Friday the 13th Game Gets Film Franchise Right

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Friday the 13th is a multiplayer game released this year whose primary focus was on allowing you to play either as the infamous Jason Voorhees of the horror franchise or one of the oblivious and stereotypical counselors attending the cursed summer camp at Crystal Lake. The concept of having an asymmetrical, competitive and cooperative multiplayer game is perfect for the Friday the 13th franchise, so this type of game has been a long time coming.

This is not the first Friday the 13th game out there, since we also had one during the 80s, though that one was given primarily poor reviews. But this is the first proper, multiplayer focused Friday the 13th game released on consoles and it does a very good job with the idea of being the mother-loving undead slasher that tries to find and eliminate his victims in the most gruesome (and entertaining!) ways possible.

The game was developed via fan donations, with Backerkit and Kickstarter being the primary forces behind this game, making it the 124th most successful crowdfunded project of all time. Creating this type of game was something that a lot of people, both the public and the game developers, have been expecting for quite a while, so seeing this released after so many times is very refreshing, that’s for sure.

The game does come with some nice gameplay mechanics, and it manages to impress players with its outstanding focus on creating a deep, yet endlessly thrilling experience. When you play Friday the 13th, you always feel the adrenaline rushing through your veins, especially when the music kicks in and you hear the door being chopped into splinters. It’s one of the most challenging games that you can go through, especially since the sheer concept is focused on staying alive regardless of the situation.

Despite that, it is less of a survival game and more of a multiplayer puzzle-solver. Though you separate from your fellow counselors almost immediately at the start, the easiest way to make it out of the area is to do all you can to stay together and reach the end of the match while still being alive. It’s not going to be easy to get into the game, since the player base that is still online right now is pretty good at the game, and dedicated players have already reached the highest of levels. Most are not afraid to ditch you in the woods as a quick snack for the slasher while they make their run for the vehicles.

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The most interesting aspects of the game shine when you are alone in a cabin, searching and scrounging for any survival tools there can be, though at the start these pickings can be slim. Suddenly, the soundtrack changes and your character begins to panic. What’s worse is when you see other counselors springing out of cabin windows to escape a hulking mass of dead flesh topped off with either a hockey mask or an even more horrifying burlap sack. With all the players heading for the hills, you get caught in the crosshairs of the one player who just loves to search-and-destroy the others. With some luck, you may have a firecracker, or a pocketknife. If not, you are forced to button mash until Jason inevitably takes you apart one way or the other in a heartless cut scene which is aimed only to please the player controlling the killer. If you are a decent player, or better yet, Jason is a bit slower then you make your way to a vehicle and the exit. With some extra waiting and hiding you can call in the cops and make a mad-dash for their open arms (and free fire for Jason), or perhaps get reincarnated as the horror icon’s enemy, Tommy Jarvis.

What the developers got right is the rush and the challenging experience of going around the map as you try to get items and maybe win the game. Playing as Jason is a ton of fun, and each time you can find creative new ways to kill your opponents. Dead by Daylight is a great example of a similar game that does that, but knowing the Friday the 13th movies and Jason does add a lot more depth and fun to the game. Especially to horror-hounds and film freaks alike.

Keep in mind that aside from the overall unfriendly and unsupportive community, the game also has a steep learning curve. It can take a while to get going on here, even if the mechanics are rather easy to understand and a lot of fun as a whole. The game takes a surprising amount of strategy, or you will be forced to watch your character take a turn for the worse in the woods of Camp Crystal Lake.

But the problem here is the community. A lot of people are toxic here, and the community tends to leave newbies on their own. You won’t get any help in case you are unable to play the game at the level that your teammates want. This leads to a lot of trolling, which is not exactly the type of thing you want from a hugely anticipated game like this one is.

There is a decent amount of gore in the game, and the general feel is all-adult. But a lot of kids are still playing the game, which is rather bizarre and definitely not something that the developer anticipated. Though it is hardly a problem for them.
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The concept for this game isn’t exactly revolutionary, but is enjoyable. The idea of having a very powerful killer and people that work together to eliminate him is extremely interesting and fun. However, it’s the execution that lacks in Friday the 13th, but even so, the game is really good at what it does here. It manages to bring in that sense of urgency each time you play. You always want to reach the end of the game without dying, and that obviously brings in that own sense of rush and tons of challenging situations. It’s certainly one of the ways that Friday the 13th manages to stand out over Dead by Daylight. It is something that can happen in real life, and the struggle of staying alive is something you will love in the game.

There’s also that itch of having to play more and more times to get good. The gameplay is so rewarding and exciting if you can find the right partners. People don’t like the fact that teammates are not cooperating, so many times it’s not Jason against a team of potential victims, it’s everyone for himself. That can lead to many situations when the killer may win.
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The developers wanted to release this game fast, so when it did arrive on Steam and consoles, it had a ton of bugs. People dropped out of the game for no reason, some of them had VAC bans on Steam and so on. There was also a time when there were some game-breaking bugs, even though those were solved. Patch updates are prevalent and released regularly, though sometimes it appears it is like putting tape on the holes of the bottom of a sinking boat.

At the time of this writing, Friday the 13th still has a lot to prove, and with Halloween around the corner, there are some interesting avenues that can be taken. Yet there are still some things that the community would want to be solved, leaving the forums filled with players that feel like their complaints are falling on the dev’s deaf ears.

For example, the game is $40, or even more if you live in Europe. That makes it extremely expensive when its primary competitor is around $20 or less. Sure, the licensing costs may add to the overall price, but still, you have a similar concept at half the price with Dead by Daylight. And then there’s the fact that the developers are already pushing out DLC announcements when the game needs a lot of bug repairs and stability updates. That being said, players enjoy this game, and it would be a lot better if the developers would focus on the core gameplay and overall bug fixes instead of adding more paid content that could potentially bring in even more problems. At the end of the day, the game is a fun flashback to the 80s and a refreshing take on survival horror games. It’s been a while that we have seen a film-related game find its way to the top-spot, and a franchise such as Friday the 13th is the perfect pick for a slasher-centered game. What would save it and maybe even bring in more players would be a better focus on bug fixes and adding more free content. Whether that will arrive or not, we will have to wait and see.

 

Why War Movies Mean More Than Just Thrills

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This past year has seen the release of quite a few war films, namely several movies based during World War II. Robert Zemeckis’s Allied, Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge, and Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk are among the most recent big blockbuster productions which all hit the silver screen to critical acclaim. Dark Knight and Inception director Nolan, received recent praise for its dramatic and realistic portrayal of the retreat from French beaches after the British Expeditionary Force were beaten back by Adolf Hitler’s army. He also obtained universal acclaim due to his stylistic non-linear structure of the story and dramatic, somewhat terrifying, battle scenes although it only received a PG-13 rating. Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge also met with critical acclaim for the presentation of a Medal of Honor winning conscientious objector Desmond Doss, famous for his acts as a medic during his war service. Finally, the fictitious Allied brought Brad Pitt out as a Royal Canadian Airforce intelligence officer amidst Axis-occupied Morocco, partnered with a female French Resistance fighter played by Marion Cotillard.

Instead of focusing on the films, their actors, and the directors in their respected places you could think of the real events. The events portrayed in Dunkirk occurred in the spring and early summer of 1940 in France. For a soldier to be in the British Army at that point in time he had to be at least 18-years-old and born in the year 1922 or earlier. Today that boy would be 95-years-old. I’m sure there are plenty of 95-year-old (and older) men (and women) still walking around, but there aren’t many. There certainly aren’t many World War II vets on the streets anymore. According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, we are losing approximately 372 veterans per day and only 620,000 of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II were alive in 2017. Sure 620,000 is a whole lot, but the VA also estimates by 2025 about 57,000 will be left and if that continues on the same slope, the last WWII vet could die as early as 2038. If you can grasp the terror of this, then you are one of the very little amount of people who have given it a thought that we will be alive to see the Greatest Generation die out.

As a history buff, to hear that any veteran of any war die is emotional for me, with a grandfather that has recently passed fight in the miserable Pacific during World War II, seeing these numbers on the page hit home. That’s why when I see these movies, I tend not to see them as Saving Private Ryan wannabe’s, but instead updated versions on what we can show newer generations about history. The more we keep the stories alive, the more history will not be forgotten. If you asked a regular teenager on the street about World War II, chances are he will know facts only in movies, TV, and videogames. If that is how history will be presented, then we need to keep churning these out to give more views on our history. Though we are inching towards the centennial of the final year of World War One, the last veterans of that war died about 7-years ago. The fact that we have history walking on our streets unnoticed at almost all times becomes a troubling thought for me personally. Kids who grow up and never very much care, let alone ask about what their grandparents did during the war is a slap in the face to those who aim to preserve their historical accomplishments.

With the film Dunkirk now awaiting home-media release, the next WWII blockbuster is up-for-grabs. A thousand stories erupt out of wartime, so fresh source material is abundant. With the dwindling amount of veterans and their depletion a looming reality, the time to bring their stories to the screen seem more important now than ever. That being said, every war should have updated films and media to further give our new and future generations a creative take on our veterans’ histories.

King Clown is Back in Business!

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Remakes are usually discarded long before they release out into theatres. Audiences complain that directors will stray too far from their predecessor’s path and venture into unfamiliar territory turning cult classics into box-office bombs. This isn’t the case for Andy Muschietti’s It, inspired by the brutal horror novel by Stephen King. To call this version a “remake” wouldn’t be acceptable, it would be more correct to call it an adaptation of the novel itself and not the mini-series directed by Tommy Lee Wallace in 1990 starring the amazing English actor Tim Curry in the titular role. Though the 1990 version hit the small screen only, it became a cult classic and sparked a whole new generation of kids with coulrophobia (fear of clowns).

From the start of the new adaptation, it is apparent that the dark and ominous Derry, Maine will be scarier than the killer clown himself. Each home equipped with dark hallways and flooded cellars, libraries with horrifying basements, woods with large sewer pipes to get lost in, even the local fluorescent-lit drug store is run by a possible pedophile. Though the scariest character is introduced quite quickly, the real spotlight goes to the kids who play the main roles. The troubled stuttering young Bill, recently traumatized over the loss of his younger brother, (a scene which made the movie show it wasn’t here to play games) the fast-talking hypochondriac attached to his mothers’ hip, the foul-mouthed wisecracking comedian, and the somewhat silent but logical Jew stricken with OCD. These misfits somehow find themselves befriending a lonely and overweight new kid on the block, an orphaned African-American who is the target of local bullies, and a smart, fire-haired girl who is also an easy target to the local bullies. Each and every character seem to share the spotlight harmoniously and the sense of real relationships between them can be sensed through the screen. The addition of real-life problems such as puberty and humiliation makes you connect on a personal level. That is why this horror film fell short of hitting the mark of absolutely terrifying.

Though the casting of Swedish actor Bill Skarsgård is on point, the real chink in It’s shining new armor is the use of CGI. Sure, CGI allows the clown to roll out of a refrigerator and assemble himself like a Rubik’s Cube but scenes where his jaws open up are less scary and more just creepy. The real lasting effects from It lies in Skarsgård’s performance, with his odd and unknown accent as Pennywise The Dancing Clown, the distance between Tim Curry’s version is astronomical. This fresh new character is soft spoken and almost childlike with words, rather than the boisterous and manic 1990 version. While the obvious influence of clowns gave birth to Tim Curry’s beautiful performance, Skarsgård’s lingers more on the fact that this isn’t a clown at all, it’s just wearing that as a skin. Some of the most uneasy moments were seeing It’s face change and distort from manic laughter into downright predatory instinct. The only downside being the CGI getting in the way of the actor’s performance showing this.

With the addition of a bunch of jump-scares turning the two-hour film into a horror delight, the film also added a bit of the unexpected: comedy. The talkative hypochondriac takes the cake for performances, with brash quips to contrast the curse-laden comic, played by Jack Dylan Grazer and Finn Wolfhard respectively. In fact, the use of curses adds a huge comedic effect to the whole film and arguably takes away from the terror (such as the scene with Eddie breaking his arm while It transforms before the group), but adds the realism we all went through at 13. The lost and lonely Beverly Marsh played by Sophia Lillis breaks off as a story of her own, with a sexual-abusive father and attempts by bullies to make her life horrible. The newcomer shines as a pubescent 13-year-old trapped in a love triangle with leader of the Loser’s Club, Bill Denbrough played by Jaeden Lieberher and the constantly bullied overweight member of the club Ben Hanscom played by Jeremy Ray Taylor. The far more serious (for good reason), orphaned Mike Hanlon played by Chosen Jacobs shows that you don’t need to be an outcast to be in the club, just different. Finally, the quiet and supportive Jewish germaphobe struggling to get through his Bar Mitzvah, also struggles with possibly one of the most horrifying manifestations of It in the movie. They all shine in their own ways and each with a distinct attitude that matches their character to a T.

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The original enemy of the gang, sociopathic Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton), is every kid’s nightmare at school. He is albeit a bit less sociopathic and troubled than his literary counterpart, though his performance is not marred by this fact. His minions, which were given much more screen time than those in the made-for-TV version, made good adversaries to the kids while It wasn’t lurking around. The most noticeable thing, and by far the best part about this movie, is the lack of adults. Though adults appear in the movie, they are often shown in a negative and small way. Almost every adult portrayed in the film brings with them a negative connotation or are bringing the children down in some way. This gives the kids the role of heroes and shows them taking control of the situation with no interference by the adults of the town, which are oddly nowhere to be seen in most scenes.

Though It was brought down by the CGI effect laden scenes, that no doubt still horrified me briefly, the film is a classic. The performances given by the actors and Skarsgård were phenomenal in their own ways and not once clashed with each other on the screen. With many new additions from the written work that made its way into this film and not the 1990 version, it will be interesting to see what will be added and expanded upon in the upcoming sequel. Hopefully, the killer clown will make an even more disturbing return and not brought down by quick special effects making the clown look more of a silly cartoon than a terrifying alien. Despite, the one small flaw that I found watching this blockbuster, I can truly say that it was well worth the wait and I am floating for any and all announcements regarding its successor in the series “It: Chapter Two”.

 

 

Image credits: 1 – CNET 2 – PopSugar

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