The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay
Game Info
Platform(s)
Xbox
Publisher
VU Games
Developer
Starbreeze
Genre
First Person Shooter
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood, Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Awesome graphics
• Solid voice cast
• Melee and stealth gameplay is well implemented
• Sidequests add to the main game

The Bad

• No multiplayer
• Short length

 
Grade
A-

With the surprise success of the sci-fi movie Pitch Black, Vin Diesel's antihero, Riddick, quickly became fodder for a film sequel. It's a shame that the movie sequel tried to make Riddick into some lonewolf savior, weakening his violent antihero image. To counteract this dilution of what could have been a prime bit of intellectual property, VU Games and Starbreeze have developed Escape From Butcher Bay, a videogame prequel that puts players in control of Riddick before he went soft. And before he got his cool eyes.

Escape From Butcher Bay begins with Riddick in the custody of the bounty hunter Johns and on his way to the super-prison Butcher Bay. Once there, he wastes little time before planning his escape. Of course, things never work out to be as simple as even Riddick could hope. In his time spent in various locations within the prison/mining facility, Riddick comes across a deranged preacher in the sewers that gives him his special eyes.

Played in the first person perspective, Escape From Butcher Bay has all the mechanics you're familiar with in a FPS. You can jump, crouch and crawl. The Right trigger fires an equipped weapon and you can swap weapons with the Y Button. The X Button is used to interact with the environment, including climbing on boxes and up ladders. Unlike most FPS titles, a lot of time it will be to your benefit to move stealthily in the shadows. Often, you don't have decent weapons and must survive by your wits alone. To this effect, you have the ability to hide in shadows, which is signified by a blue hue that pops up on the screen when you're successfully hidden. You might think this is just for show, but Riddick has some moves at his disposal.

When you sneak up behind someone, you can grab them and snap their necks, be it quietly or just quickly. Sometimes, an enemy will find out you're there when you have no weapons to help you. Fortunately, you can time it to grab their weapon and turn it on them. This is especially useful as most weapons are DNA encoded, which prevent your from picking up guns except a certain times. You can also drop from heights onto patrolling guards, killing them with the impact.

There will be multiple occasions in the game where Riddick will have to fight an enemy in hand-to-hand combat. In fact, there's a fighting ring that can earn you money when you end up victorious. The melee combat is pretty fluid without being overly complex. The Left Trigger blocks attacks and the RIght Trigger throws punches. Depending on how you move and how quickly you hit the Right Trigger, you can throw different punches and even combinations. You can even time your movements to grab an opponent's hand and then punch him in the head, often ending a fight pretty quickly.

Throughout the game, you'll find packs of cigarettes that unlock art and pictures from both the game and the movie. Most of the time, these packs will be laying around, but other times you'll have to buy them or earn them through doing side-missions. While most of the game is pretty straightforward, there are portions where you can take time to do side-missions for prisoners. Some of these just involve find items and returning them and other times, it just requires you to kill someone (and maybe even a combination of the two).

Graphically, Escape From Butcher Bay is gorgeous to behold. Except for some jaggies, especially in the cutscenes, the game looks fantastic. Character models are highly detailed and show off some fine animation. Lighting is dynamic and works excellently to accent the high-res textures and well-sculpted environments. The textures are excellently detailed, even up close, and show off a good bit of variety. The visual filters used when you use Riddick's night vision add a nice effect and it's nice to see the effect of bright light on this vision mode. With the minimalist HUD, the game's visuals goes a long way to draw you into the gameworld.

While not as impressive as the visuals, the audio portion is still done well. The soundtrack is of film quality and works well to establish a mood for each portion of the game. Sound effects all feel as though the were created specifically for the weapon and action they're attached to, giving a successful weight to your actions. The sounds of melee combat is quite intense. Probably the one thing that really stands out is the high-quality voice cast, including Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker and Ron Perlman.

Usually a game with no multiplayer and running a little bit on the short side, I would have a hard time suggesting buying, but Escape From Butcher Bay is put together so well that a purchase is well worth it for anyone who enjoys first person shooters or action titles of any kind. The experience is well done all the way around and worth your money.

- - Kinderfeld

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