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The Thing

The Thing by Vivendi Universal The Thing
by Vivendi Universal

Platform: Xbox
ESRB Rating: Mature
ASIN: B00006C296

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• Squad-based horror and suspense
• Based on the movie of the same name
• Trust Meter measures the faith your crew has in you
• Try to figure out which one of your party is infected with Thing-ness
• For one player Product Description: Based on the same elements that made the movie so enjoyable--fear, suspense, and the possibility that your teammate might be infected--The Thing lets players creep into action with the help of several nonplayer characters (NPCs), whom you use to protect and aid your group. Using a core team of engineers, medics, and soldiers, players must manage the level of trust in, and fear of, you that these characters experience. They react to your actions and might betray you if they think you are the Thing. Conversely, you must constantly monitor which one of them might be infected. Other characters must trust you, but if they fear you, actions as drastic as coercion are necessary. For example, if a soldier doesn't have confidence in you, you may have to put your gun to his head to convince him you're not the Thing... and for his sake, he'd better believe.

From the Developer: Where the movie ends, the true terror begins. In the frozen wastelands of Antarctica, a mysterious, shape-shifting alien life form has wiped out an American scientific outpost. You're the leader of a military rescue team sent to investigate the carnage. Trapped by the elements and infected by a horrific enemy, you must keep your squad together. Control their fear and gain their trust, and you might just survive the Thing.

Taking place shortly after the events seen in the 1982 film, The Thing takes us back to the Antarctic base and familiar locales from the film for a terrifying, new chapter of isolation and paranoia. The game's trust/fear interface adds a different dimension to the genre. How you influence non-player characters (NPCs) psychological state determines whether or not these characters will cooperate with you. Puzzle-solving can be accomplished by a multitude of scenarios; there is never just one way to accomplish an objective. The varying pace of gameplay blends action, puzzles, horror, and human interaction.

Customer Reviews:
THE THING, October 28, 2002
Reviewer: randy weinberg from new york, ny United States

This gets 4.5 stars, October 27, 2002
Reviewer: A gamer from Cambridge, VT United States
I thought that this game was going to be real crappy when I saw the commercial. It looked interesting enough, but so did Azurik, Nightcaster, and many other games. I rented it, and now I love this game. It's so fun and involving! You are a squad leader on Antarctica, leading other marines into and out of the grip of death. The graphics for the most part are great, the mouth movements arn't exact, but there is no great loss with this. The sound is great, the marines talk about the situation, the enemies, and the cold. They also express in great detail their fear level, and their trust in you, which you have to prove. They even have physical feeling, for they get cold, call for help if wounded, yelp, and even throw up if they see something disgusting, such as a mangled corpse. There is a good variety of weapons, and an even better variety of items, such as flashlights, flares, fire extinguishers, grenades, and many other instuments that come in handy. And of course, the action is intense, thrilling, and scary. This game is a great shooter, thinker, and is beautiful to the senses. I highly recommend it.

One of the best yet..., October 27, 2002
Reviewer: killerjunior from APO, AE United States
OK, where to start. I bought "The Thing" not expecting much other that you normal shoot-em-up no-brainer, but have been pleasantly suprised. The game IS action-packed, but with enough strategy and mission objectives to keep it interesting. The gameplay isn't extremely difficult, but requires enough thought to keep the player in the game. As far as the controlling your "squad's emotions" feature, I found this aspect to be slightly disappointing. Yes, you can control their morale and trust, but I found that you rarely held on to a squad member long enough to build up a "cozy" relationship with them. Most likely they changed into monsters, died, or were factored out by the scheme of things (fighting bosses, end of level, etc.) But it definetly made this game unique, and using other characters to help you get through situations was interesting. The graphics were very good. Not quite as good as Quake, but close. The monsters were intimidating, if repetitive, sharing the likeability of the Resident Evil series. Handling was EXCELLENT, i.e when maneuvering, changing weapons and using items. The arsenal was extensive, but I was disappointed with the lack of control the player has when throwing grenades. Sniper mode was most satisfying. This game most closely resembles Metal Gear without all those annoying movie clips. I definetly recommend this game for some exciting hours spent in front of the screen.

Cool Game!, October 19, 2002
Reviewer: An 11-year old gamer
When I first played this game I totally hated it.But when suddenly I rented it yesterday I was playing it non-stop till 12:30 midnight!Buy this game!

Pretty good, October 16, 2002
Reviewer: A gamer from Sweden
First off, it takes a lot for me to give a game 5 stars. A 5-star would be excellent graphics and a gameplay that I can keep coming back to. It'd basically be online, multiplayer games. But let's cover The Thing ...

Initially, the game was slow on action. It does, however, pleasantly surprise you by turning up the intensity with each level. Not every game has that shift in pace; instead, they'd stick with the pace The Thing kept on the 1st level -- i.e. Silent Hill 2 pace. After about 5-6 levels, I was really liking the game. Graphics resemble Half Life. First looking at the back of the box box, I thought it utilized the Half-Life engine. Seeing some of the creepers in the game, I think so even more. Just speculation. That said, it keeps a Half Life (PC) quality in graphics. Definitely not stunning, yet not bad. You could demand more from a title on the X-box, though.

Gameplay is definitely geared towards the console. You have a 3rd person view, and you can not look up or down without entering 1st person view. In 1st person view, you can not move the character. You basically see your crosshair and can move it freely. That's it. But it doesn't make it a bad game. Being a 1st person shooter fan, I didn't have any problems with this configuration. This said, the game is again geared for the console. Not the PC. Gameplay is nice. There's not exactly "bosses" that you have to measure up to and beat. It works the way that there's an intensifying level of more powerful foes to battle.

The story and missions make complete sense. It's cool that the game gets better instead of keeping a set pace of action. The levels are quite interesting. It's hard to "forget" to pick up key objects, as it might not be in other games. You've got decent supply of ammo and health, a nice arsenal of firepower, complete with a separate inventory where you can keep grenades, medical kits, and other items. As you meet people in the game, they team up and assist you in battles. You can order them to stay or follow at a spot, provide them with weapons and other items. Similarly, some of these people have the ability to heal you. Others are engineers and can fix items in the environment, like the control-panel for a door to a weapons-storage room.

There is one gripe that I have with the game. On the "normal" difficulty, there's quite a long time between save-points. This makes it difficult, and at times very frustrating. For example, you beat a thing perfectly and move on just to throw a grenade on the floor by mistake and blow yourself up or something. Then, you have to go back and beat that thing again maybe not as good as last time, etc. Or, once done perfectly, you enter a room with cannons that start firing at you and you die. It's kinda like you have to die X times to learn the environment before you have recon'd the area well enough to make it through.

Pretty good, October 16, 2002
Reviewer: tate c. chesley from Anchorage, AK United States
I was surprised with this game. I actually enjoyed it better then Dead to Rights. Some parts freaked me out when the crab things jumped out at you and some of the levels you just have to run to get to a door to get some ammo or health. Overall I enjoyed this game very much.

Atmosphere is everything, October 13, 2002
Reviewer: goatman_1 from Japan
Normally, I find games made for multiple systems to be generally weak, or only as good as the weakest platform on the market. Since the Xbox is the baddest machine on the market, even though it might not always have the baddest games to accompany it, a lot of these games seem really watered down. The Thing is a nice exception to this rule. It's not the greatest game I've ever played, but it's definitely the best Xbox game I've played since Hunter: The Reckoning.

Ok, while the use of such an old, relatively tired license might seem a bit odd for those who don't remember the eighties as clearly as old guys like me, it lends itself perfectly to the survival horror genre. "Half-Life" always sort of reminded me of "The Thing" so it's nice to see the game steal a lot of inspiration back from games and movies it inspired over the years.

The one thing the game nails right on the head is the atmosphere. Paranoia rules the day. Are your allies infected, waiting to turn on you at any minute? Do they think the same thing about you? Are you all infected? The use of NPC's to further the plot and mold the atmosphere is used to perfection. NPC's might not be infected when you start, but in the heat of battle can become infected and turn on you. Everyone is a potential enemy. The game tries to further this by creating a NPC interface that revolves around building trust and quelling suspicion. While it's not a major part of the game, it does serve the atmosphere and keep you on your toes. The sound also helps build paranoia by doling it out in small or large doses. Footsteps in the snow or something banging on the wall can be really freaky. Aside from adding to the paranoia, the sound really isn't exceptional.

The graphics are good, but not the best. You can tell the graphics have been cleaned up considerably for the Xbox, but they are still a wee bit grainy and even laggy at times. I found the lag to be a personal irritant. This is the first game I've ever played on the Xbox with any lag at all, and although its minor compared to a lot of PC games on the market, it was still a little irritating. I personally think console games have no excuse for lag. It's not like they're dealing with an aging PC or something, they already have the specifications they need to build the game. The lag isn't horrible, but it's noticeable. Most people probably won't care.

The game-play itself is quite good and is what puts the game over the top in my book. All of the monsters remain threatening no matter how small they are. The big monsters are very difficult and the AI is exceptional. I spent a lot of time sneaking around with practically no health trying to avoid monsters, and it was easier said than done. A lot of times you are forced into combat, and when you are, get ready for a lot of gun switching. You have to beat the big guys down to nothing with machine guns and shotguns and then turn the flamethrowers on them which requires you to get very close. Not easy.

My only complaint about the control is the duck feature. In the control configuration I used, the stick for movement made you duck when you pushed it. In the heat of battle while running for my life, I would suddenly find myself in a duck walk getting beat on by some nasty critter. My only other complaint has to do with the save game feature. I'm sure checkpoint saves, or in game saves that require some device, in this case a recorder, are necessary for games that require memory cards, but with the Xbox's big hard drive, it's just irritating. Please, someone out there figure this out.

Anyway, there are lots of new Xbox games coming out, many of which I've played, few of which are good. The Thing is a good, safe bet. It's not the new Halo, but it's a great single player game. It's well worth your time and money.

The qualities of "The Thing", October 11, 2002
Reviewer: Antonio Mosso from Washington, DC United States
What's hot:
-Pretty scary

What's not:
-It's so complicated(especially the 2nd level)
-Confusing gameplay
-Graphics need some work

What's strange:
-What is the deal with this trust system?

The overall:
-This is actually a game based on a movie. So if you liked the movie, you may like this. Otherwise, screw this game.

3.5 Stars, October 9, 2002
Reviewer: jsnow2 from Alexandria, Virginia United States
A decent enough game. But I don't really think the ads really reflect the true nature of the gameplay. I thought there would be so much more to dealing with the possibility of an "infected" team member. I also don't really buy into the story angle that the game takes. I am a huge fan of the film, and I was hoping it would be modeled a little closer to that storyline. Instead, huge liberties were taken by Vivendi Universal. The Graphics are stellar, and the gameplay is really well done. I suppose I just wish I enjoyed the games storyline a little more.

A Game Player/Buyer's Practical Review, October 7, 2002
I've reviewed a few X-Box games here, so before I continue, I ask that after reading this review, please vote as to whether or not it was helpful so I know how/if I'm helping for your game purchases. Thanks! I'm changing my reviews to give purchase/rent/buy recommendations, as well as the 5-star system.

"The Thing" is one of the more surprisingly enjoyable games I've purchased recently. For those on the fence, on my new rating system I would give this a "good buy". To give you a better understanding of this rating, I would give "Halo" a "definitely buy" rating, "GunMetal" would get a "rent only", and "Smashing Drive" would receive an "avoid" rating. With that said, let's get down to details:

Graphics: Graphics are well-done and rated about a 3.5 to 4 out of 5. The colors are well-integrated, snow/fog perception is visually well done. Texture mapping onto various "thing" creatures can be a bit redundant, but doesn't detract from game play. Conceptually, the graphics are similar to Halo. The mapping of character voices to mouth movements is a bit puppet-like, but it's understood that do so would require a much more programming effort, and again, doesn't detract from the story. There is some granularity on certain images, but the content is large, so some work is spared. Again, the graphics are fine, and do not detract from playability of this game at all. You may need to tweak your TV's video settings if you're used to watching DVD movies often because there are many dark scenes that may require a darkened room to play, or adjusted contrast/brightness (increased Gamma). Occasionally, when your character is too close to battle, the view switches from an "behind the back" third person, to a first-person. Sometimes this can be a bit jerky, or can be accompanied by video clipping (i.e., where parts of the characters seem to be "cut off" or disappear through walls), causing disorientation for the player, but again, doesn't happen enough to be a serious problem.

Sound/music: Sounds are rated 3.5 to 4 also. The sounds for certain weapons as the shotgun are superb with nice subtle additions, such as the clink of shells falling on hard floors, recocking of the gun, and the "schluck, schluk" of reloading more shells. The sounds of "things" dying is can be repetitive, and it would have been nicer to have a few more variations on this. The sound of the wind howling during outdoor missions never becomes overstated, and the repeating track works well. The background mood music is very well done. The tense sounds or sudden pizzicato play very well into the story. When I first started playing this game at night with all the lights out, the mood music started to give me the same fearful anticipation that watching a good horror movie will do. Sounds of doors shutting, computers working, electrical boxes being repaired, and circuit breakers being thrown are realistic.

Game play/controls: This category rates a solid 4. An interesting quirk of this game occurs during loading of missions, which in no way affects game play. During loading from the DVD-ROM a "loading progress" indicator graphic of a single alien cell morphing into a human cell moves with a very jerky motion from left to right, followed by the words "Assimilation Complete" typed out. This doesn't affect game play at all, but more care should have been taken to not detract from the mood between missions. Another slightly annoying thing is the fact that there is no directly accessible save function (from the start button menu). You have to find "data recorders" throughout each mission at various steps along the way to save your progress. Usually these are located in places just prior to some perilous action, however, sometimes they're placed near the end of a mission, and possibly nowhere near the initial action of a following mission. If your character is killed in a new mission, you can simply restart the mission as many times as you need, but if you exit the game, or have to shut down your X-Box, you may have to replay a bit more than you'd like of an earlier mission (from where you had saved at a data recorder location) up to where you'd actually left off in a following mission. The flow of story and action is smooth, and the addition of movie-like scenes between action is very cool, though sometimes at the end of a scene you may be placed right in the middle of critical action without enough time to assimilate your situation, and the next thing you know, you're toast. The controls are standard, however, the left thumbstick controls ALL of your movement, and the right thumbstick is only for "panning" left or right, or to lean outward left or right. This is different from Halo which uses the left thumbstick to move, and the right one to "turn your head" to view separately from movement. If you've played Halo often, it takes a little getting used to, but you'll adapt quickly. The other controls are very simple to use, and there are only a few functions so as to avoid complication. As I said above, playing this game at night with all the lights off can be creepy at first, so the anxious tension comes across very well. The game is rated "M" for Mature, mostly for occasional obscenities/language, and violence. I'm glad Black Ice (the creators) didn't hold back with language; it's probably about a "PG-13" rating, maybe pushing "R", but to have toned it down would have made the game into a parody of what it is now. The game features a great combination of problem solving with action-less action than Halo, but makes up for it with the heightened tension conveyed in playing out a Sci-Fi horror movie game.

I had no idea of what to expect when I had purchased this game, not having read any other reviews (which I usually do beforehand), but I was not let down, and I'd recommend it for purchase.

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