The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena Review
It's been five years since The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay busted out on the Xbox. Now we get a pseudo-sequel in the form of The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena which combines the hi-rez HD version of a remastered Butcher Bay game with a new Dark Athena adventure plus online multiplayer in a smoking triple pack - a great value not seen since the cornucopian Orange Box.
How well does Butcher Bay hold up? Building off the hi-rez assets of the PC version, the 360 iteration is your definitive vessel into the Riddick world. And what a splendidly black and vile world it is, filled with double-cross and neck-snapping catharsis. Riddick is a bad-ass. He backs up his baritone one-liners with conviction and a shiny shiv. You'll be a fool to doubt him.
Conviction is an apt descriptor for the Riddick games. The conviction in the voice acting from Vin Diesel and the entire cast draws the player into his dark and violent criminal universe. When an inmate tries to sell you a shiv he promises will open up your victim like a fish, you believe him. You're sickened by him, but you buy it anyway. Your fellow inmates emote with hand gestures and posture for power but cower when tortured. The prison guards are no better. They're corrupt and beat you when you cross them. No matter which person you're standing by, in prison you're next to filth. Fortunately, you're not locked in with these psychopaths. These dregs are locked in with you -- Riddick.
When you talk about graphics, Butcher Bay continues to rival many current releases. The Starbreeze team really built a solid engine and over the years have maintained it with great reverence to keep it still shining. Their hard work has paid off in spades as Riddick remains unique in a market of bland gimmicky shooters (Fracture, Timeshift, Dark Sector, Legendary, etc.) with nothing going for them but one simple hook.
Riddick stays above the pack by delivering fresh gameplay, good pacing, and a nice mix of genres from FPS to stealth to RPG. A fair comparison is God of War pacing meets Splinter Cell sneaking meets Fallout 3 fetching. There's never a dull moment. Plus, for the first time, console players will get to pilot the riot guard mech.
Dark Athena is not a sequel. Instead, it is a generous helping of expansion pack to flesh out the further chronicles of Riddick. The gameplay mechanics stay the same but you get a new weapon called the dual Ulaks to play with aboard the mercenary ship Dark Athena. The pacing is a little sporadic and the A.I. is spotty compared to Butcher Bay's, but the visuals are improved over the original. The facial acting in the character models are impressive and show a new depth in emotions. For good or bad, there's a lot more gunplay as well. But having played through the first part of the game, it's nice to let loose and see the ground run red.
Online multiplayer is a new addition. It was requested by fans during the original release. Starbreeze answered the call. But like all games with multiplayer jammed in where it shouldn't, here it serves little more than as a bullet-point on the back of the box for its standard, by-the-numbers offerings. The most notable option is the "Pitch Black" mode, which pits you against everyone else and may strike a cord with fanatic FPS gamers. Hopefully multiplayer will entice the final quota of people looking for the biggest bang for their buck to buy this awesome, mature-rated game.
The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena is a great bundle, especially to those new to the Riddick mythos. Featuring three separate chunks of game, it is also a great value. The main attraction remains Escape for Butcher Bay for its groundbreaking mix of gameplay and refined visuals. Assault on Dark Athena is a fun and meaty expansion for those looking to eke out more game while praying for another movie. Multiplayer is bland but competent and is the final leg in a tripod that props the entire Riddick package way above a number of games available on the Xbox 360 and PS3. If you haven't experienced Riddick, there's no reason left to hide.
- Radical Entertainment Puts Biological Outbreak Control in a Box - PROTOTYPE(R) 2 Blackwatch Collector's Edition Confirmed
- Rockstar Games: Asked and Answered Part 2/Max Payne 3
- SUMTHING ELSE MUSIC WORKS RELEASES RESISTANCE 3 ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
- Order Up!! to be Delivered to PlayStation 3 system on February 28th
- Get Ready to Lick the Competition with Girl Fight, Coming Soon to PSN
- No Need to Feel Blue, The Power of the Azure is here! - PS3
- Worms Ultimate Mayhem Out This Week on PlayStation Store!
- Grab Your Light (Shot)Gun! SEGA Launches The House of the Dead 3 for PlayStation Network
- Your Move - UFC Undisputed 3 Available Now at Retail Outlets Throughout North America
- Rockstar Games: Asked and Answered Max Payne 3, GTA V
- Batman Arkham City Cheat Codes For PS3 Revealed
- Uncharted Drake's Deception Cheat Codes Revealed
- New Devil May Cry Gameplay Video Now Available
- The Amazing Spider-Man Returns to New York City
- Wanted Corp. available now on PlayStation Network
- How To Get Your PS3 To Run Linux, Free Apps
- New Update for Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition
- Battlefield Set To Be Unleashed As A Free PS3 Game
- King of Fighters '96 PS3 Review
- Metal Slug 2 PS3 Review
- How To Get A PlayStation Network Card
- Dead Rising 2 Off The Record Cosplay Warrior Costume and Skills Pack Now Available
- Turtle Beach's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Limited Edition Headset Line Widely Available by October 25th
- PS3 On-Screen Keyboard - Code Released by Blipi for Developers
- Holy Hand Grenade Batman! Arkham Asylum Controllers at GamingZap!
- XtendPlay Ergonomic Adaptors for PS3 & Xbox 360 Controllers Now in Stock at GamingZap!
- Brand New XCM Products at GamingZap
- Limited Edition Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Gaming Eyewear Revealed by GUNNAR Optiks
- Mad Catz Announces New Range of Licensed Major League Gaming Professional Video Game Controllers
- Nyko Zoom for Kinect Gets North American Price and Release Date
Genre: A veritable mash-up of Stealth, RPG, FPS, and Action
Pros: Massive chunk of game, tons of fun, great value, great graphics
Cons: Standard multiplayer modes, spotty A.I. in Dark Athena levels
Xboxist Score: 4.5/5