Sunday, April 26, 2009

Xbox 360 - Chronicles of Riddick - Butcher Bay

Chronicles of Riddick:
Escape From Butcher Bay
from Atari

Game Type: First Person Shooter
Rated for Violence, Language

This game is a re-release of a 2004 original Xbox game that appears on Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena. However, Atari decided to redo this game to fully utilize the Xbox 360. So, if you haven't played this game, you are in for a treat. If you have played it before, the graphics, sound and achievements are all updated for the Xbox 360. So, it may be worth a play through again.

I didn't play this game in 2004 even though I owned an Xbox. So, this game is new to me. Because it's included on this game disk and because it's been facelifted for the 360, I am including a review of it here now as I consider it to be a 'new' game.


The game starts with Johns, a merc who's interested in placing Riddick into a high security prison in exchange for money. He drops Riddick off at Butcher Bay (apparently one of the toughest penal colonies out there). Riddick must attempt to escape. The story follows Riddick as he works his way around through this prison talking with all of the inmates and working on a plan to get out.

As the story unfolds, you'll learn of how Riddick gets his 'shined' eyes (the way he sees in the dark). Unfortunately, this story line doesn't really follow with the movies. Pitch Black and even Chronicles of Riddick allude to solitary confinement in the dark for extended period of time that led to this. But, that's not how this game's story tells it.


The gameplay style is, as would be expected, like Dark Athena (on the same disk). I should really say that Dark Athena is like Butcher Bay, because this game came first. This is your basic first person shooter. You are in a prison colony, so you can't really do a whole lot other than wander and ask lots of questions.
In return for helping people, you get rewards including weapons and cigarette packs (extra content).


The controls are reasonably straight forward. There is a weapon wheel that you pull up with the right bumper button (RB). So, you can change your weapons using this wheel. You don't actually get Riddick's 'shined' eyes until later during this game. But, you will get the ability to see in the dark after that happens. Before then, you are limited to needing lights or flares. In one case, getting out of the level is difficult. Of course, this is the level right before you get the 'shined eyes'.


The music score and sound effects are done well. The game relies on swelling sound tracks and ambient noises to set the tone of this game. It does this well. This is a very cinematic sounding experience even when the graphics of the game doesn't lend itself to the musical themes and events.


I liked the story and the idea behind this game a little more than Dark Athena. Butcher Bay gives a lot more back story to the Riddick character than Dark Athena. The revelation of the shined eyes is good, but I was expecting more from the female voice in Dark Athena. The voice that seems to guide Riddick throughout Butcher Bay (and is in the films). I like the idea of a guiding force behind Riddick, but that force never manifested itself in Dark Athena.

  • Sound: 9/10 (cinematic, ambient)
  • Graphics: 9/10 (textures are well done, Riddick could be better)
  • Gameplay: 8/10 (straight forward gameplay)
  • Story: 6/10 (not revealing enough)
  • Bugginess: 5/10 (crashed once)
  • Controls: 8/10 (works well in most places, doesn't work in tight spots)
  • Bang-to-buck: 8/10 (2 games on one disc)
  • Play Value: $25 (worth it, but the game is a bit short)
  • Overall: 8/10 (not an RPG, but definitely an 8 for a shooter)

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