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Gaming The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay


Charles
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Despite being unhappy with the OXM demo disc, I've had this game on reserve for quite a long time and picked it up when upon release. I first heard about Riddick when Game Informer broke the story on it back in February and was immediately excited because of the potential it showed. On the other hand, I was skeptical because it's a movie licensed game starring Vin Diesel from an unproven developer.

I couldn't be happier with the end product though. The design of COR is simply unparalleled in a few key aspects. The layout of Butcher Bay for example, is wonderful; it's just so structurally perfect that you [I]feel[/I] like you're navigating through a real prison environment. Each room feels as if it's been designed so carefully that it feels unique. Because the setting is a prison, I expected the environment to repeat itself with recycled textures but that's not the case at all. There are interconnecting vents and ways to use shadow that force you to go into every area with the mentality that you're going to have to use your surroundings to survive.

Which brings me to my next point--the stealth mechanic is executed exceedingly well. It never feels like a gimmick--it's just something you do, it's natural. So many games place a huge emphasis on stealth but despite their efforts, it feels manufactured or cheap. Not so here. Unlike games like Splinter Cell, you're never able to feel too secure in hiding because the guards actually shine flashlights on you and scour the rooms quite well. Due to the lack of the luxury of over-powered weaponry for much of the adventure, you can't always go at them with guns blazing.

The quality continues into the presentation of the product. Excluding some low resolution textures and jaggies, the visuals are gorgeous. As I said, there's great variety in Riddick's world. The character models are impressive in their own right. They look as good, technically, as the fighters in Tao Feng. So, normal mapping allowed Starbreeze to accomplish quite a bit visually while maintaining a solid frame rate.

The sound is impressive because I'm not annoyed by Vin Diesel. His voice acting adds a lot to the atmosphere as do the sound effects echoing throughout the prison. You can eavesdrop on the discourse of prisoners, hear dripping water, and tons of small details. You can't help but to appreciate the game's score also.

I won't go on any longer; I'm not sure how many of you are interested. Initially, I'd only suggest a rental. There's no multiplayer mode and the game lasts around ten hours. But, I think it has a ton of replay and is overall one of the more unique titles I've played. Definitely the best movie-licensed game since Goldeneye.
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[color=teal]The ultimate aim is to escape from prison. I heard that as you progress through the story you gradually learn as to how Riddick acquired his 'shining' ability and other personal stuff. That will be interesting to see, heh.

I think what people look forward to most with COR is the stealthy spin involved. Coherently, Riddick does suit that role since his character is very deviating--he has the ability to see in the dark--and that obviously plays at a huge advantage for us all. But, I can't help but think whether Riddick was purposely used, surely if a brand new character was produced just to fit the role and show off the features that COR has to offer then he'd most likely be classed as a 'rip-off', but none the less, it's good to see that Starbreeze have actually made the game playable rather than attempting to make their sales through name only.

I'd think that any game revolving around a stealth plot hole would completely be limited if narrowed down to first person. COR doesn't go over the top by letting you perform lots of stealthy moves like those in MGS or Splinter Cell, basically you are given exactly what you need to use and what fits the environment, there's no exaggerated hype here. However, when comparing such a game to a more realistic title, say SC, it wouldn't really be a fair judgement. Riddick's character is much more versatile than Sam Fisher or Snake could ever be, he has enhanced attributes, which like I said before, offers much more to gameplay.

Despite COR being based on an entirely fictional story, along with the prequel and sequel, the extent of the realism in game is great. It's minor details, such as small and petty sounds, and glowing red bullet holes to portray heat (which eventually cool off) that add up to set standards for video games in general. For a game that concentrates on at least some action besides all round hiding, I'd like to make a decent comparison of it with SC:PT even though both are in completely different formats, it'll be an interesting view to see them from.[/color]
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At risk of repeating all the praise that's already been said, Riddick is a fantastic game. No doubt about it. Personal taste or not, Riddick is amazing, both in terms of execution, style, engine...everything about it is impeccable.

If I were to use one word to describe Riddick..."immersion."

It's one of the few games ever that totally and utterly immerses you into the environment. From the opening cinematics, to a short gameplay introduction, to the Hollywood-style opening credit sequence that we get to "play," to simply the best damn stealth gameplay we've ever seen in an FPS--stealth gameplay only rivaled by the likes of MGS, and even then, MGS [i]pales[/i] in comparison to Riddick; Riddick's stealth is [i]that[/i] good.

The beauty of Riddick's stealth system comes mainly from the idea that it [i]isn't[/i] a system at all. Forget what's been done in the entire MGS series (3 included)...forget about Splinter Cell...forget about the half-assed "Cover Rating." Those are crap compared to Riddick. Words can't really describe it, really. Like Charles has said, the stealth isn't required in Riddick. It's just something you do. It feels incredibly natural to Duck, get that blue hue to the screen and [i]know[/i] an enemy soldier is approaching, whether from the blue itself or his flashlight. With no HUD at all, something as simple as color becomes gameplay, and because of this, the stealth feels incredibly organic and natural, and the immersive qualities of Riddick shine even brighter than if you were using Eyeshine.

With the lack of HUD, weapon and ammo read-outs become a key design issue, and an issue that Riddick handles damn near flawlessly. Possibly a throwback to the days of Alien Vs Predator, the rifles and pistols have a digital ammo counter instead of the usual Halo-ish "This is how many bullets left in your clip." It's incredibly satisfying to unload a clip into a group of guards and see the digital read-out zip down from 30 to 0.

If I have one criticism of the HUD design, it's the health bars. I wish they had been a bit more organic than what they are now (white blocks at the top left of the screen). That's not to say they're bad or detract from the gameplay, because they only appear when in combat or performing an action, and they blow away every other games' health bar. But I do wish they had been designed more with the eye effect when Ducking.

When talking about the health bars, we cannot ignore how perfect the health regeneration is. There are two ways to restore your health:

One is to find a safe spot and rest for a few minutes so healing nanos can take over.

Two is find a health station. The health station, however, isn't the cheery red and white cross box. The health stations in Riddick look like torture devices. No lie. And there are two types, too. The wall units, which restore the health bars you've lost, and sit-in units, which give you an extra health bar. Think of it like receiving another Energy Tank in Metroid.

While this may seem like it makes the game easy, it doesn't, because the game is unforgiving when it comes to damage. Whether you're involved in a firefight, running from a grenade, or engaged in hand-to-hand combat in a ring in the Mines, you need to watch that health.

The firefights are exceptional, but hand-to-hand combat integration is where Riddick really shines. I'll Edit this post later, or Charles can pick this point up. He and I pretty much can finish each other's sentences about this game, lol.

But yeah. This is an instant buy for those with an Xbox, and reason enough to get an Xbox for those who don't have one.
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Guest Millions_Knives
Penny Arcade gave an intresting revelation on that game a while back... While it's a movie licence game, (which is supposed to suck) it's really living up to the movie's actual potential.

It's mind blowing. but a movie franchise game really outdid itself. Maybe there is hope for other movie based games in the future...

[I]Naaaaah...[/I]

Click [URL=http://penny-arcade.com/view.php3?date=2004-05-31&res=l][COLOR=Blue]here[/COLOR][/URL] for Penny Arcade's comic.
WARNING: 13+ for language and suggestive humor.

And no, Gabe did not really lose... yeah.


Eternal Pain and Suffering,

-Knives
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