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Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena Review (X360)

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena Review (X360)
Atari
If you are a fan of Vin Diesel’s Riddick character, you will love Assault on Dark Athena. Even if you aren’t already a fan of the character and movies, the two single-player storylines included in this package just might make you change your mind. It is dark and gritty and brutal and really showcases just what makes Richard B. Riddick tick as you try to escape from two of the toughest prisons in the galaxy. Find out all of the details on The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena right here.
Game Details

  • Publisher: Atari
  • Developer: Starbreeze
  • Also On: PS3
  • ESRB Rating: “M” for Mature
  • Genre: FPS
  • Pros: Two great single-player campaigns; nice stealth/action mix; nice graphics with good lighting
  • Cons: Multiplayer only so-so; loading screens

Assault on Dark Athena is actually two single-player games in one plus a multiplayer mode. The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay (one of the best original Xbox games) has been updated and refined along with an all-new adventure, Assault on Dark Athena. Both storylines are about Richard B. Riddick (who is voiced by and looks like Vin Diesel) escaping from the two toughest prisons in the galaxy. The games take place before the events in the movie “Pitch Black” and really flesh out the Riddick character and make you understand how everything fits together. Ever wondered where Riddick got his eye shine? You’ll find out here.

The two single-player adventures take about 6 hours each to beat. Replay value is decent as there are hidden objects to find and the games are good enough you’ll want to play through them at least a couple of times. There are also multiplayer modes available, but they don’t really stand out as the game types are pretty generic and other games have simply done all of this better already. The only truly standout mode is called Pitch Black mode where the map is completely dark and one player is Riddick (with eye shine) and the other players are guards with flashlights looking for him.

Gameplay

Atari
As I said above, Escape from Butcher Bay still stands as one of the best original Xbox games. Even after 5 years, it still holds up well today. Why? Frankly, because it isn’t like every other first-person game out there. It is a first-person-adventure game more than a shooter. Yes, there is shooting, but you are generally better off by sneaking around and avoiding fights as much as possible. When you do have to fight, it is usually better to sneak up on a guard and silently kill them from behind by breaking their neck or slashing their throat. You are free to play the game any way you want, but it doesn’t feel like Riddick to just blast people away with guns. Other elements of the gameplay include talking to people to get information and missions (you are in a prison, after all, and working with other people is the only way to get out) and there are also some sections that let you control an armored mech suit to take out enemies in style. All in all, EFBB is just a perfect mix of action and stealth that is completely satisfying.

Assault on Dark Athena tries to mimic the same formula, but deviates from it a bit in a few key areas that result in a game that isn’t quite as good. The ratio of stealth to action in AoDA is the complete opposite of EFBB and you find yourself in firefights far too often. The essence of Riddick is still there, but the execution and overall feel is a bit more “generic shooter” than Escape from Butcher Bay which was pretty unique.

Ultimately, it comes down to this. On its own, I don’t think Assault on Dark Athena would really hold up in comparison to newer FPS games. But it doesn’t have to stand on its own. It is packaged with Escape from Butcher Bay, and as a pair of games they are as good as anything else out there.

The only real negative thing I would say about the game is that it has to load constantly. Unlike more modern games that stream a level as you play it or load big chunks at a time, this game loads little bits of a level and if you have to go back and forth between sections (one sequence in the middle of EFBB immediately comes to mind) it has to load ridiculously often. The loads are usually quick, particularly if you have the game installed to your HDD, but seeing loading screens so often (or at all) is kind of off putting.

Graphics

Graphically, these games aren’t super stunning but they are definitely nice. Escape from Butcher Bay was a great looking game on the OG Xbox four years ago, and with some HD upgrades and some touching up it still looks good. Just not top of the line good. Assault on Dark Athena benefits from being built from the ground up in HD, and looks better than EFBB, but is still kind of lagging behind the best looking games the Xbox 360 has to offer. There are times where these games will surprise you, though. The lighting is generally very excellent all around, and some character models (in particular Riddick in AoDA) look amazing. The opening scene of AoDA is also really quite impressive (you’ll understand when you see it).

Atari
Sound

The sound is very good overall. The voice acting is extremely well done by all parties involved which really helps make the world feel realistic. The sound effects are perfect and the music is moody and fits the Riddick universe well.

Bottom Line

In the end, The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena is an easy game to recommend. Fans of the franchise will absolutely love it, and the quality of the story and gameplay is enough it just might make fans out of people who didn’t think they liked Riddick that much. For $60 you are getting two remarkably good single-player campaigns along with some decent (if generic) multiplayer, which makes a pretty solid package overall. It looks and sounds great, plays very well, and fleshes out one of the more interesting and unique sci-fi storylines of the last 20 years. Give The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena a rental if you are unsure, but I think most gamers will be happy with a purchase.

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