michael.geary    ORIGINAL GONGSTER

Friday The 13th: First Impressions

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Credit: GameSpot

Friday The 13th, the original film that started this horror franchise, was made with a rather small budget (near half a million), and ended up becoming one the best horror films of the generation and generated nearly 40 million in sales. 

Obviously this is a well known and loved series. With crowdfunding from Kickstarter, it was made apparent that people would want this franchise revived into a game. 

Illfonic, the developers, would soon go to making this happen for gamers and fans. So, a few days after release, and some time spent on it, have they done the justice? I'm here to try and answer that question.

Upon starting the game up, they really want you to know this is Jason’s game, not your’s. You get the signature warning cue we've all heard watching the movies. When Jason was on the move, and you see his trademark hockey mask look while brandishing his machete while at the main menu. 

The aesthetics are kind of hit and miss. Running on the Unreal Engine 4, the game looks good, and the way they worked with the environment all looks good for the engine. But, there are the occasional hiccups with Jason's weapons clipping through the environment, and the opening scene used to set the mood of every match (That you are actually never able to skip).

It shows Jason slice down a victim in sight as we see a counselor react in horror with a jarringly contorted cartoon like expression. The look of it all is overall good and isn't game breaking, just needs a few little tweaks it seems. The gameplay though can be kind of off putting for some people though.

When initially starting a match, you’ll either be spawned as Jason, or a counselor. Both have their own set of controls and objectives. As a counselor your goal is to either survive, or escape. 

This is easier said than done though. To survive, you can call the police and await for their arrival, where you'll meet up with them and win, or if you can last 15 min till the timer expires, you’ll have survived. To escape, you can either get out of by taking a boat or a car. These require you to explore the map and lodges looking for gas, keys, batteries, and propellers. 

While prompting next to one of these vehicles, parts will engage context-sensitive mini games requiring you to press the corresponding button. Press the wrong button, and you make a bit of noise, tipping Jason off to your shenanigans. 

As Jason your goal is simple, kill the counselors however you can. Jason of course has various abilities: You can morph around the map to travel around faster since he has a slow lumbering walk. Shifting allows a teleportation mechanic that goes into tunnel vision to help you travel faster. Sense allows you to highlight nearby counselors running in fear, helping you keep track of your prey. Stalk allows you to become harder to detect from the counselors so you can zero in a surprise kill quietly. 

On top of all this you earn XP, which unlocks new characters, outfits, as well as helping you buy new kill animations for your Jason, and roll perks for your counselors. Perks give various buffs such as XP+, faster vehicle speeds when escaping, or stat buffs. With two different styles of gameplay though, it’s a bit awkward when first starting out.

An asymmetric game like this, one would think there would be some sort of tutorial mode to help people understand how to play. Yes, there's a “How to Play” option in the main menu, but this was a missed opportunity by the developers. Upon clicking, all we get is a few pics and we are told what Jason and counselors can and can’t do essentially. 

If you’re someone like me and follow games a little prior to release, you’d already know the jist of the "How to Play" menu. To truly find some control options, I had to go to the settings menu, click on controller layout, and study what Jason's buttons were, as well as the counselors. Jumping into a match, I found myself dying within the first couple of minutes, as well as in my second match. 

As an avid online gamer, this can be a bit off putting. No one likes to play a game for the first time and not be able to have a moment to figure out how to play. It really feels like this game would benefit from allowing you to play with bots with difficulties or something till someone feels ready to tackle in on the community. One thing they did not miss though, and I'm glad they didn't, is the tribute it pays to the series as whole.

This game truly flaunts its Friday The 13th banner with pride, and these developers show that they do care to make it as authentic to its source and went good lengths. All of Jason’s executions you perform on your victims (or receive), all take you back to the days when Jason performed them on the big screen. I don't care what kinda fan you are, but when Jason performs the sleeping bag kill on a player, we all find it either kinda funny, or satisfying depending on what end you’re on. 

None of the executions felt lame or standard since they pulled some from his extensive features. Some nice little touches you’ll notice if you’re a fan of the franchise will soon take over your attention too. I found myself in one match realizing they was a yellow raincoat hung up next to a door, and that door was red. 

When Sean Cunningham made the original movie, he made it dark to give off the tense horror feel, but made actors wear the raincoats and the doors red so audiences would be able to tell things apart from the darkness. Seeing little references in the game showed that the developers really clung to their source material, and fans should appreciate these little touches as they play and notice. That’s if you get to play though.

Coming from a very small development group, this game is well made, and it's impressive for how many developers there were. But since their launch on Friday, this game has hit a rather big roadblock. On their Twitter page, it says they accounted for up to 5,000 players initially, and accounted their servers for up 30,000. 

By Friday afternoon, their servers were melting, and players around the globe took to the internet to either rage or inform them of the trouble. 

It turned out that roughly 90,000 players were all trying to play this game. With so many people trying to log on at once, and servers that accounted for up to 30,000, they were well over double what they even expected, and it caused problems getting into matches, retaining levels from playing, and even just getting to the main screen. 

They’ve been giving periodic updates, and have been trying to fix all issues, but for many people, this has left a sour taste in their mouth's. The game does seem to have a promising future, though, but this is something to keep in mind for now. 

While the short-term may be a bit rocky, what I have played so far has all been enjoyable. After the first few matches of trial and error, I was able to see what I did wrong, and figure out how to play properly, and it has been very fun. 

I have accidentally killed a fellow counselor in a match when I was revived as Tommy Jarvis with his shot gun, and instead of being yelled at, and kicked out of the group, my random teammates were understanding and said it happens sometimes, and we all had a chuckle. 

Playing as Jason felt very satisfying while hunting down the counselors, and never overpowering considering they have been able to stun me with pocket knives and firecrackers. They even turned my attention toward a radio, making me look like a fool a few times. 

With the promise of future content, including a single player campaign, this game has the potential to be a big hit of the year. What there is so far, though, is very fun, and the online players I have met have all agreed it’s very entertaining and promising. 

But with its problems so early on in this launch, it’s best to wait a bit till they get things sorted out so the server issues don’t ruin the game itself for anyone.

Have you gotten a chance to play yet? What are your thoughts?

Michael is an English major and a father of 3. He likes to spend his free time gaming, jogging, watching shows, and writing.
Francisco.Lahoz    ORIGINAL GONGSTER
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