[2 Minute Review] The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena

Does hope really begin in the dark?

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DO: You are Riddick, a man with a very high opinion of himself. For some reason, however, he keeps getting caught. He likes the shadows and is willing to stab the occasional obstacle in the head.

TYPE: Stealth/Shooter hybrid

PLATFORM: Xbox 360 (reviewed here), PS3 and PC

PRICE: $60

MEAT: There are essentially two games here. First, there’s a remake of the popular Xbox One game, Escape from Butcher Bay, where you control Riddick as he tries to break out of prison. Having broken out of prison, he finds himself a prisoner of sorts on the Dark Athena, a mammoth space ship. The second game chronicles your attempt to escape once again.

Escape from Butcher Bay concentrates on more of the stealth aspects of the game while Dark Athena is shooter heavy. Butcher Bay has some almost-RPG elements as you can complete missions for fellow prisoners (which basically boils down to punching people in the face) as you try to figure out a way to escape. The hand-to-hand combat is quite satisfying. The sneaking around has its issues and the shooting isn’t perfect. But for the most part, when it’s sticking to one or the other, it’s a heck of a game.

Both games have their problems, I’m not going to gloss over them. As I said, stealth isn’t perfect. If I’m hidden, let me stay hidden. If I’m caught, but can get away, let me have the freedom to move around without being spotted from across the room. The PITCH BLACK room. There are swear-off-gaming-forever moments of frustration. There are also exhilarating did-I-just-do-that? moments that make you forget the aforementioned downers.

It’s a balancing act, but in the end I enjoyed Riddick.

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PERKS: Stealth kills are crunchy and will bring a smile to your face, whether you’re beating someone down with the “Peacemaker” or your stabbing them in the head with a screwdriver, it never gets old.

SCREAMS: That it would make up its mind! Either be a shooter or a stealth game, but don’t force me to do a shooter set-piece when all I want to do is hide until the badmen go away. The shooting is well done and fun. So is the stealth. But the whole is not greater than the sum of the parts. Stick to one thing and do it well.

VERDICT: Buy. I struggled with this one. After some of the frustrating moments, I would have said “Rent”. I would have said that it’s not worth the effort. Even after beating the final enemy, I wasn’t convinced. But looking back, taken all together, there is a really fun game here. It’s not a strong, 100% Buy recommendation, but I still feel confident that most buttonmashers will enjoy it.

First Impressions (Riddick and Sacred 2)

I’ve had a chance to spend a little time with two recent releases on the 360. Here are a few initial impressions. Two Minute Reviews to follow shortly.

Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena

RiddickI usually enjoy a good stealth game. I loved the early Splinter Cell games and am always up for a bit of sneaking around. That being said, Chronicles isn’t doing it for me. At least not yet. So far, I’ve only played the remake of Escape from Butcher Bay, but I’m not feeling it. At times, the sneaking around can be exhilarating. Other times I want to hurl the controller. I’m willing to give it some time, maybe I need a little practice. If it gets too frustrating, I’ll be moving on to Assault on Dark Athena.

Outlook: Shadowy

Sacred 2: Dark Angel

Sacred 2Sacred 2, on the other hand, is an unqualified success for me so far. I compared it to Diablo 2 in the preview, and that’s exactly what has me enthralled. The process is simple: press the lever (mash the button) and receive a tasty treat (loot). Rinse, repeat, and then repeat again.

It’s a little unpolished and the map is pretty poor, but that hardly detracts from the experience. So far, I’ve whiled away six or seven hours. That may not sound like a lot, but each time I’ve had to force myself to turn off the 360. As I’m typing this, I wish I was home so I could fire it up right now.

Outlook: Quickly leveling up

That’s a short round up. I could go on, but perhaps this would put it more succintly — given the choice, I find myself wanting to play Sacred 2.

Preview – The Chronicles of Riddick: Assualt on Dark Athena [Xbox 360/PS3]

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The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena

Genre: First Person Action
Website: The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Athena
Developer: Starbreeze
Release Date: April 7, 2009
Buy it from Amazon

Here’s the deal: You’re a prisoner. There’s a wallet in your back pocket that would make Jules Winnfield proud. You sneak around a prison, stab and punch your way out while shooting any number of guns at numerous bad guys. You break out. (In fact, you broke out a few years ago. Now the break-out is in HD.) All in a sneaky, shadowy way. Then you eschew the shadows for blazing guns during an the Assault on Dark Athena.

The game has been out for a little while now and has been mostly well received. Yahtzee didn’t hate it, so that’s got to count for something. We’ll have a review coming soon.

You can see a trailer video at the jump. We’ve also posted a set of screen shots over at Flickr.
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