The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena Xbox 360 Review

May 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay will always be remembered as one of those rare treats: a film licence that didn’t seem rushed. When it was released way back in 2004, it was actually a licensed game that was better received than its source material . Now, in 2009, Starbreeze Studios hasn’t only polished up the original game, but they’ve also created an entirely new campaign to play through.

So, what you get here is a graphically enhanced Escape from Butcher Bay and the brand new Assault on Dark Athena campaign. One of the bigger complaints of the original Xbox release was the lack of multiplayer, so Starbreeze has also addressed this issue as well, adding in online and system link multiplayer. Right, where should we start? The nasty place that is Butcher Bay of course.

The original Escape from Butcher Bay hasn’t actually aged too badly in its five years, although it’s aged enough to look out of place on today’s hardware, so Starbreeze Studios have been looking at all the levels, maxing out the detail and adding in lighting where lighting wasn’t before. The results are great, both the old and new campaign look gorgeous and are certainly a huge step-up over the original.

The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay’s story is simple and more than suggested in the title: playing as the titular and murderous Riddick, your mission is to escape this very unsavoury place, something which no one has ever done before (this guy has muscles and can see in the dark though, +1 to Riddick!) Dialogue delivery from the actors is superb and the mysterious Richard B. Riddick (played by Vin Diesel) certainly has some memorable lines.

The game combines first person fighting, shooting and stealth to good effect. Melee fighting doesn’t (warning, upcoming and very intentional pun) pull any punches in its brutality: messing faces, and using weapons in a very unrestrained manner. Shooting is decent enough, though it’s easy to see that it’s the stealth that is the most sensible option (Riddick is certainly no tank), and for portions of the game, attempting to carry a firearm will, following an electric shock, just make Riddick’s hair (well, if he had any that is) stand up on end anyway.

Putting yourself into a crouch places you in hiding mode. When you’re snugly tucked away in the dark shadows, the screen has a blue tinge to signal that you can‘t currently be seen, allowing you to make quick and quiet kills, then dragging their bodies into hiding so as to not garner any attention from other guards in the area. Combine this sneaking in shadows with Riddick’s eyeshine ability (which allows him to see in the dark) and he becomes somebody that should be feared by every man and his dog.

Assault on Dark Athena will be the main interest for those who have already spent time with Escape from Butcher Bay. This new campaign takes place after the events of Butcher Bay and is still largely about hiding in shadows, although there’s less darkness in some sections, forcing you to use gunplay. The stalking, this time around, takes place on the titular Athena ship: a mercenary ship, containing dangerous criminals and mindless drones. When these drones are taken out, their corpses can be picked up and when desperation calls for it, their machine guns can be borrowed and fired, though you can only walk backwards whilst doing so. You’ll also get to control drones, which you’ll find to be as disposable as they are useful. Overall, Assault on Dark Athena is a great campaign, although it’s more frustrating than Butcher Bay and ultimately just not as memorable.

Wrapping up this value for money package are the new multiplayer modes. There’s death-matches (arena, team and lone wolf varieties) and capture the flag for the traditionalist, whilst the fantastic Pitch Black mode has one player playing as Riddick (stalking his enemies in the dark with only a pair of deadly ulaks for company) and the other players hunting him down with their guns and torches, with the player that kills Riddick becoming him in the next round. Finally, there’s Butcher Bay Riot which combines the weapon purchasing of Counter Strike with the rules of Capture the Flag (the flag being a power cell). The multiplayer hasn’t exactly pulled people away from their Halo’s or Call of Duty’s though, thus It’s not exactly thriving with other people to shoot at or team with. Severe lag also crops up frequently, further spoiling this multiplayer party.

With two campaigns and a multiplayer mode, The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena is good value for money. People wanted a multiplayer mode in the original release, well, as late and laggy as it may be, here it is in this re-release. The game was also originally too short, well here’s a new single player campaign to go with the old one. When all comes to all, it’s quite the package then, and one that shines brightly in the darkness.