The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay Review
“The dark can’t protect you.”
Especially when those eyes penetrate the blackness and give sight where nothing is truly visible.
Vivendi Universal in conjunction with Universal and Tigon Studios and Starbreeze Studios are the ones responsible for The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, game slated for release on the Xbox console system. The game is a prequel to the Vin Diesel motion picture, and will give players a solid background into the movie and the character.
This is a game that is primarily a first-person combat title, with enough interesting twists and turns to keep players on the edge of their seats while immersing them in the dark underbelly of the world.
“You cannot escape your destiny …”
“I can escape anything.”
“Like Butcher Bay?”
Riddick describes Butcher Bay as the toughest place in the galaxy, impossible to escape but then “they never met me.”
The game begins nicely enough with Riddick being dumped off at the Butcher Bay facility, sort of a hole in the galaxy where convict go to disappear. There are some tutorial instructions to get players familiar with the control elements, but most of what this game offers is somewhat intuitive. Of course, because the game is heavy on the combat elements, as an intro, you get to snap the neck of the guard who accompanies you to the prison.
The game also uses rag-doll physics, so that NPCs (non-playing characters) you take down flop around and are dragged with satisfying motion.
While the game has some power-ups and other items you can collect along the way, one of the items that you must earn are the weapons the guards carry. All the weapons in the game are DNA-encoded, meaning if your DNA does not match the file for the weapon, you are in for a nasty shock.
Some of the pick-ups will unlock things other than what are pertinent to the game. You can pick up a pack of smokes and unlock movie stills. Great for fans of the motion picture.
Chronicles of Riddick does sport three difficulty settings to appeal to players of any level. There are save points and med stations along the ride, and the game has a vast array of minor puzzles and a lot of combat opportunities.
The game has wonderful sound capabilities with peripheral conversations that get louder as you get closer. The dialogue flows around you and the game has an array of conversations, which will feed you intelligence to guide your efforts. The musical themes running through this game also do a wonderful job of setting the mood.
The graphical elements of this game are remarkable as well. Dynamic shadows and lighting, textured environments are rich with detail. Stand next to a wall and you can see the mottling on the stone. Riddick looks remarkably like Diesel (and yes, that is his voice), and the animation is very smooth. While the game is mostly in first-person mode, at times you cut away to the third-person perspective.
Early on, as you begin to traverse through the prison, you will have to go hand-over-hand across an overhead hang rail. It is times like this that the game switches to third-person mode. As Riddick is hanging there, a guard enters below. Guards and other prisoners are your adversaries. You can release your hold on the hang rail and drop down on the guard, killing him.
The graphics engine uses normal mapping, a bleeding-edge technology that allows for rendering a flat-textured surface as though it were complex three-dimensional geometry. What that translates to is a game that is a superb visual treat. The engine also allows for advance facial animation.
The fights are first person, with the left and right triggers controlling blocking and punching. When used with the left thumbstick, you can perform various attacks, and do combos as well. In all, this game features more than 30 levels, 15 weapon types and 20 enemy types, as well as an increasing level of difficulty.
Those familiar with Richard Riddick know that he has a special ability, which allows him to see in low-light areas. The darkness is his friend, but not the friend to others. This is a title that is part maze-like puzzle, with a lot of fighting from a somewhat simple storyline. However, the lack of depth in the story really adds to the game, not detracts from it.
The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher
Bay is a taut, well-designed combat title that will lure in fans of the genre,
as well as appeal to fans of the movie. Riddick may want out of this prison, but
players will definitely want in to see what this world has to offer.
The game moves smoothly from one location to the next, providing a seamless adventure. Because of the terrific lighting and shadows, this game lures players into the realm of this prison.
Simply amazing. The lighting effects are superb, the animation is wonderful – this game takes the genre to the next level.
The music effectively captures the flavor of the game and while Vin Diesel’s voice acting is a little understated, it manages to help with the flow of the game.
Three difficulty levels, although the real challenge is not in the way the game plays out, but rather in the number and skill of the enemies you have to overcome.
This game scores on the concept scale not only for the wonderful game design, but for the fact that offers a facet of the life of Riddick not available elsewhere.
You can contact your Xbox Live friends’ list through this game and communicate with them while playing.
This is a terrific game. If you like action, combat, adventure, then pick this one up. Chronicles of Riddick as enough of each to keep you enthralled and excited.
The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay Comments
GameZone Review Detail
Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay is an amazingly graphic combat title
Reviewer: Michael Lafferty
Review Date: 06/04/2004
Blood and Gore