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The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay (Xbox) artwork

The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay (Xbox) review


"The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay successfully ties the game to the movie and beautifully combines elements of almost every genre. Throwing in stealth, shooting, platformer, and adventure elements CoR ties it all gorgeously and makes for a fantastic experience. The pacing and story are top-notch and you truly feel in control as a ruthless Furon trying to escape the trenches of one of the deadliest and toughest prisons in the entire galaxy. "



The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay successfully ties the game to the movie and beautifully combines elements of almost every genre. Throwing in stealth, shooting, platformer, and adventure elements CoR ties it all gorgeously and makes for a fantastic experience. The pacing and story are top-notch and you truly feel in control as a ruthless Furon trying to escape the trenches of one of the deadliest and toughest prisons in the entire galaxy.

Naturally, you play as Richard B. Riddick a wanted convicted who has been captured for the bounty on your life and is beautifully voiced by Vin Diesel. You’ve been taken to Butcher Bay, the prison that no one escapes from. Then again, this prison ahs never try to hold in a man like Riddick, a man so ruthless he can take down twenty soldiers in less then two minutes. Of course, this no normal man, this is Riddick. And it’s his ruthless, revenge-filled, and terrifying personality that draws you immediately into the deep world of one of the creepiest prisons in the galaxy.

Further drawing you deeper into this prison is the lack of any display on the screen. Outside the decrepit path in front of you and any weapons in your hand, your path is blank. The game is played almost entirely from a first-person perspective, except for a few brief moments when it shifts to third person, like climbing boxes and climbing on ladders. However, most of the time you’re in first person either shooting prison guards in the chest, stabbing them from behind, or straight up brawling with other inmates. All deliver a satisfaction in defeating intelligent and vicious opponents, which evade, flank, dodge, block, and attack appropriately and intelligently and give the game a fantastic scope and challenge.

Additionally adding the great scope, pacing, and challenge of the game are the open ended objectives and huge prison that you entrapped in. You’ll constantly decide which way to go or whether to complete that bonus objective. In terms of the split paths, one way will lead to bonuses, while the other delves you further in. However, these turns can also result in different paths to reach the same area. Often the path chosen decides what tactics you’ll use and how you’ll complete the objectives. It’s worth going after the bonus objectives as there are some terrific items hidden, like trailers, artwork, concept designs, and other game related information, which allows you to see what the developers were thinking when they designed the game.

One of the defining aspects of Riddick is your fellow inmates and their unique personalities, which add to the believability of the prison. One such person, “Centurion” is a character who goes shirtless, wears a spiffy top hat, has a southern accent and is the ringmaster of prison fights. Then the game shows diversity by introducing you to “Twotongue”, a character with a strong lisp and a deep involvement with the drug trade. There are visually distinct by changing eyes, hair, and muscles. They all have different voices and different opinions on their lives and why they are in there. You’re sure to spend time getting to know each character and get truly immersed in prison life.

Of course, when you’re actually on the run trying to escape you won’t have to time to talk. You’ll be ruthlessly rampaging through corridors taking down guards with screwdrivers, shotguns, knives, and whatever else you find lying on the ground. The shootouts are tense, exciting, and packed with bullets flying everywhere. Even more tense is creeping through the shadows and snapping the neck of an unexpecting guard. All this courtesy of a mysterious man named Pope Joe who gives you the ability to see in the dark. It helps that unlike most first-person adventures the hand-to-hand combat is implemented excellently. It’s composed of blocking, punching, sneaking, stabbing, and counter-attacking. Inmate battles revolve around blocking and dodging while waiting to punch their faces, stab them, or be patient and time your counter right to slam into the next life. Watching Riddick deliver a blow to an opponent’s face and seeing their distinctive recoil is immensely satisfying, especially when a powerful punch sends them flying to the ground lifeless.

It’s these satisfying gunfights, outstanding hand-to-hand combat, combined with terrific voice acting that give the game a perfect sense of pacing. After each section you’re never sure what to expect, another shooting level, a stealth section, or getting thrown back in prison after getting caught. The game keeps you interested and guessing as to how the story will progress through short and effective cut-scenes. Naturally it helps these cut-scenes that all the voice acting is top notch. The voice cast includes big names like Vin Diesel, Xzibit, Cole Hauser, and Ron Perlman. The only thing detracting from cut-scenes and pacing is the orchestral soundtrack. The soundtrack kicks in randomly, and is too fast-paced during the stealth sequences and too slow during intense fighting moments. That said, the game still ties everything together excellently and is perfectly paced from beginning to end.

The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay is one the best movie to game adaptations in a long time. It takes a great concept and executes its ideas excellently. The story is entertaining and never seems boring, derivative, or illogical. The shooting, stealth, and hand-to-hand combats are equally and immensely satisfying. The A.I. is top-notch and the character depth and uniqueness ups the bar for future shooters and adventure games. Despite the lack of multi-player Riddick is still an outstanding adventure that will entertain you for at least 10-12 hours, and you’ll want to play it more then once. The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay is a terrific adventure that everyone should play.



Rating: 9/10

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Community review by ghostyghost (September 23, 2006)

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