Chronicles of Riddick: EFBB appeared on the Xbox a
few months back and received positve feedback from
the gaming community. Simply put, Starbreeze took
us by surprise by releasing a smart well designed
FPS that broke convention and just happened to star
Vin Deisel and was based on the cult movie Pitch Black
released in 1999. Could anyone have predicted this
game would be worth playing? Sometimes life is like
of Riddick the movie released this past summer has
little to nothing do with Escape From Butcher's Bay
aside from the main character and thats a blessing
in disguise. This game is essentially a prequel to
Pitch Black which introduced Riddick's ati-hero qualites
and thus gamers unfamiliar with the subject matter
won't be missing out. In fact, it sets up the events
of Pitch Black to an extent and thus will act as a
springboard to a new fanbase.
Director's Cut of the game is equally as brilliantly
executed and for the first time perhaps EVER, actually
lives up to it's promise of being a Director's Cut.
Fans of the Xbox game will find there is a lot to
like during their return to Butcher's Bay, especially
if they have the horsepower to run the stunning visuals
at warp speed.
the game plays identically to its console counterpart,
it's the extras that will get Riddick fans excited.
Included in this cut are enhanced visuals, new enemies,
a new level and a commentary track which can be unlocked.
All of the extras are worthy, but it's the commentary
track which blew me away. It's absolutely revolutionary
and it works wonderfully. As you wander the areas
of Butcher's Bay, the developers will provide you
with details, anecdotes and maybe even reveal some
secrets of the game. You will definitely see this
feature again in future games. Absolutely brilliant
and would be worth the price of admission alone even
if that were the only enhancement.
took some chances when it made the decision to remove
the typical heads up display (HUD) in favor of allowing
subtle details to remind you of health, stealth and
taking damage. This uncoventional approach allows
the gamer to further involve himself within the confines
of the games reality. For example, if Riddick crouches
in dark areas he will be in stealth mode and the screen
will turn a hue of blue or if he is taking damage,
a flicker of white bars will appear - but only when
the impact is felt.
located in Butcher's Bay are not plentiful and in
fact, some can't even be used thanks to a DNA feature
on guards weapons which will shock anyone if they
pick it up. Of course there are ways around these
unfortunate predicaments at times... Riddick can also
rely on his fists which can get him out of tight situations.
The first person fisticuffs scenario has been done
before (Namco's Breakdown) but never to this extent
of success. Beating down guards with a flurry of punches
is extremely satisfying and some challenge-hungry
players might like to see how far they can get with
their knuckles. The barefist fighting is quite detailed
and combos can be executed depending on directional
moves. You'll even be able to pull off countermoves
which will catch you by surprise, so I don't want
to ruin it here.
keep the game cemented in its own universe, Riddick
can interact with dozens of inmates, each with their
own unique stories, objectives, look and voice. It
will be entirely up to the player to chose whether
Riddick wants to take on these side quests then, later
or never (replay value!) and their inclusion only
adds to the illusion that Butcher's Bay is a living,
breathing, dank, hellhole completely separate of Riddick
and his situation. Further to this, the developers
abolished the tradtional linear level mechanic and
instead allows the game to flow freely without resorting
to fancy level splash screens which only result in
the suspension of belief and remind the player that
they are indeed sitting at home playing a game, rather
than fighting their way out of a brutal scenario.
no one would ever accuse me of being a Vin Diesel
fan, I was surprised at how much his overall presence
in this game didn't bother me one ioata. Perhaps it's
because he already plays videogame characters in film
that the juxtaposition works in this digital interactive
format. His tough-talking, no-nonsense Riddick is
the perfect protagonist for a game like this and Diesel
takes the subject matter seriously, rather than mocking
it with Arnold-like catchphrases and oneliners played
for cheap ironic laughs.
3 and Half-Life 2 eye candy buffs should take notice
that there is a new kid in town. The Xbox version
was one of the graphical standouts of 2004 and Starbreeze
manages to up the ante on their personal best with
the visuals in the Director's Cut. You won't find
beautiful lavish outerworlds in Butcher's Bay, but
the dreariness of the prison and the subtle visual
details of the innerworkings within are sure to catch
your eye. As well, the guards, prisoners and Riddick
himself are some of the most realistic looking polygon
characters you'll see this year. The level of detail
in the facial contortions alone are benchmark raising.
voiceacting also works in a way which supports the
entire experience a thousandfold. Diesel's delivery
is perfect for the gaming world and while he carries
the game on the heroes side of things, all of the
other actors are equally as impressive. The episodic
soundtrack appears when things heat up onscreen but
back off during quiet moments and while it works better
this way, it's almost too bad because the music is
definitely worth listening to.
modes are selectable and you'll be overjoyed to find
out that while the hardest difficulty provides a challenge,
it's not Halo 2 on Legendary - which means it's accessible
to most gamers to enjoy once they've been through
the game once or twice.
there are some issues to knock, a package like this
which truly stands on it's own two legs is hard to
fault. The lack of multiplayer will annoy certain
gamers but since Starbreeze spent so much time delivering
a game that will revolutionize the FPS genre (and
I believe it will) they can be forgiven for not including
a half-assed multiplayer game. Another issue is the
sheer horsepower you'll need to get this baby working
to your liking. If you've read the minimum requirements
and are going to take a chance, just don't bother.
Minimum requirements should be outlawed from PC boxes.
They're a joke.
you've got here is a game that doesn't have a lot
of high impact hype surrounding it, but it's just
as good, if not better, than most FPS shooters available.
Doom 3 can't even touch the class that exudes from
this Director's Cut. If you have a PC that can handle
it - even the high end ones might experience a hiccup
in framerate or two - then I demand that you play
it, even if you've played the Xbox version. Hats off
to Diesel himself who had a hand in the development
and to Starbreeze who are destined to create great
things to come.