(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters, so yell at him about it!! 😉 xoxox)
As a bad omen, to quote Crazy Ralph, “You’re all doomed!”
It may not be Friday the 13th, but the day is finally here. Friday the 13th: The Game has launched on PS4, Xbox One and Steam and needless to say, Jason fans are going rabid. By that, I mean they are bloodthirsty to massacre their friends online and also due to the serious issues the game has been having since the moment it was released, but we can talk about that later. I know the start of this seems like a bad omen for the game and while it’s not perfect nor is it the Friday the 13th game we hoped it would shape up to be, it’s still a tremendous amount of fun despite all of the launch problems along with the other bugs and glitches that are present in the game.
For now, the game is strictly online only, pitting seven players (eight if you manage to radio Tommy Jarvis for help… more on that later) against another player who will be controlling Jason. Guess who everyone wants to play as? During the pre-game cinematic, the counselors sit around a campfire as Jason approaches, dispatching one of them and the other seven are left to scramble. There’s a feeling of anticipation and excitement of whether or not you will be playing Jason. Then once you discover it’s not you, panic and dread start to settle in as you quickly scramble as a counselor to the nearest cabin, searching drawers and shelves for weapons or important vehicle parts that will aid you in your escape. That’s the name of the game here: survival. Players have a set amount of time to survive and they can choose to run from Jason or hide which can be far more difficult that it sounds. You could also find a fuse to repair the phone box to call the police who take a few minutes to arrive, or find missing pieces for one of the two cars or a boat and escape that way. However, once they are fixed and you are fleeing, that doesn’t ensure safety. Jason can appear and halt the car by slamming the hood or yanking the driver of the boat into the water and drowning them. Yes, death truly awaits around nearly every turn here at one of the three maps of Camp Crystal Lake.
Being an online multiplayer, communication is essential for survival (instead of slinging homophobic remarks at one another). Having a headset is a key item the gamer will need before you even start. It’s not mandatory, of course, but it helps to keep in contact with the other players that are in proximity to you. That’s right, you can’t just shout over your headset hoping others will hear you, because that creates noise and makes it easier for Jason to spot you. Only counselors that happen to be nearby can hear one another, unless you have a walkie in which case others with walkies can hear you. I really liked this aspect of the game, because like a horror film, if you walk out into the woods screaming for help, the killer is gonna find you. However, you need to chatter back and forth, so if Jason is close by, he can hear all your little scheming. It’s a real dilemma the game puts you in. To be fair, if Jason is creeping close by, you’ll start to hear that iconic Harry Manfredini score (although one of Jason’s abilities allows him to mute it). My first time playing as Jason, I heard one of the players reveal to another player where he laid a bear trap down and what he planned to do. Needless to say, I sort of crushed that plan by crushing his head.
Each counselor has their own set of skills. Some are better at sneaking or repairs, while others have better stamina or are stronger. Not one counselor is necessarily better than the other, but it’s up to the player on how they use that specific counselors set of skills. I prefer better stamina and health since killing Jason requires a laundry list of shit to do, so I find it better to sneak around. Even if your counselor doesn’t have stats you prefer, there are perks as well only these are chosen at random and cost you experience points. Every match you play earns you points and these points can be spent on improving your character. As I said, for the counselors, it’s totally at random, so you could get something really good like start with a map or a radio or even increase your stamina regeneration that you could then equip to a counselor with lower stamina to even them out. You can also unlock different variations of their outfits, but these can take a while seeing as it takes about ten level ups to get them each time… and there’s 100 levels.
Jason has his own set of unlockables as well that you can purchase using the same points. Seeing as how Jason is overpowered (OP as the kids call it), increasing his stats isn’t necessary and he does have his limitations. Each Jason – represented by different incarnations from various entries in the Friday the 13th series – has their own strengths and weaknesses. Jason from Part 2 can run while his Part 7 counterpart cannot, however he is much stronger and has a faster swim. Different kills can be purchased that Jason can perform with either his hand or the specific weapon that particular Jason is given. Most of the kills are interchangeable between Jasons, but each has three weapons specific kills that only that Jason can use. These kills are brutal the first time you watch them, but even after that initial time, you start to see how poor the animation in this game truly is.
Yes, even though I happen to think most of the character models look decent, especially each Jason, the animations on them are quite awful. Hair seems to unevenly flow in chunks, the mouths don’t open when the speak half the time and I don’t know if this is part of glitching or the animations are incomplete, but often during a kill it’s like whole animations weren’t there. Their expression didn’t morph, it was just like gore appeared on their face suddenly. The best way I can explain it is to ask you think about an exploitation movie’s graphic scene, for example, someone gets shot in the face. Now say you were to cut out all the frames between when the actor gets shot and it immediately picks up afterwards. It looks awkward and really poor. One of the more massive glitches is the constant glitching and hit detection. I can’t tell you how many times characters fell through things or appeared to be floating in air. Hell, a couple times I found characters floating in mid air or sinking into the ground. There were also times when you would swing your weapon at Jason or vice versa and no damage would occur. This is a serious issue that needs to be resolved. Actually seeing as it’s so bad, I’m surprised it was released in this state. One gamer commented that it feels like we paid full price for a BETA and in this sense, I kind of agree with him.
After about logging in around 12 hours of gameplay (note that I am saying “gameplay,” this does not factor in the time spent sitting around waiting for the game to connect), I played as Jason twice which totaled about 15 minutes. 15 minutes out of 12 hours. Are you fucking kidding me? You can set your preference to spawn as Jason more, but I found this didn’t help. There were even instances where one player would play as Jason several times during the duration where others wouldn’t play as him at all. I don’t know how this randomizer works, but it’s one of the many problems that needs to be fixed.
One of the most difficult things about reviewing the game is that you can’t review it if you can’t play it. Sure, I did get to play it, but I spent an equal amount of time, if not more, waiting for the game to find a session I could join or waiting around in lobbies. Not to mention that if you did find a game, staying connected to it was pure luck of its own. At first I thought that maybe it was my internet, so I scrambled around the house shutting off everything that was connected to the wi-fi and once I was in a lobby, it was there that I noticed the incredibly high ping all of the other players had and everyone was having the same connection troubles.
Jason’s biggest adversary wasn’t the players as the counselors or even Tommy Jarvis… it’s the unfortunate developer that miscalculated how many gamers wanted to play, thus not having enough dedicated servers. This plays into why for hours – or for some days – of not being able to find a session to join and play the game. Gun Media took to social media to comment that the players “Jasoned” the servers, meaning that we overwhelmed them and that’s why the game was laggy, slow or you couldn’t connect. I don’t think they meant to make it sound like they were laying blame on us, but they commented that they tripled the numbers of all the pre-orders and so on, only preparing the servers to handle about 30,000 players. When nearly 100,000 players logged on to play during launch, it crashed their servers. I realize they are a small, independent developer and weren’t expecting Call of Duty numbers here, but c’mon… it’s Friday the 13th! This game has been hyped since it was called Summer Camp and changing it to an official Friday the 13th game only made it more popular, so how could you not expect or prepare for this to be monstrous?
I really, really wanted to love this game, I really did. Friday the 13th is my favorite horror franchise and needless to say that Jason is my favorite slasher villain, but even as an extremely die hard Friday the 13th fan, I couldn’t love this game. This is a game only a mother could love. I’m more like, the second stepfather. Even though I didn’t love it, we connected a few times, had a bonding moment here and there and it’s alright. Friday the 13th feels like an unfinished game that was released. I get the feeling the developers felt as if they couldn’t keep on delaying it, having filled the gamer population full of promises and feared the worst if they did. Being launched with a handful of issues, like the glitches, incomplete animations and major, crippling problems like the server downtime, the terrible lag and ping coupled with repetitive gameplay, keeps it from being the perfect horror game it should have been. Nowadays, gamers unfortunately have shorter attention spans and unless it’s the most recent incarnation of Call of Duty, they won’t play long. Seeing as how there are only a handful of things to do, I get the feeling many will find it stale and unfortunately a majority of player will stop playing after several weeks. Maybe the developer should have focused on the single player mode and adding a story during all these delays.
I know I picked the game apart, but I did have a tremendous amount of fun with this game. It was so nostalgic to be running around Higgins Haven from Part 3, Packanack Lodge from Part 2 and even the original Camp Crystal Lake area itself from the first movie. It was almost like being there and it overjoyed both my film and gaming senses as well as it warmed my heart and that’s something this game has a lot of that people seem to be overlooking; heart’ Friday the 13th: The Game was created by fans who cared about this franchise and cared about bringing you the best experience possible. It’s like they wanted you to feel like a counselor at Crystal Lake and it does feel like you are there. It was a blast to creep around cabins looking for items and hoping that I wasn’t making too much noise and working with others to try and survive the night. After all, surviving together is how you make new friends! Seriously, I’m still playing and chatting with a few folks I met playing this game as well as playing with old friends for the first time in what seems like ages. Even when playing as Jason, you can feel everyone working against you, but there’s no greater feeling when you foil their plan which sends them scattering like cockroaches when you flick on the light. You slowly dwindle their numbers and they panic more, becoming more desperate, but it’s all in good fun. Being able to be Jason do some of his iconic kills felt like an accomplishment and playing as Tommy helping others to survive felt like a real heroic feat.
It’s been a real long time since I sat down and played a game online or even wanted to play a game online. Gun Media has captured the true essence of Friday the 13th in a game and I hope all of the bugs and other issues are fixed and maybe a few more skins, added levels and characters. Maybe we’ll see Crazy Ralph in there somewhere? Or how about Steven from Jason Goes to Hell or Tina from Part 7 and she could have telekinetic abilities! Well, let’s just stick with fixing the current issues first.