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

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

"Murderers and rapists, women and children, entire families and pets have all been murdered indiscriminately and left with slit throats, broken necks, and bullets through their heads while blood adorns nearby walls with no one to blame. Maybe this could be a testament to the greatness of a skilled bounty hunter. For Riddick, this is just another day at the office. "

Murderers and rapists, women and children, entire families and pets have all been murdered indiscriminately and left with slit throats, broken necks, and bullets through their heads while blood adorns nearby walls with no one to blame. Maybe this could be a testament to the greatness of a skilled bounty hunter. For Riddick, this is just another day at the office.

Riddick is cold and calculating. He hardly speaks to anyone, and when he does it’s in a deep, monotonous voice that doesn’t change be it threat or praise. Vin Diesel takes on the voice acting here, which some may think will take away from the whole experience when it really doesn’t. Diesel does an amazing job capturing the dark, dangerous tone that fuels so much of Riddick’s character, and propels him to a level of depth and intrigue that not many protagonists are able to reach in any genre.

It seems Riddick intrigues everyone else, too, since his reputation as the dirtiest killer of all time precedes him. An unknown amount of ruthless scum has fallen to his calloused killing hands, but somehow a man named John (how original) managed to capture him. After being captured, Riddick was sent to Butcher Bay, the highest security prison in the universe.

One would think this is the end of the line -- a line drawn by cold, concrete walls and dank prison cells where the screams of the condemned can be heard echoing through the musty halls. For Riddick, this is just another predicament for him to wiggle his way out of. From his first-person perspective, he’ll crush prison gang members, rack unsuspecting inmates, toss despicable thug bosses down twenty foot holes and use them to break his fall, reminding them during their last breaths that “it’s not the fall that kills you; it’s the sudden stop at the end.”

Unfortunately for him, this hole leads to the mines. The mines are gloomy, never-ending tunnels full of nothing but other-worldly monstrosities actively exploring its darkest depths for pray. All of this is rendered in illustrious 3D graphics to the point to where you can see each small fissure in the rocks. From action superstar, to survivalist, Riddick must entrust his flares to light the way to freedom in this twisting and turning hellhole. Purple, flesh-eating beasts spawn infinitely and our only hope is to reach safety, which happens to be a fat guy that has a knack for offering deals. Death is failure, and the ambient sounds of creatures scratching and screeching in the unknown only fuels the desire to make it through here to a safer place. Flares soon turn obsolete as we’re imbued with a new power; we’re imbued with the power to see in the dark and become stealthy, almost turning invisible.

TCoR starts off as another first-person shooter, but slowly begins to add so many other enjoyable aspects, it almost becomes a game never seen before. While back in the prison, you’ll have to fight your way up a ladder of matches to become a veritable thug superstar. In a series of deathmatches, you must use any means necessary to kill the opponent. You can beat him to death with your fist, and TCoR actually has fun hand-to-hand combat. Where most FPS allow you just to punch, then run, TCoR allows you to block, uppercut, jab, right/left hook which helping to add in another layer of complexity. Or, while in the fight, you can just expose your hidden weapon and slit the opponent’s neck open, but watch out! If the security cameras or security guards are currently active while you’re carrying a weapon out in the open when not fighting, instant death is soon to follow. TCoR’s checkpoints are so close together that this death isn’t a huge setback; rather, it’s more of a slap on the wrist. This manages to keep the game interesting without constantly having to play for forty minutes to catch up to where you were previously.

TCoR seamlessly integrates multiple gaming styles into one product successfully without all the impromptu tutorials. Never will the game flow be stopped for instructions. Rather, little tips will be given to give us an idea of what to do, but not reveal the mission completely. And the way you take on these obstacles is totally subjective. We can be sneaky, coming from behind and finishing off the unwary enemy or running and gunning the entire time. TCoF gives us the ability to play the game how we want to play it, and both styles work so well that we’ll never feel like we’re missing out on something.

TRoC is truly an unprecedented success. Most games in this genre are so cookie-cutter, so alike and bland, that Riddick is a huge breath of fresh air for both fans of FPS games and those that aren’t. From the multiple ways to tackle most tasks, unbelievable graphics and a stellar combat system, TCoR proves to be one of the best games in a long while for Xbox. One will surely be singing the same tune after a few hours with this title; whether they’re running through the mines for their life or fighting off thugs with bare fists. But hey, that’s just another day at the office.

Sclem's avatar
Community review by Sclem (July 30, 2005)

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