Chronicles of Riddick, The: Escape from Butcher Bay
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9  |  Don't Miss a Trip to Butcher Bay
Ash216 , 4/8/2005 12:00:45 PM

When the movie Pitch Black came out several years ago, it didn’t do much commercially, but it generated a fairly respectable cult following in sci-fi circles. I was one of those who enjoyed the movie, while recognizing that it is fairly derivitave of many other sci-fi horror movies(it would be hard not to recognize it). I doubt that anyone was really expecting a lasting franchise out of it. But then one thing led to another and Vin Diesel became a movie star and BAM.....franchise. Now there are many Riddick movies in the works, as well as video games.

Now I know what you are thinking. Video game made from a movie franchise of questionable popularity....can’t be too promising. After all, games made from great movies generally suck balls so how good could this be?? I am happy to report that this game breaks the “crappy game built to cash in on the flavor of the month movie license” mold. This game features very solid gameplay, an interesting and engaging story, outstanding sound and is very nice to look at. Now for some details:

Concept/Story:

The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay features a pretty straightforward story. Riddick is an escaped convict who is delivered by the bounty hunter Johns, to the tough as nails double max prison....Butcher Bay. This place is supposed to be the toughest prison in the galaxy, and no man has ever escaped. The plot flows smoothly, the story is engaging and Riddick is a strangely compelling character. The only downside is that there is a subplot where riddick releases some form of monster-creatures that seems tacked on, and is VERY derivitave of Halo. It doesn’t really have a purpose and it doesn’t add to the game. It doesn’t take away from the game either, it is just kind of there. Otherwise, the overall escape from prison plotline is much more interesting than you might think.

Gameplay:

This is one of the best first person action/shooter games that I have ever played. There is a fair amount of hand to hand combat where you use nothing but your fists or a knife. This is well executed and is very entertaining. Throughout the course of the game you will wield small variety of weapons that are common in a shooter....pistol, shotgun, assault rifle and minigun. The catch is that in this world, most of the guns are DNA coded, so if your DNA is not in in the system, you will get shocked if you pick up a weapon. There are obviously ways around this that you will have to figure out. There is no heads up display, which helps to immerse you in the game. Your health is indicated by blocks along the top of the screen. When you take damage, your health meter appears. That is it. Your the amount of rounds remaining in your clip appears on the weapon itself. The game mixes it up the combat nicely, from melee combat to all out gun battles. In the first half of the game, Riddick will acquire his characteristic “eyeshine”. If you have seen the movie, will know means that he can see in the dark. After receiveing this, you can toggle on and off the shine to see in the dark. It is a very useful tool. Enemy AI is good enough so they don’t just stand there and wait to be shot. There is a great bit at the end that I won’t spoil which is very entertaining. Med stations are scattered throughout the game in appropriate intervals. Enough to survive, but there was once or twice where i was running through rooms with one block of health left praying for a med station. That adds to the overal tension of the game. The game is very tense, you actually feel like hundreds of nasty guards are one step behind you. One note on stealth: I hate stealth in action games. I HATE IT. I am very happy to report that you can complete this entire game without using stealth at all. There is a nice balance of all out running through halls with guys shooting at you from every which way, and more deliberate paced scenes where riddick is biding his time until it is time to get violent.

Presentation:

The soundtrack if very well done. Appropriately energetic during battles or tense moments, and quiet when Riddick is slinking through hallways. Sound effects are also excellent. Gunshots are crisp and loud and the sound of a Riddick’s shiv slicing open a belly is grim. The track is not 5.1(I don’t think), but it sounded just great through my speakers. The voice acting is excellent. Diesel, like him or hate him, is a charismatic lead and the supporting voice work is good. The appearance of the game is top notch. While the prison environments were probably not too taxing on the hardware, everything looks great. The Eyeshine effect is also very well done. There are also lots of great touches and excellent attention to detail. For example, when you shoot out the wall, the bullet holes will start out white hot, and they will gradually darken as they cool. Very nice touch.

Conclusion:

I found this game to be highly entertaining and a worthy addition to any Xbox collection. The game plays fairly short, about 9 or 10 hours. I would have liked the game to last longer, but it was great while it lasted. I played through the game on the normal difficulty setting without much trouble. This generally indicates that a game is pretty easy. Some will find this a drawback, I do not.(there are harder difficulty settings if you are not challanged on Normal) I thoroughly enjoyed this game and would recommend it to anyone, even if you have never seen any of the movies and care nothing for the Riddick character...The game stands on its own. I give Riddick a 9 out of 10.

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