Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Friday the 13th THE GAME

This Memorial Day weekend there was a massacre, although you won’t read about it from any major news outlet.  Multiple bodies lay strewn across the digital frontier, many victims were horrifically claimed as Friday the 13th the video game was finally unleashed on consoles everywhere.  The bytes will drip with blood!   It brings back memories of playing Splatterhouse in the Hills department store lobby, drop kicking the guts out of demon monsters as an over powered Uber Jason man-beast with machete in hand.  I can still smell the stale 400 year old popcorn they were peddling there.  

Slashers for the most part have had an anemic presence in video games, largely as support characters in survival horror games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill.  There was a purely slasher focused game called Camp Fire in gestation a few years back, but the publisher got cold feet and over time it seemed like the concepts driving that game was turned into Dead by Daylight.  

According to my brother Dead by Daylight is actually a pretty fun game (it definitely looks it), it has already had a long run on PC and is coming for consoles next month (June 20th) so you know if anything is will be polished.  You can play Michael Myers in that game which immediately sold me on it, but let’s talk about the new Friday the 13th video game experience  for a moment.

To be honest I kind of forgot the game was coming out.  I never trust video game release dates, and this was from a kick starter campaign, so I didn’t get the pain and frustration people were going through waiting for the game to come out.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the download code for the game come by email this past weekend, I had ordered a physical copy of the game and that’s all I was expecting.  It took a long time to get into my first game, about a 20 minute wait, and then it was apparent that some aspects of the game needed some polish when I finally was able to get into a game lobby.  I saw players float in space, blink in and out of frame, and other glitches that would have probably embarrassed coders from a major studio.  However the sheer amount of adrenaline pumping FUN to be had in this game far out-shadows any flaws on release, issues that I am sure will get patched as the game goes on. 

The game perfectly encapsulates the feel of being in a Friday the 13th movie, and kind of reminded me of the old NES version of Friday the 13th.  There is definitely an emphasis on exploring as many cabins as possible to locate items to defend yourself against Jason and possibly escape the terror of the night, kind of like the old game where you spent all your time wandering the camp looking for items and protecting children before Jason callously massacres everyone.  The new game starts with a cut scene of Jason attacking campers, and then it spawns the camp counselors randomly on any one of three maps directly from Friday the 13th, Friday the 13th part 2, or Friday the 13th part 3.  It filled my heart with joy to see Higgins Haven in there as well as the main cabin from part 2.  As the round progresses counselors can call the police, Tommy Jarvis, or just wait out the clock in order to escape Jason.  Whoever is lucky enough to play Jason gets more abilities and senses as the round progresses, Jason can transport around the map instantly, his senses are greatly amplified and hone in on sound and the counselors fear factor.  If a counselor is terrified the easier it is for Jason to locate him or her. 
The simple game mechanics are great and lead to some amazing moments in game for me.  One play through I was able to get in a car with someone.  As we drove around the map Jason actively chased us, until someone else tried to get in the car with us.  Unfortunately for him, it was a two-seater, so Jason stopped to kill that guy and we took off laughing into the night.  Another play through I was the “final girl”, last surviving counselor, and I made it into Jason’s shack.  I put on his mother’s sweater and when Jason came in I attacked and stunned him with a machete.  I ran outside the shack and he chased me for a while, eventually catching up to my girl to choke her to death, but what a great final girl moment.  There was one game where Jason was right on my heels when I ran to the police, when I survived I was greeted by a cacophony of greetings and sighs of relief from other players saying they were watching me game and “praying for me” to escape.  It really does get you tied up in trying to escape and helping other players (or screwing them when Jason shows up).  I’ve developed a strategy where I stick close to another player, and then when Jason chases us I throw him or her to the wolves, hitting them or slowing them down so I can make it away.  I’ve seen other players do this too haha! 

I believe over the weekend I’ve played about 20 games and have been Jason for 3 of them.  My first two outings as Jason were complete successes.  I manage to kill all the counselors but that pesky Tommy Jarvis made it through.  I think my favorite Jason kill so far was where he took his victim (in this case the yuppie kid) and bent his arms back behind a tree until they snapped off.  I much prefer to play Jason but playing as the counselor is fun as hell too.  I’ve learned quickly to barricade every door and check every cabin I am in for everything.  Communication is key, I was able to escape via car twice just by talking it through with other players, then when I drove the car someone else gave me directions off the map.  Team work really does help in this game, but beware the jabber jaws….Jason can hear you when he is close.

The soundtrack for the game was ripped straight from the movie; the musical cues are spot on.  You will actually feel your blood pressure rise when you hear the famous “ki ki ki….ma ma ma” signaling Jason is close by.  Listening to other players freak out as Jason stalks them is fun as well; even spectating the game after death is fun and worthwhile.  You never know what great off the cuff moment is going to happen; it’s like watching the movies.  And there is plenty of bonus content and Easter Eggs to sniff through for long time fans of the series.  You can play as pretty much any Jason from the movies, they even have facial models for the entries where you don’t see Jason’s face.  Tom Savini designed a unique demon Jason for the game although I have not seen it yet.  It really is a must have for any fan of the franchise.

I really hope they add some new moves for Jason to do, like the ability to place bodies after killing them would add a whole new awesome factor to the gameplay, or if he could throw bodies through windows (like he does in the movies) to raise the counselor fear level.  As it is I am happy with the product and looking forward to future patching and DLC.  My name is CPLCHUD on PS4 if anyone wants to add me.