Monday, September 2, 2013

VGR Assault on Dark Athena

The new Riddick film is going to be released by the end of this week, in most places 'round the world.

Let's celebrate that with a review of the last Riddick videogame to date!

Don't be afraid of the dark. Be afraid of what's in the dark of these reviews:

VGR: The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena
From Starbreeze Studios/Tigon Studios/Atari 
Played on Xbox 360
Also available on PC & PS3

Type First Person Shooter/Stealth/Action game
Year 2009

The sequel to the 2004 game Escape from Butcher Bay, Assault on Dark Athena went through a troubled development process where it almost was ditched at one point and evolved from a simple remake to a full feature stand-alone videogame.

It all started shortly after the release of Xbox 360.

The original developers wanted to have Butcher Bay available for everyone before moving on with another Riddick game, but since Microsoft had some trouble making the original Xbox game backward compatible for the 360 and would probably never get to it, they decided to port the game to the 360 themselves.

They announced it in 2007 as a remake that would also be finally coming to PS3 along a new "bonus chapter" story called Dark Athena. The game was once more co-developed by Swedish developer Starbreeze and Vin Diesel's company Tigon Studios.

But after the merger between Activision and Blizzard, with no more Vivendi Games, Sierra Entertainment nor Universal Games to publish the game, Dark Athena was dropped off.

Still, looking for a new publisher, they continued working on it through 2008 until Dark Athena was turned into a proper sequel.

Dark Athena was finally picked up by Atari and offered now a remake of Butcher Bay along its all-new sequel campaign.

The story of Assault on Dark Athena picks up right where Butcher Bay left.

Despite making the plot seemingly take place shortly before Chronicles of Riddick, Dark Athena expands on the previous ending and alludes to more adventures.

We find our protagonists Richard B. Riddick and the bounty hunter Johns in cryogenic sleep after escaping from the Butcher Bay prison.

When suddenly the Dark Athena, a gigantic merc spacecraft, captures their escape pod.

They get separated and the mercs want to make some cash with the captured anti-hero.

Riddick will now have to use stealth once more to hide from the guards, mercenaries and even drones.

Once the prison cells reached, Riddick finds the former Captain of the Dark Athena imprisoned.

Along the way Riddicks meets another prisoner named Dacher (voiced by Lance Henriksen!) and reluctantly starts working with him.

Upon finally getting off the Dark Athena, you think all this is over, right?...

Now on planet Aguerra Prime, the adventure is far from the end!

From the shores of the beach to an abandoned city under siege, Riddick now will need to get back on board the Dark Athena and take control of the spaceship to escape this damned place.

Once more, the game is a First Person Shooter. A great blend of action sequences and stealth gameplay.

First thing first, you'll notice how amazing this game looks.

Lengthy development aside, this game still looks great to this day, many years after. Butcher Bay looked amazing as well back on the original Xbox, and for its time Dark Athena still amazes me just the same.

It's a fantastic game, with spectacular visuals.

The controls are pretty simple to get your hands on and are pretty effective. You can hide in the shadows, grab several weapons, control several mechs and whatnot.

It's all very intuitive.

Quick kills are as simply to pull off as getting the hang of the Health system represented by small cubes on screen.

It's all thanks to the remarkable work put on the shadows.

Much better graphics than Butcher Bay, more impressive character models, etc. The whole nine yards!
The emphasis on stealth is less important than it was on Butcher Bay, but still present.
There's also more guns and mêlée weapons, such as Ulaks (Riddick's daggers), some boss fights here and there. 
The voice acting is great and solid. Vin Diesel is back once more as Riddick, probably his best character to date in my eyes. His dark and monotonous voice will send shivers down your spine!

And the new soundtrack composed by Gustaf Grefberg, returning from Butcher Bay, simply completes the whole experience.

These Riddick games simply feel like such amazing stories, even much more mature than the actual film series!

The only real problem lies with the new "improved" AI.

The AI's simply way too smart/efficient, they always end up finding you even though you can try your best hiding in those dark corners.

There's also an all-new mutliplayer mode. It's available up to 12 players.

Actually, I personally never tried much of it, but you had all these usual standard deathmatches/team versus/capture the flag modes.

A bit too generic for my taste.

There also was an "Escape from Butcher Bay" mode, where prisoners try their best to break from the prison and escape the guards. And a more interesting mindless "Pitch Black" mode, a free-for-all in the darkness.

Overall, it's another fantastic Riddick game!

Another greatly recommended experience, for fans of the series or not. If you like some good FPS/stealth games, this should be right up your alley.

Plus, it offers two long and interesting campaigns. One being an enhanced Butcher Bay game, a must play!

Butcher Bay's HD makeover isn't 100% perfect, but it's the best the game's ever looked, and that's saying a lot considering how perfect it already was.

Some lip synching was lost in the process though. Now sporting higher resolution, more detailed textures and the new AI system it shares with Dark Athena. It looks a bit simpler compared to Dark Athena, but it's a great remake otherwise.

I give it:
2.5 / 3 Quacks!

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