Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena

August 13, 2009 at 1:31 am | Posted in Reviews, Xbox 360 Reviews | Leave a comment
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Now heres a game I personally was expecting a lot from. After being a big fan of the film Pitch Black, neither loved nor hated the movie Chronicles of Riddick, and having a sneak go on the demo before release, I was eager to get into the game and get stuck into Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena (AOTA from now on)

Unfortunately me and the game got off on the wrong foot from the start. From uploading the game, I was then brought to decide what game to play. Having not realised before. AOTD includes a completely remastered version of the Xbox title ‘Escape from Butchers Bay’ whilst back when Escape first game out, I was interested in playing it, here my heart began to sink. Having two entire games on one disc only means one thing. Half the amount of game time.

Regardless, after putting about 2-3 hours into Escape, things weren’t looking too hot. And I decided to begin with AODA.

Assault on Dark Athena takes place after Butchers Bay and before Pitch Black; the game throws Riddick onto a Pirate Ship. Riddick finds himself needing to travel deeper into the ship after discovering a familiar face is Captain of the ship and sets out to get to her before her and her ‘mercenaries’ get to him. Which he has quite a tasty price tag laying over his head I may add.

Game play is similar to that of The Darkness, with a definite similar vibe; the game revolves around stealth and combat with the occasional chit chat with strangers to gain new objectives and tasks.

The games combat mixes melee weapons with gunfights, aswell as the stealth sneaking aspect. Whilst it does each one fairly well. It doesn’t do so well in telling you what you should be doing. Frequently after getting settled into performing some stealth actions and kills, ill be thrown into gunfights after just turning a corner in which will take me about 2 health blocks just to get back to safety.

One tiny problem with melee combat is the fact whilst the game tries to immerse you in Riddicks character by seeing through his eyes, this means your head and ultimately your sight is affected whilst fighting with your fists. Meaning if you were to run towards an enemy and god forbid you missed a bunch, you’d have to endure a rather messy visual of flailing limbs until your combo has finished and ultimately failed. Which often, along with the stealth aspect of gaming makes you wonder whether this game would play out 10 times better perhaps in a Third Person Setting. You’ll sometimes find your combo gratefully gets cut short due to your enemy cracking you a few times round your chops, stunning Riddick, though usually after that, you’ll have to start running.

Despite Riddicks ultimate hard-ass vibe he gives off, you’ll find more resistance in a sleeping chinchilla when it comes to combat and Riddicks ability to take a few hits for the team. Just a few punches is all it really takes for you to be flat on your face and back at the last checkpoint. This sadly leaves you with often resorting to a tactic which you wouldn’t usually brag about to your friends. Usually known as the punch and run. It’s not a hard one to grasp. Finds you throwing your punches only to bolt it in the other direction until your health regenerates or worse, you’ve found your balls to carry on fighting.

Visually the game has that definite HD shine throughout; its just such a shame the game is almost entirely grey or black throughout. If I wanted grey I’d stand outside staring at my driveway. When in sneak mode, the screen turns blue to show you’re hidden, add this colour filter to an already grey and black setting and you have yourself an almost impossible setting to see through. Making it difficult to tell what’s actually keeping you in the darkness and what isn’t. Add this to your ‘night vision’ with a purple filter and you might as well just give up on stealth altogether as yet again you’ll find yourself being unable to differentiate from the light and the darkness. This will often make stealth painfully annoying and being caught unavoidable.

Whilst the sound isn’t mind-warpingly enthralling to listen to, Vin Diesel’s slurred, raspy conversations with characters will well assure you the stops were pulled to ensure the game kept the sense of immersion that would be needed to take on the role of such a character, yet something still bugs the fact that this game still isn’t as great as it could have been.

Because the game features both Assault and Escape this means the game your expecting is going to be significantly halved, which isn’t bad if you never played or owned Escape from Butcher Bay but is surely going to firmly place itself in the bad books of previous owners who were expecting a bigger more rewarding journey with everyone’s loveable moody ol’ sod.

A game with a lot to love up to due to the story progression and more obviously, the Vin Diesel name tag, but if more imagination into the settings, perhaps a little less repetition and bland grey areas this game could have lived up to Starsbreeze Studios previous FPS title The Darkness.

6.8

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