)

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The Thing
The Thing.jpg
Developer(s) Computer Artworks
Publisher(s) Universal Interactive
Konami
  • JP Konami
Designer(s) Andrew Curtis
Platform(s) PlayStation 2
Windows
Xbox
Release date(s)
  • NA August 21, 2002
  • EU September 20, 2002
Genre(s) Third-person, Survival horror
Mode(s) Single-player
Distribution CD, DVD

The Thing is a third-person survival horror video game developed by Computer Artworks and published under the Black Label Games banner, a collaboration between Universal Interactive (later Vivendi Games) and Konami.[1][2] It was released in North America for the PlayStation 2 on August 19, 2002,[3] on the PC on August 20, 2002[4] and on the Xbox on September 9, 2002.[5] It is a sequel to John Carpenter's 1982 film The Thing.

Gameplay[edit]

One of the main features of the game is the inclusion of non-player characters who join the main player character, Blake. These characters are divided into three classes (medic, engineer and soldier) and can be ordered to perform certain actions according to that class, such as healing other team mates or fixing equipment. The game uses a "fear system" and a "trust system" when dealing with the NPCs who join Blake. In the trust system, Blake must gain the trust of his teammates or they will refuse to carry out his commands. Killing Things, handing out ammo, healing teammates, or using the test-kits to show teammates that Blake is not infected increases their trust. Accidentally shooting teammates, taking away their weapons or ammo or pointing a weapon at them decreases their trust. In the fear system, the NPCs react to the environment around them. If an area is covered in blood, has no illumination or features a lot of wreckage, the NPC may become fearful. If the level of fear increases they will start shaking and ignoring orders from Blake. If their fear is still not dealt with, they may attack Blake, commit suicide or die from fright. Blake can combat fear by giving his teammates adrenaline shots or moving them away from the area.

As the game is set in several locations in Antarctica, when Blake is outdoors, as well as a regular health meter, he also has a temperature meter. If this meter reaches zero, the player will then gradually begin to lose health.

Weaponry for Blake includes pistols, grenades, sniper rifles, flamethrowers, shotguns, submachine guns, assault rifles, grenade launchers and fixed heavy machine guns. Other items that can be found during the game are health packs, explosives and ammunition, portable test-kits and adrenaline injections.

Plot[edit]

The game begins at U.S. Outpost 31 in Antarctica, several days after the events of the original film. A team of U.S. special forces have arrived to investigate both the U.S. camp and the nearby Norwegian camp. The player controls the character of Captain J.F. Blake (Per Solli), a member of Beta Team, who are investigating the U.S. camp, whilst Alpha Team investigate the Norwegian camp. Beta Team soon discover the small spacecraft made by the Blair-Thing in the film and the tape recorder with a message from R.J. MacReady, describing how nobody trusts anybody anymore and that everyone is very tired. They then find information detailing how the base has been infiltrated by an extraterrestrial lifeform that is capable of imitating the physical appearance and characteristics of any living organism. Whilst searching, they also find the body of Childs, one of the only two survivors at the end of the film, who has apparently died from being exposed to the Antarctic cold. The other survivor, MacReady, is nowhere to be found.

Upon securing the U.S. facility, Blake is airlifted to the Norwegian camp to locate and reinforce Alpha Team, with whom all contact has been lost. Blake discovers that Alpha team have been attacked and scattered by an unknown enemy, which is soon revealed to be groups of "scuttlers", small limbs and appendages of much larger Things. Eventually Blake and the surviving members of Alpha team find Pierce, Alpha Team's leader. However, Pierce doesn't trust anyone, pointing out that any one of them could be infected, so Blake agrees to conduct a blood test on himself and the other survivors. Pierce and Blake turn out to be human, but the other members of Alpha Team are infected, and Blake and Pierce are forced to kill them. They then head out looking for a way to communicate with their superiors, but they are separated along the way. With no other choice, Blake continues on, soon meeting another member of Alpha Team. He and Blake set out to find a radio, and soon meet Alpha Team's doctor. The three men find the radio room, but discover that someone has stolen the radio, and so move on to the nearby medical center. Here, they encounter a survivor from the original Norwegian research team. However, the man flees and locks himself inside a weather observatory.

Both of Blake's allies soon turn out to be Things. After killing them, he enters the observatory and once more encounter Pierce. However, Pierce has become infected, and rather than allow himself to turn into a Thing, he shoots himself in the head. Blake continues to pursue the Norwegian with the radio, eventually discovering that he too has been infected. Blake kills him, and takes the radio. Moving on, he enters the Pyron sub-facility and learns of a company called Gen-Inc., who constructed the facility and placed a research team there lead by Dr. Sean Faraday (John Carpenter in an uncredited role). Gen-Inc. had been conducting experiments on the Things when their team was infected, and now only a few survivors remain within the research facility. Blake rescues Dr. Faraday, however, upon doing so he encounters his direct superior, and the man behind Blake's original mission to Outpost 31, Colonel Whitley (William B. Davis). Whitley shoots Blake with a tranquilliser gun and soon after kills Faraday, as he no longer has any need for him. Before he kills Faraday, Whitley reveals that he has infected himself with the Thing gene, claiming it to be controlable and that he is the living proof for its capability as a weapon.

Blake awakes in the now abandoned Strata research facility. After escaping his confinement, he unearths a government conspiracy whereby Gen-Inc. isolated a microbiological form of the Thing called the "Cloud virus", which was intended for use in biological warfare. However, the Thing eventually infected everyone at the facility. Blake learns that Whitely was in charge of the entire operation and has injected himself with a strain of the virus known as "Cloud Virus B4". With a new group of survivors, Blake fights his way through the research facility, battling numerous black ops under Whitley's command, as well as many Thing creatures. Whitley plans to distribute the Thing virus around the world using a fleet of airplanes, however, Blake is able to destroy them before they take off. Eventually, Blake chases Whitley through the snow. At the site of the Thing's spaceship, Whitley transforms into a massive Thing creature. Blake then encounters a helicopter pilot, who helps Blake to defeat the Whitley-Thing. The game ends with the pilot revealing himself to be none other than R.J. MacReady.

This game is considered (and endorsed by Carpenter) to be the canonical sequel to the 1982 film.

Music[edit]

The song "After Me", performed by American rock band Saliva, is heard over the end credits of the game. The song is taken from their second studio album, Every Six Seconds.

Reception[edit]

Reception
Review scores
Publication Score
PC PS2 Xbox
GameSpot 7.7/10[9] 8.4/10[10] 8.4/10[11]
GameSpy 3/5[15] 4/5[16] 4/5[17]
IGN 8.5/10[12] 8.3/10[13] 8.3/10[14]
Aggregate scores
GameRankings 77.33%[6] 80.15%[7] 77.21%[8]
Metacritic 77/100[4] 78/100[3] 78/100[5]

The Thing received generally favorable reviews. Edge awarded it 7 out of 10,[18] highlighting the well-managed tension and atmosphere, and the impressive weapon effects (such as the flamethrower.) However, the reviewer was ultimately disappointed by the game's linearity. On the other hand, PlayStation Official Magazine argued that the game was of an extremely high quality, awarding it a 9 out of 10, and describing it as "top-class survival horror meets one of the best sci-fi movies of all time. Excellent."

GameSpot argued that the game had the potential to be a lot better. Of the PC version, they concluded that "The Thing is kind of short, it's not especially effective at making you feel afraid, its most intriguing gameplay elements are somewhat extraneous, and it suffers from a wonky control scheme. Yet, thanks to some high production values and consistently interesting action scenes, The Thing rises above these flaws. It could have been great, but in light of the checkered history of movie-licensed games, being good at all is a pretty impressive achievement."[9] They were less critical of the PS2 and Xbox versions, arguing that "when you look at everything the game offers in terms of its gameplay, presentation, and story, it's hard not to appreciate The Thing whether you're a fan of the film it's based on or just a fan of the survival horror genre in general. The Thing is a very solid game that could have been done better in some ways, but not by much."[10][11]

IGN liked all three versions of the game. Of the PC version, they said "The Thing is for the most part an immersive and enjoyable game. The visuals and sound are top notch and the sense of desperation you feel when you are stuck outside and about to succumb to the elements or being hunted by packs of the foul creatures is very real. The squad based elements and the way you keep your men from losing their minds also adds to the depth of the play experience."[12] Of the PS2 and Xbox versions, they wrote "The Thing takes some time to get into, and it may be a little frustrating for some gamers. But I'm quite sure that once it's given a chance, The Thing won't disappoint. The deeper you play, the more satisfying and challenging it becomes, and the more it draws you in. The Thing is well-paced, designed with an excellent variety of levels."[13][14]

GameSpy were less impressed. Of the PC version, they argued that "As an action game, The Thing isn't very satisfying. The actual combat is pretty hands-off, with an auto-aiming system that works well with the third-person view. The mouse only controls movement on a horizontal plane. This limitation feels weird on a PC but helps keep the player model from blocking your view. Also, you can hold down a key to jump into a first-person view, nicely simulating coming to a stop to peer down the sight of your gun for more accurate fire. To switch weapons, you have to bring up an inventory screen that pauses the game, which really breaks up the flow of the action."[15] They were more impressed with the PS2 and Xbox versions, arguing that "what makes The Thing so scary to play is the atmosphere, and helping to create this atmosphere is the sound. The first time you walk down a long hallway and hear a growl from a monster, it'll make you sweat. Remember the face huggers in Alien? How they were quiet and then would all of a sudden attack? Same thing here folks! The screeching of the monsters when they're getting shot and killed is piercing to the ears. Coupled with believable voice acting and excellent moody music, The Thing will be music to your ears."[16][17]

Cancelled sequel[edit]

A sequel was in development for a year after the game was released, but it was cancelled when Computer Artworks closed down in 2004.[19] Several pieces of official production art for the unproduced game, as well as two cinematic videos do exist and can still be found online. According to some screenshots a beta of The Thing 2 videogame also exists, but has yet to be released to the public. The images of the unproduced sequel show a similar gameplay interface with improved graphics and new levels in infested locations set in refinery installations, oil processing bases, access tunnels and an aircraft carrier. New monster designs for the unproduced game sequel inspired those of the creatures in the 2011 film prequel.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Konami's Triple Punch: Crash, The Thing, and Jurassic Park III". IGN. Retrieved 2012-06-19. 
  2. ^ "Black Label Games". GiantBomb. Retrieved June 19, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "The Thing for PlayStation 2 Reviews - Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved 2012-07-14. 
  4. ^ a b "The Thing for PC Reviews - Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved 2012-07-14. 
  5. ^ a b "The Thing for Xbox Reviews - Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved 2012-07-14. 
  6. ^ "The Thing for PC - GameRankings". GameRankings. Retrieved 2012-07-14. 
  7. ^ "The Thing for PlayStation 2 - GameRankings". GameRankings. Retrieved 2012-07-14. 
  8. ^ "The Thing for Xbox - GameRankings". GameRankings. Retrieved 2012-07-14. 
  9. ^ a b "The Thing Review for PC". GameSpot. Retrieved 2012-07-14. 
  10. ^ a b "The Thing Review for PS2". GameSpot. Retrieved 2012-07-14. 
  11. ^ a b "The Thing Review for Xbox". GameSpot. Retrieved 2012-07-14. 
  12. ^ a b "The Thing Review for Xbox". IGN. Retrieved 2012-07-14. 
  13. ^ a b "The Thing Review for PS2". IGN. Retrieved 2012-07-14. 
  14. ^ a b "The Thing Review for Xbox". IGN. Retrieved 2012-07-14. 
  15. ^ a b "The Thing - PC - GameSpy". GameSpy. Retrieved 2012-07-14. 
  16. ^ a b "The Thing - PlayStation 2 - GameSpy". GameSpy. Retrieved 2012-07-14. 
  17. ^ a b "The Thing - Xbox - GameSpy". GameSpy. Retrieved 2012-07-14. 
  18. ^ Edge Online: Search Results[dead link]
  19. ^ "The Thing 2 [XBOX/PS2 - Cancelled] | Unseen 64: Beta, Unreleased & Unseen Videogames!". Retrieved 2011-10-10. 

External links[edit]