Even if they haven't seen the movie, after playing through this rather lengthy and involving game, survival horror fans will more than likely find that The Thing is one of the best such games for the PS2.
The Thing is a horror-themed action adventure game for the PlayStation 2 and is based on John Carpenter's classic 1982 horror film of the same name. The game serves as a sequel, picking up three months after the events in the film. Yet even if they haven't seen the movie, after playing through this rather lengthy and involving game, survival horror fans will more than likely find that The Thing is one of the best such games for the PS2.
The original film was about a team of scientists in Antarctica who came across an alien that could perfectly imitate other forms of life. Unfortunately for them, the alien was less than friendly and ultimately killed off most of the team by infecting, mimicking, and attacking its members. In the game, you control the captain of a rescue team that's sent in to investigate why communications with the Antarctic research facility, where most of the film took place, have ceased. Soon after arriving, you quickly find yourself in a very similar situation to the one faced by the science team in the movie. You soon discover the nature of the organism you're facing--that it has the ability to perfectly imitate the victim it claims--which soon leads to distrust and fear within your ranks, since any one of you could potentially be the Thing.
The game starts you off at the research facility with three other team members: a medic, an engineer, and a soldier. You learn that the base has been almost totally destroyed. Your commanding officer instructs you and your team to try to find out what happened, and from this point you eventually make your way through the base, finding a few clues that fans of the movie will recognize as Blair's partially constructed ship and R.J. MacReady's hidden recording. Most of this early section of the game serves as a tutorial--text messages will frequently pop up with information regarding the various gameplay elements as you encounter them for the first time. For example, when you first arrive at the base, the game lets you know that you can't stay out in the cold for extended durations. Moments later when you encounter a gruesome scene and your medic begins to panic, a text message appears giving you an overview of how you can help calm down your teammates. These tutorials can be turned off if you wish, but they are very informative and help you understand the basic mechanics of how the game works and how it works differently from other horror-themed games you may be familiar with.
After you've learned the workings of the game and have met the objectives at the research facility, you'll then make your way to a nearby Norwegian research facility where the first major action sequences transpire. Here's where we'll leave you hanging in suspense, since detailing any more of the game's storyline would spoil it. After all, perhaps the single greatest motivation to play all the way through The Thing ends up being the desire to reveal all of the game's intriguing story, which is very well done and told through in-game cinematic sequences.
The actual gameplay in The Thing mainly consists of three elements: standard survival horror puzzle-solving, third-person and first-person shooting, and basic team management. All three of these elements work together in that most of the puzzles in the game require you to effectively use the abilities of your team members while being proficient with weaponry yourself. While the first two elements are pretty typical of other games in the genre, the team management element is something that is fairly innovative, though it isn't an essential part of the gameplay. Each of the teammates you pick up falls into one of the three character classes mentioned above: soldier, medic, and engineer. The soldiers follow you around and provide additional firepower. The medics can heal you and your party members but lack the ability to heal themselves. Engineers are used to fix anything electrical, like doors and power sources. There is a bit of crossover of abilities in that engineers and medics can also use weapons. Plus, your character can do a bit of everything, including repairing some electrical panels for doors and lights, healing teammates as well as himself using health pickups, and of course, firing weapons. The team management commands are minimal and really only consist of telling an engineer to fix something and ordering your team to stay or follow.
The most intriguing aspect of team management is monitoring your party's trust and fear levels. Basically, you have to keep an eye on your team members' mental states in order to manage their performance. You can tell what their mental status is by listening to what they say, paying attention to how they act, and by looking at the fear/trust display in the game's menu system. Your fellow team members may get freaked out for several reasons, including everything from encountering a horribly disfigured body to noticing that you're not fighting an alien foe as fiercely as they think you should be. Seeing these things will cause several reactions. For instance, if one of your team members is terribly frightened by something, he or she may begin to vomit uncontrollably or even lose control of his or her bladder in the heat of battle. If you don't make good decisions or fight diligently against alien attacks, they may begin to disobey your orders and act independently--even going as far as destroying the base.