Monday, July 1, 2013

VGR Escape from Butcher Bay

You saw him survive a night on a monstrous planet and take over the entire universe.

Surely escaping from a prison is going to be a walk in the park....

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

VGR: The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay
From Starbreeze Studios/Tigon Studios/Vivendi Games
Played on Xbox
Also available on PC, Xbox 360 & PS3

Type Stealth/First Person Shooter
Year 2004

Originally co-developed by the new Tigon Studios and Swedish developer Starbreeze Studios. Tigon was a videogame company founded by none other than Vin Diesel himself in 2002 to explore a more cinematic approach to gam

For those who don't know, Vin Diesel's actually a pretty huge nerd (here's some proofs), despite being so fly~

The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay was actually conceived as a great videogame tie-in made for gamers for once, unlike the many other cheap cash-ins and generic adaptations of summer blockbusters.

It was released shortly before Chronicles of Riddick's theatrical release date.

Closely supervised by Diesel and director David Twohy, it's a prequel to Pitch Black, and was to feature the origin of Riddick's "eyeshine" vision.

The story actually takes place right before the opening of CoR, on the frozen planet, imagined by Riddick via a flashback. The events of the game then depict how Riddick came to end up in the situation he was in at the beginning of Pitch Black.
The most wanted criminal Richard B. Riddick has finally been captured by the bounty hunter William J. Johns.

Johns decided to bring this new convict to Butcher Bay, the deadliest triple-max prison ever built by man in space.

This way he can clear his own tabs with the prison director and get a bonus on Riddick's head. No one's ever escaped from Butcher Bay, this will prove their efficiency and add to its reputation.

Surely Riddick's gonna prove 'em wrong?

As Riddick, your role will be to work up your way through the prison's hierarchy. At first they will throw Riddick amongst the other inmates. You will take on several jobs for them, try to start a prison break.

Riddick will then escape through the complex, into caverns and mines, then they will throw you in a higher-security area.

Then it's time to Escape from Butcher Bay, from the guards' apartments to the administration palace...

The game was mostly inspired by the film Escape from Alcatraz (hence the title), and by the games Half-Life and Splinter Cell by Vin Diesel's demands.

It's a first person shooter with some stealth elements.

Originally Starbreeze wanted to include an entire RPG-like system to the game but thanks to beta testers and Vin Diesel again, they decided to cut that down and only keep a light RPG approach on the quests. Which was a better deal if you ask me.
Basically, it's a huge fairly long game, you wouldn't notice how linear the plot is due to all the things you get to do and explore along the way.
Each time Riddick gets in a new area you can find new people, discuss with them (with a pretty reasonable dialogue tree, with several answers and decisions to make). You can get several quests, some non-necessary sub-quests as well. It goes from collecting moth for some guy to get cigarettes and build your own makeshift shiv.
You work your way through the local "political tree" on each block. And plan your next attempted escape, because Riddick's surely not gonna lay down there for one second.
Thanks to the fantastic art direction, the atmosphere is quite impressive and oppressive. The game not only looks great for 2004 (it didn't age much over this past decade) but it also plays great. 

It's a fairly standard FPS, but with no sluggish or clunky controls.
You start with melee attacks (with your own fists and shivs). Thankfully it controls great, a great amount of work and attention was given to the hand to hand mechanics. It feels great and natural.
Once you will get past the DNA-locked weapons you will be able to use pistols, machine guns and other classic FPS weapons.
Riddick will face all sorts of enemies from prisoners, guards, robotic sentries and even mutated "dwellers" humans that live deep beneath the prison.
Escape from Butcher Bay has a fairly substantial stealth gameplay. Riddick can hid in the shadows when he crouches, where he is stronger and can strike at once at people nearby.
Once Riddick acquires the eyeshine, he will be able to see as clearly in the dark, though beware of the light from that point.
The game uses no "HUD" display on screen to mimic the game's cinematic approach. As to better put you in Riddick's shoes.
Instead the game uses small little white boxes to show you Riddick's health status when hurt.
You can replenish your health at medi-booths from time to time. 
It's a very unique experience. With great characters, great cutscenes and an engaging story. Really, a game like no other.
Some action will take you into a 3rd Person view, but it never detracts much from the game. Like climbing, hanging around, healing yourself, etc.

It has a great personality and Riddick's such a badass.

Speaking of Riddick, not only did Vin Diesel come back to voice his character but he also contributed to the dialogues to ensure a certain quality.

Cole Hauser returned as Johns along the new characters voiced by guests Xzibit and even Ron Perlman!

The music was this time composed by Gustaf Grefberg on this game. He certainly captured the tone of both Pitch Black in the creepiest moments and CoR during the more action-oriented pieces. Great stuff.

The game has lots to play with and explore, you can even try finding all the hidden packs of cigarettes that unlock extras and concept art in the main menu.

Overall, it's easily one of the best tie-in videogames based around a movie franchise I've ever played, hands down.

It's simply a fantastic original game, very creative.

From the awesome opening sequence to the engaging story with a ton of personality.

It was originally an Xbox exclusive, since the studios decided to scrap the PS2 port to retain a certain quality and focus on a single platform. But it was then later released on PC as well.

It's really worth it, you should even give it a look even if you don't like the movies!

A remake was packaged along the 2009 sequel The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena for the Xbox 360 and PS3 - but that one will be for another time. Originally they only planned Dark Athena as an update of Butcher Bay but they ended up making a whole different separate game which they bundley along a port of Butcher Bay for HD systems. It's almost exactly the same game, with higher resolution graphics, more detailed textures and a new AI system shared with Dark Athena.

I give it:
3 / 3 Quacks!

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