To counteract this fear and loss of trust, you'll have to literally win back your team members by performing several different tasks depending on the severity of their mental state. For example, if one of your guys gets a little freaked out because he saw a grotesque corpse, you can give him a shot of adrenaline to calm him down. In addition, team members whom you first come across usually won't trust you, while the ones you have with you may lose trust in you if you do things like accidentally shoot them during a battle. You can win the trust of these characters by simply giving them weapons or ammo. All of the characters you come across in the game are unique individuals with very distinct personalities. Some characters curse extensively, and some have foreign accents and begin shouting in their native language during intense situations. These distinctive traits really give the characters lives of their own, which works well with the game's concept of trust and fear, since you'll actually end up caring about some of the individuals in your party. When you test teammates to see if they're infected by the Thing, and the syringe filled with contaminated blood explodes, you'll get a little misty-eyed when you have to torch them.
Not all of your comrades will automatically trust you.
The game's action often takes center stage. You can run around from a third-person perspective while firing your weapons, and you can also switch to a first-person targeting view, but this firing mode limits your character's movement to just leaning. Most of the action sequences put you up against what the game refers to as Thing Beasts, which are about the size of a dog and extremely fast. These small creatures attack in groups and can be killed by gunfire or grenades. Larger manifestations of the Thing have to be dealt with by a two-stage attack. The first is a barrage of gunfire to deplete its health, followed by a good measure of fire from a blowtorch, flamethrower, or incendiary grenades. You have a variety of weapons and items that you can pick up as you progress through the game, including sniper rifles, night-vision goggles, pistols, and machine guns. The weapons, ammo, and items you pick up are in fairly logical locations and fit into the game's storyline. The puzzles are equally well constructed and for the most part fit with the game's environment. For instance, in one scene you find yourself weaponless in an environment surrounded by enemies. Near your location is a broken door, a trapped engineer, and a soldier who is out of ammo. The first thing you have to do is go find some ammo, bring it to the soldier so he trusts you, then take him to the enemy-filled area and rescue the engineer so he can fix the door for you. While the solution sounds simple, things are more spread out and less obvious at first, and the solutions are easier said than done, but even if you mess up and die, there are location-based save points all over so you never have to retread too much ground.
Visually, The Thing is a terrific-looking Xbox game. The character models are detailed and feature expressive faces that help reflect their state of mind. The animations for firing weapons, moving, and interacting with the environment are all very well done. The environments themselves range from desolate snowy terrain at night to underground caverns to densely packed bases. All of them are very detailed and look weatherworn, which totally fits with what was seen in the original film. The alien creatures you'll encounter are suitably grotesque, as are the transformations of seemingly normal people into the creatures. The textures and lighting in the Xbox version are fantastic; everything just looks so much more detailed than in the PS2 version. Unlike in the PS2 release, the flashlight is actually a light source in the Xbox version, which makes it extra creepy since a lot of the areas you have to explore are really dark, forcing you to use your flashlight to see. The Xbox version also has an extremely stable frame rate that never really slows down, even when tons of enemies appear on the screen at once. More variety in the ordinary manifestations of the Thing that you face would have been welcome, but the few that are shown look good. One problem is that the game's camera angle sometimes gets stuck behind walls, but this isn't a huge deal.
There's plenty of action and suspense in The Thing.
As far as the sound goes, The Thing's musical accompaniment features the same creepy music from the original film, which really helps set the mood. The voice-over work is extensive and very believable, though the dialogue at times seems to be unnecessarily filled with expletives, seemingly just for the sake of including them. All of the sound effects for the creatures seem like they came right from the movie and fit very well.
In the end, The Thing's unique blend of action, puzzle-solving, and team management works very well. The mix of gameplay elements really helps to keep the game interesting the whole way through, since at just about every turn the game asks you to do something that you haven't done before. Most of the puzzles are logically constructed, though a few require repetitive actions, like taking out a seemingly endless horde of creatures. Those can be a drag, but the bland sequences are few and far between. The game even offers confrontations with boss creatures that force you to think and fire at the same time. Even more of these would have been great, since the few that are in the game are extremely exciting. Along the way, the team management aspect of The Thing adds an interesting yet almost unnecessary twist, since you can almost completely ignore it and still manage to get through the game. While that might be the case, when you look at everything the game offers in terms of its gameplay, presentation, and story, it's hard not to appreciate The Thing whether you're a fan of the film it's based on or just a fan of the survival horror genre in general. The Thing is a great game that could have been done better in some ways, but not by much.