Halloween’s gone. There are more than a few of us, however, who like to get a cheap thrill out of being scared at times other than the end of October. If you’re clinging desperately to the seasonality of being spooked, and you play video games, you might think “The Thing” for the PS2, based the John Carpenter movie, would deliver some of these scares. It’s a shame it doesn’t.
You’re better off renting the film if you’re looking for plot, because the game only borrows enough from the movie to wreck the adventure.
Kurt Russell and the gang are nowhere to be found. The movie ends with the partial destruction of an Antarctic military base overrun with shape-shifting beings, and the game picks up at this point.
The no-intensity Captain Blake is sent in to investigate the incident, marking the exact instant where Carpenter’s vision is quickly abandoned for sci-fi horror clichÇs and plot twists lacking good writing.
“The Thing” plays out like any other forgettable third-person exploratory game. At its core, it is a substandard action game. There’s no real fun in traveling around the dull environments and defeating the creatures within; most often, it feels like a chore.
“The Thing” doesn’t take what few innovations it offers to particularly interesting conclusions either.
While the game boasts of its “trust / fear” system, a mechanism by which your teammates become suspicious of you and mutiny against your leadership, it’s incredibly simple and forgettable.
Since your teammates aren’t effective and can turn into monsters at any time, who really cares if they trust you or not?
It’s this kind of shoddy game play that completely drains the atmosphere from the rest of the title.
While fans of the movie might remember the tension where the shrieking monsters are shot and set ablaze on film, here this translates to running around in circles around an extremely stupid monster firing a conventional weapon before switching to a flamethrower with the power of a cigarette lighter.
Even this becomes an exercise in frustration. You have a greater chance of hurting yourself with the pitiful amount of flame your weapon creates, and you have to set these “things” on fire twice: once, and then once again when the inferno that engulfs the creature mysteriously goes out, every time. When every opponent in the game has to be dealt with in this matter, things grow old very fast.
It’s just a matter of what you’ll tire of first. Will it be your inadequate abilities, perhaps the inadequate abilities of your team, the apathy that arises in having to deal with them, the stale graphics, or maybe the tedious nature of every battle that arises? If anything,
“The Thing” makes yet another case for why movies and games should exist as separate entities.