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Video Game / The Thing (2002)

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The Thing is a survival horror game from the year 2002. It acts as a sequel to the film The Thing (1982).

After communications have been lost with Antarctic U.S. Outpost 31, a team of special forces is sent in to investigate. John Blake is the leader of one of the two units, and finds the Outpost destroyed and deserted, with the frozen body of Childs and a recording by R.J. MacReady offering little insight into what happened. When the second unit encounters more aliens at the Norwegian camp and gets decimated, Blake heads over and finds himself forced into a fight to stop the Things from spreading further.

No relation to the 1988 game of the same name.


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The video game contains examples of:

  • Air-Vent Passageway: At one point, Blake acquires access to another room by walking hunched through a four-foot-wide air duct.
  • Always Close: After you defeated one of the bosses, there's a bomb countdown and you need to run back to the elevator. The thing is, even if you arrived at the elevator with 30 seconds left, the bomb will explode, killing your teammate in the process.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Handled similarly to the film, but sadly not a tenth as scary, as the revealed Things are scripted events, don't really look like much and are killed off almost immediately.
  • Armies Are Evil: Unsurprisingly, the U.S. army wants to weaponize the Thing. Colonel Whitley even shoots Dr. Faraday when he objects.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Col. Whitley's soldiers. They never take cover, and in one section, where laser trip bombs are hidden all over in a maze like warehouse, they will kill themselves walking into the more obvious ones.
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  • Big Bad: Col. R.C. Whitley.
  • Boss Arena Idiocy: The final boss just so happens to be placed in an area where there are flammable barrels all around, and for some reason, when you shoot them, they shoot fire inwardly towards the Whitley-Thing instead of exploding.
  • The Cameo: John Carpenter contributes his likeness to the character of Dr. Faraday, and MacReady, alive and well, shows up to help you fight the final boss.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The first two squad mates you receive after encountering the Thing turn out to be infected, but neither of them attack you when you're alone with them, and if you give them the blood test before the scripted event that turns them into Things, it shows that they're human. In fact, the "tests" only seem to work when scripted to, and teammates can reveal themselves as Things when you hit certain plot flags even if you've just tested them and confirmed they were human. This is mostly so the game can get you alone whenever it requires you to be alone.
  • Canon Immigrant: The video game version officially follows the events after the film ended, and reveals what happened to Childs and RJ MacReady... Childs died of exposure, and RJ survived.
  • Continuity Nod: There are several through the game: In the introductory tutorial level, which takes place at the remains of Outpost 31, Blake and his team can find the tape recorder MacReady used in the movie and play back his audio journal. You also get to explore the Norwegian outpost, and the UFO makes an appearance as well.
  • Creator Cameo: John Carpenter supplies the voice and likeness of Dr. Sean Faraday.
  • Dying as Yourself: Captain Pierce shoots himself when he realizes he's been infected so he won't become a Thing.
  • Eerie Arctic Research Station: The game continues from the first film after a rescue team is sent to investigate the remains of Outpost 31, then later runs into even more aliens at different research outposts and covert military bases across the continent.
  • Flesh Golem: Not explained particularly well, but some of the creatures, particularly the 150-foot tall monstrosity, greatly exceed a human in mass, thus implying they are made of several humans processed into pure biomass and fused together.
  • Gas Chamber: There is a scene where the protagonist is lured into a room quickly being filled with poison gas. The message left on a computer screen in the room is a nice touch:
    Breathe deep, Blake. Breathe deep and die.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Subverted. When one of the squad mates early in the game commits suicide, it seems like the game won't show it...and then he blows his brains all over the wall in full view. And you can examine the massive hole in his head after you regain control.
  • Gunship Rescue: R.J. MacReady returns in a helicopter in the final level to help out Blake against the giant Colonel Whitley-Thing.
  • The Immune: It's mentioned that Blake has an unusual resistance to Thing infection, which greatly interests the scientists studying the creature. This also explains how Blake doesn't turn into the Thing despite all the bites and ooze he ends up taking over the course of the game.
  • Impostor Exposing Test: Used as a mechanic. Blood test kits consist of a syringe pistol that draws a blood sample, and then adds a chemical that reacts to it by producing heat. If the blood cooks and turns brown, they're a person. If the syringe breaks, they're a monster. However, the test isn't foolproof for story reasons.
  • Kill It with Fire: This is averted with the Spiderhead Things and Exposed Things as they can be permanently killed with conventional firearms. The larger Things including the Bosses play this trope straight but can also be finished off with high explosives as a nod to how MacReady killed the Blair Thing at the end of the film..
  • Laser-Guided Karma: No prize for figuring out that Whitley's Thing immunity is all too short lived, as he becomes the Whitley Thing, a monstrous version of the Blair Thing that combines all Thing biomass from Gen Inc. and requires a helicopter and massive amount of fire to kill.
  • Lighter and Softer: An inadvertent byproduct of expanding the arena (you aren't trapped in a tiny little space with an unknown number of monsters running around in disguise as in the movie), giving you far superior weaponry, and the limitations of the graphics of the time. In the movie, the "thing-outs" were both nauseating and terrifying; here they are almost casual events, happening to cardboard cutout characters, and quite quickly disposed of.
  • Loading Screen: The loading screen shows a 'Thing' cell attacking, absorbing and imitating a regular animal cell, taken from the movie that inspired it.
  • Made of Incendium: Enemies in the game adaptation will ignite at small fire sources. They may light each other on fire if they collide with one another, and may even light the player up as well.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Things and enemy soldiers will fight each other as well as you and your squad. Since the soldiers lack fire-based weapons they will get wrecked against anything but the small crawling head-Things.
  • One Bullet Clips: If you reload a magazine-fed weapon, any ammunition in the old magazine will be wasted.
  • Plot Hole: The game never explains how MacReady survived in the cold for three months (the timeframe between the end of the film, and the beginning of the game), and how he managed to get a flyable helicopter. One possibility is that he was captured by Gen Inc. and held as a potential test subject, only to eventually escape, and steal a helicopter. A much darker interpretation is that MacReady is actually a Thing by this point, and killed the Whitley Thing to facilitate his own escape to the mainland.
  • Professor Guinea Pig: Colonel Whitley injects himself with a genetically modified "denatured" version of the Thing in hopes of curing his terminal cancer. Needless to say, the modified strain of the Thing isn't as "denatured" as Gen Inc. thought and Whitley ends up being taken over, though it's unclear the extent to which Whitley was subverted by the Thing versus him simply being a megalomaniac.
  • Recycled Title: Despite being a sequel and not a direct adaptation of the film, this game uses the exact same name as the movie. Possibly justified, since it is in a different medium.
  • Redshirt Army: Your squad members can - and will - die, or turn out to be Things.
  • Sanity Meter: The game gives your party members sanity meters. If a Thing tries to eat them, they won't react well. (Not uncommonly, one of them is a thing, and the others utterly freak out when they're betrayed.)
  • Shapeshifter Baggage: Whitley goes from an ordinary Man-Thing to a ten story high monster when he finally transforms for the Final Boss fight.
  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear: The game does this practically every level. This game isn't an RPG but is filled with Guest Star Party Members. It's a Survival Horror game, so ammunition and weaponry are limited. Your party members seem to desert you after each load screen for a new level and take the weapons with them. They apparently think that they have a better chance without the guy who gave them their guns.
  • Stress Vomit: Your teammates do this, a lot, usually in response to gory visuals. You can even get them to go in stereo if you're really good!
  • Unwinnable by Mistake: There is a stage where the player descends a long staircase, and has to deal with automatic turrets on every level, scalding steam vents, seemingly endless streams of scuttling creatures that pop out of dead bodies (and attack you from front and behind), and the medic, the only hope of surviving the stage, turns into a monster at random points. If the player doesn't have enough health packs, or enough firepower, it's impossible to get through the stage(though there is one way to make it easier, if you leave the medic near the top of the staircase and run back up to him to get healed instead of having him follow you, he doesn't seem to turn into a monster).
  • The Virus: The covert military group researching (and trying to weaponize) the Thing actually classified it as the Cloud Virus, which could be Fridge Brilliance since actual viruses reproduce in a manner somewhat similar to the Thing - namely infiltrating a cell and then hijacking the machinery of said host cell to produce more copies of itself, render the cell difficult to detect by the immune system, and so on.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Characters tend to vomit on a regular basis. The puke-o-rama is a reaction that the NPCs have to gruesome and outright mind-damaging sights like carcasses, splatterage, and the occasional roasted Thing-bits here and there. It's up to you as Blake to calm down their nerves by usually taking them away from where the offending sight for a breather.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: The Paranoia Fuel affects your squadmates: they don't know that you're not the Thing, and you don't know that they're not the Thing, not for sure. You can use the blood test kits to verify if your teammates are human, but more importantly, you can use the kits to show them that you're human. If you don't, and they get paranoid and freaked out enough, they will try to kill you. That's actually a far greater danger than having them "thing-out" as, rather like the movie, the actual Things are Clipped Wing Angels and quite quickly killed off after revealing themselves.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Your squadmates are frequently separated from you at the end of a level, even if they didn't die or turn into the Thing, and (other than Captain Pierce) you never see or hear from them again.
  • Where It All Began: Blake fights the Final Boss Thing at the excavated site of the UFO crash where it arrived on Earth.
  • They Look Like Us Now: Par for the course, it is based on the film. However, you get a blood test kit, consisting of a syringe gun that introduces a chemical that reacts to the blood by releasing heat. If the syringe breaks, the test subject drops the disguise. If not, they relax a little. However, certain enemies transform during scripted events, even if you test them beforehand and they're declared "clean".
  • You Lose at Zero Trust: The game is entirely based on this. Everyone is so paranoid that if they lose all trust in you they immediately assume you are the Thing and start shooting at you. To make matters worse, they won't cooperate if they don't trust you enough. You can partially fix this by giving them guns, running blood tests to prove your humanity, or killing a member of the group that is a Thing and allowing it to expose its horrid form.

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