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The Fun Parts
The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena still looks better than many titles being released this year, despite the age of the original portion of this video game, Escape from Butcher Bay. Assault on Athena has a nice balance between stealth, platforming, adventure and action game play that still ramps up the entertainment and works brilliantly to create an atmosphere of danger that will make you jump a the slightest sound.
The world created for you to play in has an amazing variety of tasks that keep you alive in the toughest prison in the galaxy during Escape from Butcher Bay. It then throws you into the lonely existence of surviving against daunting odds in the dark corners of a spaceship traveling through the dark recesses of the unknown. The atmosphere created is amazingly thick and meaty fare that fills you up and keeps you coming back for more action as the deadliest killer in the galaxy comes calling.
Assault on Dark Athena constantly adds new jaw-dropping ideas into the content-mix, keeps things fresh by constantly changing the actions you're undertaking, and keeping you planted on the edge of your seat as you try to anticipate what's next. Find out more in this Chronicles of Riddick Assault on Dark Athena review.
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The Bad Parts
Escape from Butcher Bay has obviously been re-worked a bit but they missed a few scenes in the original game where the lip-syncing is off a bit and some occasional broken loading screens that they didn't fix. Not a deal breaker but, more attention to detail was needed.
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The Game Graphics
Escape from Butcher Bay still looks great after a few years, especially with the new coat of paint it has been given to spruce up the effects and give it a more modern dark-prison look. Assault on Athena throws you into the dark corridors of the spaceship Athena as you fight to survive on a ship crewed by ruthless mercenaries and deadly drones. The ship board environments are even more immersive than the original Butcher Bay and provide plenty of opportunity to keep the energy and adrenalin flowing.
The weapons all have individual visual designs that are wonderfully engaging and make using each weapon a lot more fun, especially Riddick's new curved Ulak blades. They give you the option for a melee slice and dice that really grabs the eyes. The battle effects are amazing to see as each weapon is unique and has its own effect; the new SMG works efficiently, but the SCAR gun allows you to shoot five mines and then detonate them in an amazing visual display. Crysis and Unreal Tournament 3...eat your heart out.
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Sounds in the Game
The sound track for Escape from Butcher Bay is intact and they stayed consistent by including a sound track with Assault on Athena that's every bit as good as the original's. Both sound tracks are nice sounding and entertaining audible feasts that are as entertaining and immersive as a movie production's, with tracks that set the various moods required very well and help to keep the pace and atmosphere at various points during the narrative. The game's soundtrack is as dark and brooding as Mass Effect's soundtrack was as emotional and intense.
The audible clues provided help to keep you on the edge of your seat as you move about the shadowy and dark environments re-working prison politics in your favor or staying out of the searching beam of a light while ascending a towering wall. The sound effects of your weapons, the sounds of your dying victim, the screams of the condemned, all immerse you in a world of harsh realities and limited choices.
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The Story Line
In Escape from Butcher Bay you play Riddick, the deadliest killer in the galaxy and a man hunted by all as you survive in the toughest prison in the galaxy and plan your escape. You will stay in the shadows as you manipulate events and the prison system in your favor, upsetting the status quo, eliminating fellow inmates, as you slowly work toward your goal of proving you're the baddest dude in the place, and of course setting up your eventual escape.
In Assault on Dark Athena we pick the story up right where Escape from Butcher Bay leaves off, with Riddick's escaping ship being drawn toward the dark and ominous spaceship, Dark Athena, by a tractor beam. You enter the dark corridors of Captain Revas's spaceship, meeting Riddick's main antagonist and the first of several welcome (Riddick has been in jail for a while) female characters in the10-plus hours that it will take you to make it through Assault on Dark Athena.
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The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena puts you in atmospheres that keeps you energized and on the edge, while providing game play elements and a variety of choices that makes this game extremely playable. The pacing of both games is outstanding, keeping you involved in the story line, whether you're chatting up prisoners on the ship or lurking in the shadows waiting for a prisoner with something you want to walk by.
The weapon selection can be a little clunky to operate at times in the midst of battle, but melee and gun play are both interactive, engaging, and extremely satisfying to use.
The fully featured multiplayer Pitch Black mode puts Riddick in his environment against five opponents with flashlights, hardly fair to them, but such fun to play. They also include a neat Butcher Bay Riot mode that pits three teams against each other in a battle over a power cell. There are also your traditional deathmatch and capture the flag modes, as well as close quarters arena battles.
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The Final Word
The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena is a nice breath of fresh air that adds to the entertaining and satisfying adventure game Escape from Butcher Bay with new character models, nice atmospheric lighting effects, and subtle changes that improve the game play. Assault on Athena is a direct sequel that keeps the conceptual basis and atmosphere of the original game, yet shows growth in level designs and game pacing that improve the experience. Throw in a narrative that I found even better than the original script of Pitch Black, and The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena sets the stage for editions of franchise that shows signs of being one of the most interesting in the business.