The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena Review

August 13, 2009

 Dark Athena Logo

Developer: Starbreeze Studios/Tigon Studios (Co-developed)
Publisher: Atari
Platform: PlayStation 3 (Version Played), Xbox 360
Genre: First Person Shooter, Stealth
Players: 1 – 12
Release Date: 24th April 2009 (EU)

Starbreeze deserve a lot of credit for The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena for many reasons. First of all they managed to make a good game but they also deserve credit for making a good game based on a film that is actually better than the film itself. The fact that Riddick contains two games (Escape from Butcher Bay and Assault on Dark Athena) gives Starbreeze even more credit and just makes the game even better than before!

I’ll start off talking about Butcher Bay. This was originally released on the Xbox and PC back in 2004 so you may have played it before. This version is the basically the same but with improved graphics up to the same quality of Dark Athena and some tweaks to certain parts of the game (Improved A.I and increased difficulty). This was my first time playing so it was a completely new experience to me. I thought it was amazing though in nearly every aspect.

The combat works really well, particularly at close quarters and when using stealth. The melee weapons are very useful and what Butcher Bay is primarily based upon. Sneaking around, getting close and stabbing someone in the back of the head is not only extremely rewarding but also much more enjoyable than the “run n’ gun” option. Though it’s not really “run n’ gun” because most of the time you will be underequipped and not have access to a gun so it makes a lot more sense for you to try and be stealthy. Even when you do have guns it’s still better to try and sneak about. Though obviously some parts will require you to blast everyone in sight. Fortunately though, the shooting is also very good and there are some good fights with guns heavily involved.

The level design is also fantastic. Some parts of the game you will be exploring the prison areas of Butcher Bay where you will need to try and escape by getting help from various other prisoners. There are also plenty of side quests in these areas that you can try and do. These parts make a change from the rest of the game which is more combat focused and, while these areas still contain combat, exploring and talking to people is fun too. These areas have a lot of security and the guards don’t let you do much which adds an oppressive atmosphere to the game.

The pace in Butcher Bay is amazing and always keeps you ready for action. Even the parts where you are taking your time and sneaking around feel really fast and you are always ready for the action. The game is also quite challenging which manages to add the pace by keeping you on your toes.

I loved Butcher Bay but this was my first time playing it. If you have already played it before, I don’t see why it wouldn’t be worth playing again with better graphics. It is an incredible game and even if you have witnessed it is still worth playing through again.


Now onto Dark Athena which is was designed specifically for this generation consoles and is set after the events of Butcher Bay. It uses the same combat mechanics as Butcher Bay so the combat works extremely well. However unlike Butcher Bay, Dark Athena revolves more around action than stealth. This is pretty disappointing as stealth was the main focus of Butcher Bay. The game is still good though and there are some pretty impressive fire fights, my favourite being one that is based around gravity. One of the rooms aboard the Dark Athena is used to generate gravity on the ship. When you get to this room there are loads of guards for you to fight but the gravity is pulling you and the guards towards the pit in the centre so you need to keep moving. Every time someone dies, their body flies across the room while you continue to shoot at guards. Out of all the shoot-outs in the game, this is easily the best one.

Even though it has great mechanics it isn’t as good as Butcher Bay for many reasons. Like I just said it focuses too much on combat but there are other reasons too. The pace isn’t as good as Butcher Bay which is all down to a certain point where you think it has ended but it just keeps on going. This makes it start to drag on for a bit and ruins the pace. Right at the very end (And I mean the VERY end), the pace picks up a bit though. It isn’t very challenging either. There are some hard bits but generally you will be able to get through the game without too many problems. Butcher Bay was really rewarding because it was difficult and required skill to get through while Dark Athena isn’t up to these difficulty standards. It’s still hard compared to most recent FPS’.

It doesn’t really do anything different from Butcher Bay though. It sticks to the same formula and rarely provides anything substantially different. There are a few new additions but it would have been nice to see it do a little more. On the other hand if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

Now onto things that both games share. The graphics in both games are brilliant. There are some great character models and it has amazing lighting. Environments look great too. It has a gritty style but not in the grey, generic way and it does suit the game. The voice acting is great in the game and some great voice actors including Vin Diesel (Obviously), John DiMaggio and Ron Pearlman.

Both games are really immersive too which Starbreeze seems to have a knack for. It’s mainly to do with the very fluid first person animations when swinging your arms about in combat. There are really well done and it almost feels like your there. You can also see Riddick’s legs which always add to the immersion.  For certain events, such as climbing and using handrails it switched to third person. As cool as it would have been to play these parts in first person, seeing Riddick in third person makes a nice change.

And finally, the multiplayer. Now it’s hard to get a good opinion on the multiplayer since barely anyone plays it. I’m playing the PS3 version but I’ve been told that it is the same with the X360 version. From the few matches I did play though I found it to be a laggy mess of a game which really didn’t feel like Riddick. It felt more like a slower version of Unreal. Having a minigun basically means that you are invincible and it becomes far too easy to mow people down with it. However this could have been because of my firing randomly when the lag got bad and killing people without knowing what just happened

 The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena is a great game. Escape from Butcher Bay is one of the greatest FPS’ of all time and is definitely the highlight of the package. Assault on Dark Athena may not be as good but still manages to be very entertaining and a very welcome addition to the package. It is definitely worth getting for a great experience that is different from every other FPS of this generation.

+ Butcher Bay is incredible
+ The stealth works really well and makes it different from most other FPS’
+ Has a great pace throughout most of it

– Drags on a little towards the end of Dark Athena
– Multiplayer isn’t very good



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