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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Vivendi

 

Developer

Saffire / Tigon Studios

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q2 2004

 

 

- The best graphics ever seen in a videogame
- Stealth, Action, and Hand-to-hand combat meshed into one beautifully
- Voice acting done by Hollywood’s finest
- Multiple ways of killing an enemy supported by crisp animations

 

 

- Music doesn’t play a huge role
- Virtually no replay value
- Where is the multiplayer?

 

 

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The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay

Score: 9.1 / 10

 

chronicles of riddick review         chronicles of riddick review

 

Movie licenses in videogames have turned out dreadful in the past. With an exception to a select few, movie licenses usually serve as more advertisement for the film at hand. Now as the summer films are nearing their release, these multi-million dollar films need as much advertisement as possible. Thankfully, Tigon and Starbreeze Studios realize that it is possible to make an entertaining game of a movie license. The amount of detail and quality drips from The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay (EFBB) and is so beautiful that the game ranks among the top Xbox videogames.

Unlike most movie licensed games, there are two major reasons why EFBB remains different. The first is that the game was developed by Tigon Studios, a company Vin Diesel created specially to produce games for movies he stars in. Even though

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Starbreeze Studios had a huge hand in the production of the game, Tigon did an incredible job. The second is that the game takes place during another time than the movie itself. Expanding on the character and story of Riddick, the game takes place before the first film of the movie franchise, Pitch Black. Not many movie licensed games follow down this path, but I know of one other game that performed the same trick, and it didn’t do too badly – Star

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Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

EFBB starts off with Riddick telling the story of one of his many prison breaks. He is sent to Butcher Bay, a triple-max prison home to some of the most ruthless prisoners in the galaxy. The head of the prison, Warden Hoxie, is not a big fan of Riddick and neither is his arch rival, Johns (some will recognize from Pitch Black as the cop trying to make some money off Riddick). Now, being dropped off in a prison filled with guarded turrets, heavily armored guards, prisoners who want to kill Riddick, and machines capable of mass destruction – Riddick must find a way to escape.

What is directly apparent from the get-go are EFBB’s remarkable graphics. You’ll notice the self-shadowing, accurate models, incredible detail with no slow down at all. The reason behind this is a new type of technology called “normal mapping” which takes low-poly models and objects and makes them look high-poly even though the model you see is still low-poly. If all of this sounds confusing, it’s because I still don’t understand it completely myself. The only way I can sum it up is by saying that EFBB displays the best graphics ever seen in a videogame, and I’m sure you would think the same way as well.

Another big part of EFBB’s success is the amazing gameplay that fuses together three different styles in one: Hand-to-hand combat, stealth, and straight-up shooting.

Throughout the game you’ll have plenty of opportunities to use all three styles (in 3rd and 1st first perspectives. Even if the opponent is using a weapon, you can perform combos in order to neutralize the enemy. One of my favorite moves is being able to turn a rifle against a guard and shoot them for the kill. The clean-cut animations and easy to learn gameplay make for some memorable sequences.

The hand-to-hand combat is a lot more fun than the other fighting styles, but is also the most risky. The enemy AI wielding weapons will hit you aside and then shoot you, instead of engaging in a fistfight. In other words, the AI will utilize its own advantages over Riddick in order to take him down.

 

chronicles of riddick review          chronicles of riddick review


In the hand-to-hand combat view you will also be able to pick up or steal weapons, such as brass knuckles, screwdrivers, clubs, and knives. Using these weapons limits the amount of combos, but does make for some entertaining, and bloody, finishing moves.

The stealth portion of EFBB isn’t as fun as the hand-to-hand combat, but it does get the job done. When entering into the stealth view, Riddick will crouch down and the screen will turn into a vague dark blue showing that Riddick is unseen by the enemy. In this mode Riddick will move behind enemies and take them out a number of ways. Again, the variability of neutralizing enemies is showcased with clean animations.

The final way to kill enemies is perhaps better represented as the classic way. Pick up a gun, and just shoot everybody. This might sound easy in theory, although it is difficult to perform realistically due to the DNA-locked weapons. In order to use the guards’ weapon, Riddick must have his DNA become valid in order to wield their weapons. Most of the time throughout the game Riddick will be without a weapon, but there are still lots of opportunities to dispense shells and pierce bodies. There are some control issues, particularly in chaotic fights. In order to throw a grenade you must first select it from the inventory, which is done in real-time. The time used to select the grenade is very crucial and can mean life or death, but overall, this wasn’t a major problem.

With all of the beauty in graphics and gameplay it was up to the sound department to keep the same standards of quality – which they did exceptionally well. Riddick is voiced by Vin Diesel himself and Cole Hauser, the actor who portrayed Johns in the film Pitch Black returns to do the voice of the distasteful character, even though he has no part in the new film. Other guest voices include Xzibit (Rapper, Pimp My Ride show on MTV) and Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Enemy at the Gates). Each voice is done very well making each and every character believable. The punches, weapons, and other ambient sounds are precise and pleasant to the ears from beginning to end. (Don’t worry, Vin Diesel’s acting doesn’t get in the way here.)

If there is any one reason why Riddick holds out from being the perfect game, it would have to be the fact the game will last most gamers under ten hours with virtually no replay value. The game runs by in a breeze even with all of the side-quests and cigarette packs to pick up. (Each pack unlocks a still from the new film, concept art from the game, and other imagery from the Riddick series.) There aren’t any mini-games to unlock or, the biggest travesty of all, a multiplayer mode. The lack of replay value is disheartening when noticing all of the fine tuning involved in EFBB and will always remain an enigma why there isn’t a feature included? Even though I was disappointed with no extra features, I was still extremely satisfied with the game as a whole.

- Eric Lahiji

 

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