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The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena Initial Impressions

August 2, 2009

Riddick

The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena comes with two games in one package. First of all there is a graphically updated version of The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay (Originally on the Xbox) and second of all there is The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena (If I have to write The Chronicles of Riddick one more time…). Butcher Bay was received very well but I had never played it so I started with it.

Both the original Butcher Bay and the remake were developed by Starbreeze Studios (The Darkness) and Tigon Studios (Vin Diesels own company). It wasn’t until playing The Darkness that I had even heard of Starbreeze though and after playing this I know to expect top quality games coming from them in the future. I never bought this on release because I didn’t think it would be worth the full £40 and managed to get if for £16. Yes, I’m happy that I got a good deal but this would have definitely been worth full price.

So far Butcher Bay has been really immersive. It feels like you are moving a person, there is weight to the movement. You can also see your entire body when moving and/or fighting. Regular readers will know that I love being able to see your body in games because it really adds to the immersion. When using your fist or melee weapons you will see your arms move across the screen putting somebody through a lot of main and once again this adds to the immersion of the game. I do wish that the entire game was in first person though, there a few bits where it changes to third person (climbing, shimmying etc) and it would work really well if it stayed in first person. It would have been good if the cutscenes were in first person too. However, this is only a minor complaint and the game does remain very immersive.

Combat wise the game is very good, like I’ve already mentioned using melee attacks look very impressive. They can often be useful for single enemies but aren’t the best for groups, unless the groups don’t have guns. The stealth attacks from behind look very cool and are also very useful for quickly taking out enemies. The stealth is very rewarding and is you are willing to use it; it is the most satisfying option. However you can stick to blasting people with guns all you like. The shooting is solid and the assisted aim allows you to target most things pretty easily. That doesn’t stop the game from being bastardly hard sometimes though. There is a bit I’m on right now where I need to run through a big bunch of enemies, all equipped with guns, and all I have is a knuckle duster, a screw driver and a club. It’s tough but I’ll get it done. The boss I fought was quite tough as well, not impossible but it put up a fight.

I really like the level design too. Each of the areas I have been to so far have been relatively open and have allowing a bit of exploring to be done. There have been some interesting characters to talk to and receive side quests from too which will add a bit more to the game.

Graphically the game is amazing. Judging from screenshots of the original Butcher Bay this is a massive improvement. Character models and environments all look excellent. The lighting is fantastic too.

Butcher Bay is filled with lots of things that make it different from most other First Person Shooters. As I’ve already mentioned there is the stealth and open areas but there are also a lot more. You can use money to buy new items such as weapons or collectables. You can talk with most characters and you are often given dialogue choices where you choose what to say. The atmosphere is also very good.

So far I am very impressed with Butcher Bay and if this level of quality maintains throughout the rest of the game I will be even more impressed. The fact that I still have Dark Athena to keep me going after Butcher Bay and a multiplayer mode too is suggesting that I’ll be playing for a while too.

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