Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay

Review

posted 6/22/2004 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: Xbox
In most cases, licensed video games are rushed to retail in order to capitalize on the buzz surrounding the major motion picture on which it is based on. This is one of those rare cases where the complete opposite is actually true about the video game and motion picture role sequencing. Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay is actually far superior to the motion picture that was just released last Friday, and if the marketing folks are smart, they’ll use Vivendi’s video game as a marketing tool to bring more suckers into the theatres.

Based on a character from the cult action movie Pitch Black, Chronicles of Riddick follows the story of a bad-ass named Riddick and his escape from the galaxy’s most notorious prison. You play the game from the first person perspective and wield a number of firearms, but simply calling the game a first person shooter would be an insult. So many adventure and stealth-game elements have been tossed into the fray that you often forget about the perspective and become immersed in the world.

You’ll travel to a wide array of towns and prisons, all of which act as your mission hubs. For each one you’re confined to the area where you’ll have to carry out a couple of missions in order to gain access to the next area. In the beginning you begin at the lower-tier prison where you run the yards and carry out hits to get in the good graces of some of the inmates. Later on you’ll move into a man’s apartment and complete some of his missions in an underground setting called “The Pit.” As an interesting twist the game includes a quasi-adventure game element where you’ll have to travel around and talk to other characters. It’s here where you’ll discover new missions, learn more about your surroundings and shed light upon the intentions of other characters. Riddick was designed to be linear but there are a number of side-missions and alternate routes that you can choose to partake in. In one are you’ll have to get yourself into an interrogation room that’s hidden from the view of cameras. To get there you could continue to win in a shootfighting contest or try to pass the guards with some drugs in your pockets. There’s nothing surprisingly deep here like you would find in a Knights of the Old Republic but it’s definitely unexpected from this genre of gaming.

In total there are three distinct types of gameplay to be found in Riddick. First is the traditional first person shooter element where you wander through an area and shoot everything that moves, second is a stealth element which requires you to use your wits to dispose of the foes and third is the aforementioned adventuring element where you’re required to interact with NPCs. For a shooter the game has a number of surprising elements thrown into the mix. You’ll have access to a pistol, a shotgun, an assault rifle, some melee weapons and your bare hands. Keeping in tune with the movie, all of the weapons are DNA coded to match their owners. Anyone who tries to pick up a firearm that doesn’t’ belong to them will receive a hearty shock to ward them off. This is nice because it adds an artificial balance to the game and makes most of the weapons a premium instead of a given.
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