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Will you see that? Thing turned big 4-0 this week. John CarpenterThis sci-fi masterpiece, which was largely ignored by the public in its early releases, has become one of the most beloved horror films of all time. We’re not here to talk about that. I’m here to take you on a journey back to the little-known video game from 2002 and how it was (at the time) one of the more ambitious “next generation” games of all.

Around the turn of the millennium, Universal Interactive was looking through the back catalog of IP owned by the studio and decided on Carpenter’s Thing prepared for a game adaptation due to the ambiguous ending that video games can develop (additional note: very surprised they didn’t try to make Halloween game). With Konami as publisher, they are racing to develop a title with hopes of a 2002 release for the film’s 20th anniversary. After being impressed with their 2000 video game evolve, Konami and Universal requested assistance from the company Computer Artworks to develop the game. Surprisingly in an era of poor and rushed game adaptation, Computer Artworks was given relatively free rein on the project.

The game follows Captain JF Blake, the leader of the Bravo team. After the events of the film, two US Special Forces teams are sent to investigate the missing US and Norwegian Antarctic camps and uncover what happened. The game starts off quickly too, dropping you right in the middle of the action seeing the bloody aftermath of everything that happens as you seek to piece it all together. This is where the most interesting element of the game comes into play: the fear/belief system. If you’ve heard anything about this game, it’s probably the one you’ve heard the most. Throughout the game Blake will be able to lead an AI-controlled team of NPCs through the environment and give them different commands. Soldiers have higher health and better weapons and are able to evolve in battle, medics keep the team alive by having unlimited healing packs (take *that* Devil’s residence), and engineers fix various environmental barriers.

The trick, these NPC teammates will not always trust you. They suspect you as a thing in itself. When their trust is low, they may take actions such as ignoring you outright, or worse when they are sufficiently afraid of you, they will even attack you themselves and you will be forced to take action against them. You can earn their trust by giving them ammo and health packs, leading battles, or like in the movies giving yourself a blood test in front of them. They start to distrust you if you ignore them, leaving them injured, or even worse: accidentally hitting them with a stray bullet with an unforgiving game-friendly shot. The most random aspect is the infection system, where one or more of your squad members get infected by the Thing and turn into horrific, nightmare-like creatures from the movies.

Carpenter video game The Thing

Throughout the game Blake begins to piece together the events of the original film (and the yet-to-be-made 2011 prequel) and eventually uncovers the secret conspiracy of a company called Gen-Inc. who has a team there doing scientific experiments and research on the Object. Led by Dr. Sean Farady (John Carpenter), they are out to prove that the Thing can be controlled. It is eventually revealed that Blake’s commander, Colonel Whitley, has plans to use the Object as a biological weapon and as a cure for terminal cancer; subverts expectations of the film and has the traitor exposed/infected in all the action. Finally Blake has a fight with the Thing-infected Whitley on the Thing’s original spaceship, defeating him and saving the world from a major plague. And close the loop on this makeshift “trilogy”

Given these elements, the film not only continues the film in a fitting way, it matches the tension and anarchy for which the Carpenter classic is known. Years before board games The problem: Infection at Outpost 31 do it, this is the place to fix your hidden identity game with famous license. The game was released in 2002 with near-instant success, selling over a million copies across PC, Xbox, and Playstation 2. Fans and critics alike were lured by the more action-oriented horror genre, something that (at the time) still had a heavy focus. on survival and puzzle solving. Best of all, fans loved the reveal of Childs and MacReady’s fate from the original film. I’m not going to spoil it here but you don’t learn the fate of any of them until the end of the game and it’s a surprising reveal, to say the least.

Video game The Thing 2002

Thing ultimately is a game that translates the Carpenter films into fun gameplay mechanics and tells a cohesive but faithful continuation of the source material. Unfortunately with Konami losing the rights to the film and Computer Artworks under in 2003, the game’s sequel never made it past the proof-of-concept phase. Worse still, the game hasn’t gotten a re-release of any kind, cause Thing has fallen into relative obscurity in recent years.

If you have the means (aka old consoles lying around like I do), I sincerely implore you to find a copy Thingwhich remains an excellent film-based video game 20 years later.

Video game The Thing ps 2

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