Richard B Riddick returns to the gaming universe in this semi-remake prequel of Escape from Butcher Bay.
Is it any good? Read my Square Go Review and find out.
The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena
It’s hard not to love Richard B. Riddick; effortlessly cool, sharply intelligent and a completely homocidal brick shithouse to boot. The sociopathic, silver-eyed, anti-hero of the movie Pitch Black and it’s various spin-offs is one of the best Sci-fi characters invented in the last ten years. Which is why it’s easy to understand the annoyance felt by XBOX owners when it turned out that the original videogame prequel Escape from Butcher Bay wouldn’t work on their shiny new XBOX 360s.
Now the Developers have made amends by releasing a sequel, Assault on Dark Athena, picking up directly where the last game ended and further continuing the adventures of Riddick in the build up to where the first movie began. To sweeten the deal even more the package is rounded out with a completely remastered version of the directors edition of Butcher’s Bay. Meaning that Dark Athena is really two complete games in one.
They’re gorgeous looking as well with black pits and stone crags giving way to endless corridors of burnished metal. Having Vin Diesel and Cole Hauser lending their voices and likenesses to Riddick and Johns just adds to the immersion, as does having an A-list Hollywood cast of cult favourites voicing the other characters.
The games begin with Riddick en route to prison in the custody of Bounty-hunter and long time foe William T. Johns. From there he’s locked in the slammer of Butcher’s Bay prison and it’s up to the player to get him out of there. It takes so long and so many attempts that you start to wonder if he’s really trying. Which would be a problem if it wasn’t so much fun. Inevitably he does escape and the second game picks up a short time later as his ship is hi-jacked by the titular Dark Athena, a Mercenary cruiser busy pillaging planets and converting captives into cyborg drones. It’s down to Riddick to sneak about the ship before heading down to their latest planetary conquest to ruin their day and generally cause as much mischief as he can.
The gameplay doesn’t fit to one exact style, it’s as if three genres of game all bumped into each other and got stuck. While the majority of both games is spent creeping between shadows and quietly snapping necks in the dark, there are also protracted shooting sections; where Vinny-boy goes running and gunning through hordes of far superior forces, and some quieter moments of dialogue and sidequests. Happily they all mesh brilliantly so when after chatting to some randoms, you turn a corner and shiv a drone before grabbing his gun and mowing down five of his mates, it never feels forced.
Naturally one aspect is never as good as others, and here it’s the gunplay that suffers. Shootouts are horribly unmatched, with only a few shots needed to turn Riddick into a shiny-eyed corpse. Dark Athena suffers most for this as there are legions of soldiers and pesky droids shooting at you through daylit streets towards the end. Annoyingly these fights are frequently unavoidable, as often enemies will stand facing doors that can only be opened by standing in plain sight. Still it never becomes so infuriating you stop playing, and the satisfaction of taking out an entire room of bads without making a sound makes up for all the hardship.
You’d be hard pressed to find a game this fun and varied. As Riddick might say: “Two for the price of one, hard thing to pass up.”