by Universal Interactive
Set in the wastelands of the Antarctic this game starts where the 1982 film left off. You are part of a military detachment investigating a destroyed base. Your enemy is a creature that is not only killing your fellow officers but is also assuming their form, a deadly combination. With only a small squad you must search this Antarctic, fear soaked hell, and destroy the multitude of Thing beasts that are an ever present danger to your very existence.
Playing from a third person perspective the first thing that you will notice is that the game has an incredible 3D game engine. From the beginning of the game you'll be amazed by the superb blizzard effects. You actually feel like you are wading through a blizzard as your vision becomes confused in the thick white swirls of falling snow. The character models are also of the highest order and are certainly as good as in any game seen before, yes that includes Final Fantasy X and Metal Gear Solid 2. Not only is the framerate constantly high but also incredibly smooth. Computer Artworks have proved that gorgeous graphics does not have to mean pathetic framerates.
Trust plays a very important role in The Thing. Your comrades are simply not just there to carry out your orders. You have to look after them in order for them to feel OK and to perform orders that you give them. When you come across someone for the first time they will suspect you just as you suspect them (not forgetting that the Thing beasts can assume the form of their victims). Giving someone you come across a weapon or healing their injuries begins to earn trust and this may persuade them to accompany you. In some missions you are alone and you will meet people as you go along. If a squad member gets frightened you have to try and calm them down, either by giving them a weapon that will make them feel secure or by other means such as administering an adrenaline hypo. If a squad member begins to lose it they are no good to anybody. Mutilated corpses is one thing you should try and prevent squad members from seeing as this can often make them go hysterical. As you can see the level of AI in the game is superb and really adds a new dimension to the survival horror genre.
The Things come in a couple of forms. There are the spider-like scuttlers, walkers and the very difficult and very scary, Thing bosses. The more significant 'Things' can only be finished off with a Flame-thrower or Flame Grenade which greatly adds to the challenge. Some of the excellent weapons that are at your disposal include the Pistol, Machine Gun, Shotgun, Flame-thrower, Flame Grenades and Stun Grenades. Unlike a FPS game where the weapons and ammunition are plentiful, here they are not so you have to be careful not to waste your ammo.
The game is difficult enough but one aspect of the game design that can make it even more difficult is the saving process. Instead of being able to save the game anywhere, like most of us PC gamers like, you can only save your game from an audio recorder. There aren't too many of these so this adds to the difficulty of the game. Disappointingly when you complete a level your progress is not autosaved so if you get killed before you find an audio recorder you have to return to the last audio recorder on the previous level. This can get frustrating and I would expect this to be something that is corrected in a patch.
Of course all this looks too good to be true and for a deaf gamer that is exactly the case. The aspects of the game that I have mentioned above rely mainly on sound to convey information to the gamer. One of your squad members will tell you that he just can't take it anymore and this is your cue to go and attempt to comfort him. Unfortunately there are no subtitles in the game so as a deaf gamer you're going to be oblivious to this. Your squad can consist of medics, engineers etc. and when you have a task that is suited to them they will verbally notify you that they can do the job but again this is not conveyed to the deaf gamer. An icon of a speech bubble will appear over a characters head to show that they are talking but there is no indication of what has been said. The lack of subtitles, there are none in the cutscenes either, is a tragedy as it degrades the overall mark of the game to a poor one when it would have received a 9/10 had it been fully subtitled. All tutorial messages are given in text and a superb, in game, Field Manual is available at any time should you be unsure of how to do a particular task. The objectives can be accessed at any time by pressing the F key. Objectives that are given in green are still to be completed whilst those in orange have been completed. The game also makes good use of icons to suggest when something can be interacted with. It is just a crying shame that the subtitles where left out of this game.
Hearing gamers are going to love The Thing. It's gripping tension and unrivalled trust and fear aspects are going to make this a benchmark title in the survival horror genre and if this were a 'normal' games website we wouldn't hesitate to slap a big fat 9/10 at the bottom of this review. However we are looking at the title from a deaf gamers point of view and from this angle the title doesn't fair so well. Let's be blunt about it and say that the lack of subtitles make this a definite no-no title for all but the most enthusiastic of deaf gamers and ultimately it's a big disappointment. If only subtitles had been included it would have been brilliant. Let's pray for a patch to include subtitles although I for one, am not holding my breath.
Overall Game Rating: 5.0/10 The Thing is the game that could have been brilliant if it weren't for the absence of subtitles.
Deaf Gamers comment: The absence of subtitles really make this difficult for deaf gamers. This is a crying shame as otherwise it would have certainly been a title to relish.