The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena Review
- Posted April 20th, 2009 at 13:49 EDT by Eric Blattberg
- 17 Comments
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The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena is one hell of a deal.
- The incredible value between both games
- The healthy mix of mechanics
- The high-caliber voice acting
- The monotonous enemies and surroundings
- The shoddy AI
Widely considered the best movie to game adaptation ever, 2004’s The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay blended first person shooting, hand-to-hand combat, and stealth gameplay with a unique, interactive narrative that fit comfortably within -- but didn’t shamelessly duplicate -- the established Riddick chronicle.
This year marks Riddick’s return in a (somewhat) new game: The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena. Dark Athena had a peculiar development cycle. Originally conceived as a straight remake of Butcher Bay, the game evolved as the developers, Starbreeze and Tigon Studios, added new levels. Throughout the development process, this extra content continued to grow and eventually became an entire sequel to Butcher Bay. So, on the Dark Athena disk is a beautified version of Butcher Bay, and of course the new adventure, Assault on Dark Athena.
We’re not going to elaborate too much on Escape from Butcher Bay, since it’s the exact same game you played (or missed) five years ago. Do know this, though: it’s still excellent. Sure, standards have changed, and despite its updated visuals it can feel a tad “old” at times, but you’re doing yourself a disservice if you forgo this game.
Now, let’s talk Assault on Dark Athena. The game is a six-hour romp through a rogue mercenary spaceship called -- you guessed it -- Dark Athena. At the beginning of the game, the ominous Athena ensnares Riddick’s ship, and Riddick must outwit Captain Revas and her army of space drones to escape. The premise isn’t as captivating as Butcher Bay’s, but the high-caliber voice acting makes it tolerable. There are around a half-dozen well-developed characters that you can interact with, and while you might not care deeply for their fates, they won’t bore you either.
What will bore you are the monotonous enemies and surroundings on the Dark Athena. Around half of all foes in the game are lifeless space drones. There are a few human enemies, a couple mechs, and some boss encounters, but variety is severely lacking on this front. The game’s setting is even less varied. With the exception of the tutorial and a brief interval toward the end of the game, the entire game takes place within the confines of the Dark Athena. Once you’ve seen a few rooms, you’ve seen the entire ship; there’s a large amount of backtracking, and a lot of the areas appear unnervingly similar.
Still, the innards of the Dark Athena allow for some gratifying gameplay. Stealth plays a major role – it’s always safer to stick to the shadows than to rush in blindly. It’s definitely satisfying to sneak up on an enemy and dispose of them with a sneak attack, partially due to the superb animations and effects during these moments. It would have been even better if the enemies weren’t mentally deficient. Alas, the AI is far from wonderful. If you dispose of a foe two feet away from his comrade and then leave, there’s a good chance he won’t even notice that his ally is no more. Ignorance is bliss… until you’re stabbed in the back.
When you’ve been exposed, and you don’t have a gun on hand, it’s time to brawl. The hand-to-hand fighting is pretty basic. Combat usually consists of picking a weapon (the Ulaks -- curved blades Riddick wears on each hand -- are undoubtedly the coolest), engaging an enemy, fighting until one of your ‘life boxes’ is low, then running away and standing still so that box is filled up. Rinse, wash, repeat. In open areas, it’s often easy to take advantage of programming deficiencies; enemies can’t go out of certain predefined areas. While fighting Iron Lord, an early boss character, there’s a ledge that he can’t walk on, so you hop on that and batter him with blows across the invisible line until he collapses.
About halfway through the game, gunplay becomes a lot more prevalent. There’s no cover system, but there is a lean and peak mechanic, which accomplishes the same thing. There are only a few guns on offer, but that’s understandable – it’s a first person action game, not a straight shooter. One unique weapon is the Tranquilizer Gun, which is extremely handy ... (continued on next page)
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- 8:51am EDT - April 20th, 2009
looks good might check it out.... (first)
- 8:51am EDT - April 20th, 2009
1st lol @ kopkiwi
- 8:51am EDT - April 20th, 2009
man i know this is not related but i want Gran Turismo5 to come out already=(
- 9:03am EDT - April 20th, 2009
i played the demo and to tell u the truth i couldnt get into it yea it was just the demo but still i couldnt figure out the controls then wen i did i still didnt like it. 6.5/10 peace.
- 9:45am EDT - April 20th, 2009
Game is awesome, though if you got a 360 get that version - compared to the PS3 version its WAY better.
- 10:23am EDT - April 20th, 2009
i tried the demo & wasnt impressed. the original game was great due to the superb graphics of its time, but the enemy`s liked to swear like drunken sailer`s. i`l give this one a miss
- 11:55am EDT - April 20th, 2009
played the demo, I didnt like the effect they put to give the feel of a 3D environment, they completely missed the mark there.
- 2:42pm EDT - April 20th, 2009
Is it me or is PSU being too generous lately?
- 3:15pm EDT - April 20th, 2009
@8 - Last three reviews: Stormrise (4.0), GH Metallica (8.5), The Godfather II (6.5). I think we're pretty balanced.
- 4:21pm EDT - April 20th, 2009
If its as good as Butcher Bay was, I'll probably be trying this out eventually.
- 4:40pm EDT - April 20th, 2009
Please don't judge the game based on the demo. I don't know why they used that level for the demo, the game is actually very good.
- 6:09pm EDT - April 20th, 2009
Vin Desal is a horrid actor and a cheese badbutt.
- 8:33pm EDT - April 20th, 2009
@12 - Vin Diesel is actuallya great actor, from the Chronicles of Rid|)ick triliogy to the Fast and Furious movies also Babylon A.D his a great actor, their are plenty worse actors than him
- 10:47pm EDT - April 20th, 2009
I thought the demo was a level from Butcher Bay. The graphics were horrible! And is it me or does first-person-melee seem simply ineffective? Not something I'll be picking up anytime soon(if ever).
- 11:58pm EDT - April 20th, 2009
just goes to show how important a demo can be for the success of not as high profile games. Almost no advertising (atleast any that i saw), and a shoddy demo. If the online play is non existent/sucks, there's no point of actually buying the game and might as well just rent it. maybe ><
- 12:30pm EDT - April 21st, 2009
ERIC2929 I never played the first game and wanted to know if you would recommend this game. I have read plenty of reviews on the game that say it is good but for some reason I hesitate everytime I go to buy the game. I played the demo and I have to admit that I didn't like it but plying a bad demo hasn't stopped from buying games in the past. If you read this just let me know what you think.
- 3:28pm EDT - April 24th, 2009
The review is my recommendation. I wouldn't necessarily recommend this if you were looking solely for new content, but when you throw Butcher Bay into the mix, you're getting a ton of value and great gameplay. So yeah, I recommend it.
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