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Friday the 13th PC Review

Sometimes, you have to look past a games initial faults to find the true value underneath. Now, let’s get this out of the way, I’m an unabashed Friday the 13th super fan. I grew up in the 1980s with these movies. I remember being at Plains Video in Brisbane, or other various video stores in tiny towns I lived in prior to that in the early 80s, and seeing a new chapter was about to hit. I’d fawn over the video preview cover, wondering just *how* the hell Jason Voorhees was coming back this time!

So, with eagerness I’ve been following the production of Friday the 13th, by Developer IllFonic, distributed by Gun Media and devoured by yours truly on the day of release… ok two days after release thanks to server issues which we’ll get into soon.

Gameplay:

So, how’s it play then? Pretty damn well. I’ve been playing on the PC, the first and foremost version to get the patches, to get things improved and I’m aware PS4 and Xbox One are lagging behind in this area. But, slowly they’re being brought up to speed and hopefully they’ll experience the fun I’m having.

Initially, you get to choose your spawning preference, do you want to be Jason, a Camp Counselor, or do you have no particular preference? From there, it’s a random assignment. There’s no “I MUST be Jason!” option, and this loans to a sense of fairness, with everyone essentially getting a turn eventually, as quite frankly, playing as Jason is awesome!

IllFonic have gone to the extent of ‘explaining’ Jason in a way Platinum Dunes with their questionable remake never could, while that movie over-explained Jason, giving him an illogical tunnel network around Crystal Lake, IllFonic turn Jason into a supernatural entity, able to teleport around the map with one ability, able to barrel around like the invisible demonic forest presence in Evil Dead, and able to take endless amounts of punishment unless you’re able to find out the secret method to killing our Hockey Masked maniac. Yes, Jason can be ‘killed’, but it takes a bit of effort, it’s dangerous and it really, really feels rewarding once you’ve done it. It also takes the presence of one Tommy Jarvis, Friday the 13th stalwart and personal nemesis to Mr Voorhees.

As you traipse around the map, you’ll look for the counselors, you’ll see sonar blips indicating they’re around, making noise. When they get closer, you’ll see red outlines of them through the scenery. When they enter a house or cabin, the whole thing will glow red allowing you to track them and put them to their fates. And boy, is that not glorious to watch. IllFonic recruited the best Jason Voorhees in history, Kane Hodder, to come in and motion capture each kill, from the classic head crush, to the legendary sleeping bag tree smash through to the brilliant decapitating head punch, every single kill is utterly thrilling to watch and satisfying in a way not many games manage to be.

The moment you manage to finally kill a counselor, tracking them down, grabbing them and then selecting from your four pre-set kill patterns, you’ll giggle in glee like I did as you watch Jason go to town on them. It never gets old. Seriously. Once they’re all dead, Jason wins the round, gaining XP to spend on new abilities. As your XP increases, you also unlock new Jason ‘models’, allowing you to play as various versions from parts 1 through to the remake, as well as a new version designed by legendary horror icon Tom Savini! Now just give me Jason X goddamn it!

At this point, there’s three maps and more may be coming, but these three maps are huge, offering a real feel of isolation, panic and a really eerie feeling to them. I cannot stress enough, that this is a fun game to play, but you need to work as a team or you’ll be turned into Counselor puree in no time flat by a decent Jason.

Playing as a Counselor is just fantastic fun. You can run from cabin to cabin looking for items to use, weapons to fend off Jason with, looking for a fuse to fix the phonebooth to call the cops with. One can also escape if they repair the car or boat in time, but remember, don’t run into Jason on the way out… it’s like a Friday the 13th movie come to life. You’ll make decisions, you’ll make some REALLY stupid decisions! You know those times you chastise someone in a movie for running the wrong way, staying in a room too long, hiding under a bed when they shouldn’t, hiding in a closet when there was somewhere better to go… or running out of breath before getting killed?

That’s you. Every. Single. Time.

Gameplay however, is hampered quite a bit by connectivity issues, especially on consoles. Dropping out during games, lag that allows people to glitch, simply not being able to connect for extended periods, this can drive you mad, because it’s *really* harming a damn good game to the point of frustration. It’s such a great experience, in fact it may very well BE the best movie to game experience released, but these network issues are plaguing it incessantly and need to be fixed! Thankfully, Illfonic have been on the ball, rushing out two patches for the PC so far since launch under a week ago and pushing out console patches, this has allegedly been delayed on Xbox One  due in part to Microsoft policy on patches but it’ll get there.

Controls:

The controls could be a little more fluid to be honest. They’re a bit stiff with the counselors, when they should be nimble and loose. Jason controls like a tank, as he should, but the counselors feel like they a bit too weighted. I’d love a refinement to their movement allowing you to essentially climb any object, to not have to run around fences to get over them, that’s a real bugbear (am I wrong? Have I just not figured out how to jump them?) but it’s no deal breaker. Interaction with objects is generally flued, use the action button do ‘do’ and ‘interact’, then there’s a simple few buttons such as using inventory options, attack, run and the like. These are all fairly intuitive, but again, the controls need to feel more fluid when you’re using a counselor. Jason is perfect honestly, he feels like a giant lumbering beast, the asymmetrical nature of this game makes up for any shortcomings with him, you’re a demigod of power essentially, but when you’re using a counselor and you have to struggle to line your view up with a window to jump through at times, it gets a little old… overall, controls are good, but could be better. Considering they’re still improving the game, I can see this happening.

Sound: Freakin’ AMAZING. From the 80s synth rock intro, to the cheesy dialogue “Oh my GOD is THAT a DEAD BODY?”, through to the CH CH CH AH AH AH while roaming around and Jason comes near you, this game *nails* every single aspect that makes Friday the 13th appealing. It’s brilliantly done, emphasising every spooky aspect, every fun moment and the sharp tones that rise and fall as Jason suddenly comes near, are exemplary. Well goddamn done Illfonic, it’s a transcendental experience just for the sound alone!

Graphics:

Such a mixed bag this one. The scenery, it’s subpar, there’s no two ways about it. Yet you’ll still come across the occasional model that impresses you? Jason’s hut where his mother’s head and her sweater lay, look fantastic. Jason himself, the various models, look awesome! The Camp Counselors, they look stylised and decent in a cartoon sense, they’re not going for realism here after all. But there’s a ‘cheap’ feel to the graphics that can’t be denied, like it needs another pass for qualities sake. Someone needs to refine it a little more. Jason looks freakin’ outstanding IllFonic, now, what about the rest, honestly! But it’s not enough to turn you off, as the gameplay more than makes up for what’s lacking here.

Value:

This is a tough call. Honestly. At the moment, it comes in around 53 Australian on Steam (39.99 US). There’s not a lot of content, but more content will allegedly come. More clothing, more Jason models (supposedly), even more maps, more kills and the such. While this is fantastic, those who want more from the game may be inclined to wait for this to come, or may want to wait for a price drop. Those like me, those slasher movie fans, those gore hounds, those Jason Voorhees fans, won’t regret diving in, it’s a fun time if you put up with the issues that present themselves and you understand these are being sorted out. However, this isn’t to forget these issues exist, these are present, existing issues and will be treated as such.

Overall:

In the end, I really have to give it to IllFonic, a stumble at launch has still let them release a game which despite its flaws, besides some glaring flaws, is still so much fun. It’s transcended the movie/game tie-in curse and delivered such a fun experience. Grab some mates, grab a pizza or two and create your own Friday the 13th experience. I’ve already done this with some of my friends and I’m telling you, you’ll find yourself laughing your ass off so much you won’t regret it. Have fun! And remember… when you ch ch ch ah ah ah, everyone wins! Or dies painfully…

Pro’s:

  • So much fun!
  • Playing as Jason FEELS like you’re Jason!
  • The kills never get tiring!
  • Fantastic motion capture for Jason Voorhees himself.
  • Multiple Jason styles means variances in gameplay.
  • The most authentic use of a movie license for a game possible.
  • Great social fun!

Cons:

  • Limited content at launch.
  • Server issues are frustrating.
  • Camp counselor motion capture is sometimes questionable.
  • Needs more maps! Hurry up IllFonic!
  • Needs more ways to kill Jason! C’mon IllFonic!
  • Controls for counselors are a bit off, need work.
  • Graphics need some work.

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