Retrospect: Chronicles of Riddick, Escape from Butcher Bay

Escape from Butcher Bay is one of the most cinematic games I’ve ever played. Developed by Starbreeze, it focuses on a man named Riddick(Vin Diesel through and through), as he tries to escape a prison facility known as Butcher Bay. To be honest the title is one of the things I like about it, actually having a bearing on the events of the game, instead of other games that have poetic titles with little relation to the actual game.

Riddick is a First Person Stealther, with the occasional shooty section. The main point of the game is to get though the levels without alerting the guards to your pressence, and in defience to gaming LAW, it actually does it well. You primarily use darkness to hide yourself, though the guards will find you if you’re not careful. The focus on dark in the first part of the game, is rather interesting, but there’s the problem that often YOU can’t see either. Mildly annoying, but it actually functions as an extention of Riddick’s character.

If you’ve not seen the movies or in fact, this game, Riddick is a chap who has eyes that are incredibly sensitive to light, usually called Eyeshine. To get around he has a pair of SWEET welding Goggles, taking them off gives him the advantage of being able to see in the dark.
Well in the first part of the game you don’t have that. As I said before, annoyance.
After the first chapter of the game, you get said Eyeshine, and I was incredibly impressed about how… right it felt. It was like a part of me (The character, I’m not Vin Diesel no matter how hard I wish) had been put back in the right place, and I was going to kick ass with it.
And you do kick ass with it, it makes sculking in the dark much more fun,  laughing at the guards who can’t see crap.

The main focus in combat is melee weapons. Whilst you do use guns, and use them a lot, whilst you’re a prisoner you obviously haven’t got access to them, so you have to rely on getting shivs. There’s a number of people who can hook you up, though they usually want you do to something for them. The melee combat is a nice change from the “Click to Attack” attitude normally present in FPS’s, Butcher Bay has an intuitive blocking system where you can use the arrow keys to perform different attacks, usually you want the one the enemy isn’t currently blocking. It’s rather akin to a dynamic, bloody version of Scissors Paper Rock.

The people you meet in the Prisons are pretty interesting, though most just want to gamble, complain or kill you.  Sometimes all three if you’re good at pissing people off. It shows off the conversation system, where you can pick your replies, similar to Mass Effect of Fallout. You’re often given multiple ways to complete objectives, and choosing is often difficult.

The game ties in with the 2 other movies, serving as a prequal in a good few respects. Vin Diesel was heavily involved in the movies, and the way he represents Riddick is incredible, a lot like Simon Jones and Arthur Dent (Well.. a few changes).  Video game representations of people weren’t exactly terrific back in those days, but Riddick looks almost exactly like he does in real life, it was refreshing to say the least to see someone in a game who actually looked like the person who was portreying them.

The narrative, although I can’t talk too much about it without revealing some fairly big spoilers, is very nicely done, has a nice prison formule it  switches up occasionally with alien colonies and sci-fi elements, a good ammount of reviews said it was actually most intriging than Pitch Black, which was basically unheard of back then, games were for shooting people.

There are a couple of Critisms I have though, the game was a bit buggy in places, such as the health station recharge system which didn’t work at ALL, the mech sequences were a bit… unnessisary really. I mean I’m a killing machine, brutal and animalistic, for some reason I’m going to use a Mech. I’LL USE MY BARE HANDS! (Actually did once, it was pretty damned fun)

There’s a new Riddick game as a sequal called Assault on Dark Athena, which takes place on a spaceship. Called Dark Athena. Which you are assaulting. However, because Escape from Butcher Bay was never ported to the Xbox 360, the developers decided to redo Escape from Butcher bay as a part of the game. AWESOME!  I just hope they don’t change too much, ideally I’d want a game with improved graphics, maybe a couple more different options to get from point A to point B, nothing more really.  Course video game law states any remakes must be of equal or lesser value than the originals, but I’m hopeful.

The new Riddick game comes out later this month, here’s to hoping it lives up to the original.

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