Review By: Brittany Vincent
|# Of Players:||1 (2-12 online)|
|Accessories:||Xbox Live (online play)|
The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay was one of the greatest games available on the original Xbox. It still holds up fantastically today, both in game conventions and graphics. Starbreeze has revived the Riddick franchise with the release of Assault on Dark Athena, the next chapter in the story. However, with so many expectations to live up to as the sequel to a game so well-received by fans of the movies and franchise, how does it stack up? Unfortunately, not so well. It comes off as only a poor tribute to the original game, falling short in multiple areas. This is quite disappointing, as the original was such a treat!
Assault on Dark Athena actually takes place shortly after the events that transpired within the original game. Riddick and Johns are jetting through space, and eventually run into the Dark Athena, a ship chock full of mercenaries who'd rather steal your belongings than look at you. Staying true to their nature, the mercenaries decide to take over Johns' ship. Riddick is all too glad to hop aboard the Dark Athena and reclaim what is rightfully his - er, theirs. Just like Butcher Bay, we find Riddick amongst prisoners, stowaways, and guards, all with plenty of places (and darkness) to hide in. This time around there are no mechs, only drones, which are a bit disappointing. Toss in the fact that rather than a crazy warden, you're facing up against Revan, the diabolical commander of the Dark Athena, and you're practically set up for a time that can't be as good as the first adventure ever was.
Assault is your standard first-person fare, though I wouldn't term it an FPS. Riddick spends most of his time fighting via fists, stolen weaponry, or Ulaks (curved blades). The focus of the game is more on the element of surprise rather than full-on bloodshed. If you're a run-and-gunner who finds that you're in your element when you're eliminating at the speed of light, then you won't find much to like in this game. Most of your time will be spent creeping around in the shadows or in Stealth mode, in order to avoid conflict and to take out drones as well as guards with the greatest of ease.
Because of this, the game feels rather slow at times, almost dismally so. You'll need a lot of patience in order to do well, and this won't sit right with some gamers. Combine that with the fact that AI is extremely dull, and we have a bit of a situation. Often, you can walk right up behind a drone soldier without them batting an eye, but other occasions, you can be a few feet away and you will be spotted. This makes for some very wonky gameplay, and the uncertainty of knowing whether or not your stealth mode is helping or hindering your progress can be unnerving. Coincidentally, the stealth mode was considered not to be as important of a part this time around, but since you can't run-and-gun with a Drone's gun, and better guns are few and far between, most of what you'll be doing anyway is sneaking.
To aid in seeing in the dark, Riddick can utilize "eye shine", which is essentially the game's version of a flashlight. It's a good thing it never runs out like a flashlight does, because then you'd always be in the dark. We get it. Riddick flourishes in the dark. Does that mean we have to squint to make out everything onscreen?
Posted: 2009-07-10 10:04:05 PST