Review: Friday The 13th: The Game

There has been a nearly two year build-up of excitement for Gun Media's Friday The 13th: The Game. We have covered the game since it was known as Summer Camp Vol. 1 and when it was announced that Sean Cunningham granted the Friday The 13th license to Gun Media to make their vision an official franchise game, everyone in the community and on our website was very excited. During the process of the game production, fans were given unprecedented access to the creation of the game by being able to watch the motion capture process with Kane Hodder live on Periscope along with some fun progress videos on Youtube.

What has been promised since day one is that Gun Media would deliver an exciting and tense game that would captivate die-hard fans of the franchise with very specific details from the films along with killer designs of the various Jason characters from the franchise as well as some very creative deaths. In all, Friday The 13th: The Game was sold on the promise of being an homage of the franchise we all grew up watching. Well, lets see if they delivered.

Since I am not a die-hard gamer, this review will not be as technical as some other sites will provide, but I will talk about the look and feel of the maps as well as the game-play of the characters and the good and bad aspects found in my experience of playing online the first weekend of the game's release.

The Maps
For me, one of the most exciting aspects of this game was having the ability to walk around the original filming locations of the first three films. This held especially true for the Packanack Lodge scenes from Friday The 13th Part 2 as none of the cabins or landmarks exist anymore for fans to visit. The same holds true for the Higgins Haven house from Friday The 13th Part 3 as most everyone is aware that it burned down many years ago. Even though most everything seen in the original 1980 film still exists, it is great to be able to walk around Camp Crystal Lake (Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco in real life) without worrying about being chased off by security or paying $100 a ticket with a couple weeks notice.

The designs of the maps are flawless. There are so many details put into the three maps I often found myself exploring the buildings and landmarks more than actually worrying about Jason killing me. In the Camp Crystal Lake map, one thing really struck me, and I have no idea why, but on the shore there is a drain pipe that runs into the lake. This pipe can be seen in the original film when Ned is by himself walking along the lake and sees Mrs. Voorhees at the entrance of one of the cabins. Little things like this made me smile throughout the game-play. Seeing Alice's yellow rain jacket hanging in the main cabin was a delight as well.

Being able to go inside the barn from Part 3 was a real treat and to just remember all of the great scenes that happened there. I really wanted to hang Jason from the loft too! It's a shame that wasn't in the cards. One of the coolest parts of the maps was being able to explore the Packanack lodge main building extensively. I wasn't even aware there was a tiny little walkout deck on the second floor until I was in the game. That was neat little piece of information to find out!

In all of the maps, I truly wanted to just hangout and enjoy the surroundings and often hoped Jason would never find me and that time would never run out.

If you are a fan of the films at all, merely being in the game should make you extremely happy and take you back to watching the films for the first time all over again.

The Music
As we all know, the music is one of most important aspects of the earlier films as composer Harry Manfredini brought a real sense of tension and despair to the franchise. His music really was another character, and one that took the place of the killer when he (or she) was not on-screen. As the films furthered in the franchise, Harry's music changed more towards an action orientated sound which lost some of the original tone of the films. Although I love Harry, I was afraid his new score for the game would mimic his more recent efforts from Jason X and some parts of Jason Goes To Hell, which are not very strong compared to other films in the franchise. Thankfully, he managed to recapture a lot of the magic of his earlier work and blended it together with some of the action scores pieces from Jason Lives and Jason Goes To Hell.

During the opening of a match there is a real sense of dread created by the use of themes from his earlier scores. Playing as a counselor, there was real moments of fear I encountered while locking myself in a cabin when Jason was nearby and not only hearing the Ki-ki-ki-ma-ma-ma, but hearing those strings play high. I really enjoyed the overall sound design of the music and I think Harry did an awesome job of bringing his iconic score to life in a digital reality.

When there is the 2 minute warning to the match ending, the score really kicks up a notch and that is when the action tone of Manfredini's score becomes very prominent. This fast paced music made me very tense and fearful that Jason was even closer to killing me. In fact, this music actually caused me to make decisions that I wouldn't normally make while trying to wait out Jason, like exit the cabin I was in to see if Jason was nearby, which got me killed!

Overall, the music was a home run and a nice updated companion to Harry's other scores in the franchise and a perfect tone-setter for the game.

Playing As The Counselors
I couldn't figure out what I enjoyed playing more as, the counselors or Jason. So much fun was had as a counselor, placing traps for Jason, working with other players to trick him into thinking you were in one cabin when you were in another. I also enjoyed having all of us gang up on the hockey masked killer and try and take him down. It never worked of course, but it was damn fun to try. When playing as a counselor it was terrifying to be standing next to someone and see Jason appear out of nowhere to murder them. I would run like hell and hope to get to a cabin before he caught up to me.

One of the things that was difficult playing as these various camp characters, however, was that some were faster than others, which was kind of disappointing when you are picked at random to be them. If you spawned as the "nerd" girl you had almost no chance to run away from Jason, and if the other counselors didn't try to defend you against Jason, you were pretty much toast unless you just hid away from the rest of the group and hoped Jason never found you.

That is a minor complaint, and didn't always deter from my excitement of the game. In the end, trying to outwit, or outlast, Jason was a huge amount of fun and is something I will enjoy doing for many more outings in the game.

Playing As Jason Voorhees
This was to be the culmination of many years of fandom for yours truly. I think we all have wanted to play Jason at some point, growing up and watching the films as they were released, and not all of us are talented cosplayers. There is so much fun to be had being a diabolical killer. For my perspective, the actual killing of counselors was not the payoff, it was stalking and scaring the hell out of them and making them fear for their life. There was one instance where I cut the power and bunch of the counselors were all huddled in one cabin. I could hear the players on their mics talking to each other in real terror and while doing so I would take the machete and break out the windows. These players were so terrified as I walked around to each window and broke them out that I really felt a sense of gratification. I was Jason in the films!

Each version of Jason has their strengths as Part 6 Jason could regenerate his speed morph to locations faster than Part 3 Voorhees. Part 6 Jason was pretty slow walker, but Part 3 Jason had some quicks when running after a would-be victim. I only played as Part 7 Jason once, and it was fun, but I didn't have enough time to test him out as the other two versions of the character.

Each goalie masked killer brought their own sinister trademark of stalking and killing to the table. The designs were flawless and looked absolutely like what fans have seen in the films. Kudos to Illfonic for bringing these screen accurate designs to life!

Gameplay and Conclusion
As stated earlier, I am not a huge gamer, so I will not be able to notice or point out good or bad ultra technical points in this or any game, but I can see when something is or is not working and here is what I experienced; lots of fun, but many glitches for a fully released game.

While there is a lot of welcome attention to details for the franchise of films, Friday the 13th: The Game is not a polished effort to this point. In fact, I found the first weekend of play quite buggy. The collision detection is pretty bad. There were points during matches that characters were hovering in the air, popping through walls, and corpses still moving in strange ways after Jason had already killed them.

Although the graphics were quite good for the most part, there are scenes with the characters that were quite laughable, especially in the opening of a match with the same shot of the preppy teen’s ridiculous face screaming in terror. It looks wretched and unfinished and I laughed every time, but I thought that should probably be cleaned up at some point.

The last and most obvious glitch was the online play in general that everyone has already talked about over the past couple of days. Plainly put, Gun Media was not ready for the shear number of people that were ready to jump on and start playing this game and it melted their servers. This fact really brought a lot of negative buzz to the game, but I do think it is unfair to judge the game solely on the server issues. Yes, the current version of the game only allows for online play, so having servers that can maintain the influx of play on the Internet is essential. But I do think after a few patch updates (which Gun Media and Illfonic are rolling out this week) the game can reach it's full potential and with the upcoming single player option being released this summer, Friday The 13th: The Game will be fully realized for gamers abroad.

Friday The 13th: The Game is an extraordinary homage to the franchise. It is a game that myself and a legion of fans never ever thought would happen. This is a beautiful digital archive of shooting locations and nostalgia for fans of Friday The 13th that allows franchise followers around the globe to be a true part of the films in a way they thought would never be possible. I hope that once the server issues and programming glitches are fixed that not only franchise fans, but overall video game fans will appreciate what Gun Media has brought the table and Friday The 13th: The Game will be enjoyed for years to come.
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