I’ve had this game sitting on my shelf for over a year. With the remake coming out, I figured I’d at least throw it in and play for a little bit, and then wait for the remake to actually finish the game. Well, guess what? I got hooked on it. Finally I checked online to see about how far I was, and I was halfway through, so I decided to just finish it (total of four sittings). I don’t think I even need to say that I absolutely loved it.
The good thing is that the game saves all the checkpoints, so you can replay any part you want — so as long as the same is true about the remake, I won’t have to play through the entire game again (not that that would be a bad thing). I’m hoping one of my roommates will get it and beat it, so I can just go back and play my favorite parts, and the new content.
So what’s so great about this game? Well…
This is really what got me hooked. If you couldn’t tell from the subtitle (Escape from Butcher Bay), this game is all about escaping the prison. In the second section of the game, you go around talking to other inmates and collecting items. Eventually you find out who the leader of the prison gang is, acquire a shiv, and go kill him. It’s compelling enough that I would have played an entire game just in that prison section. It really made me want, or even need, to keep playing. In my head I was thinking, “I have to prove I can take him out!” This is the way stories need to be told in games.
Stealth vs. Action vs. Story:
There’s a good mixture of everything in the game. There are multiple points in the game where you lose all your weapons, and must rely on stealth to get through, or you simply advance the story by collecting items and talking to people. This keeps the game interesting, as you’re never doing the same thing for too long.
There’s a pretty long section (The Mines) where all you have is a tranquilizer gun. It has unlimited ammo, so you can shoot out lights with it, and once enemies are tranq’d there’s a lethal move you can perform on them. The section itself is cool in that there are tons of different paths to take (go through the vents, or take the ladder, or stay on the ground, etc.), but it’s also pretty confusing since you don’t really know where you’re going. I was running around in circles (taking different paths) for a while, and had to keep waiting for load screens, just to find myself back where I started! More checkpoints would have been nice, too.
There are side missions you can do to unlock bonus content (concept art, videos). The missions consist of things like, “I need my glasses, go find them and bring them back!” I accepted most of those, and even completed many of the tasks, but didn’t feel like backtracking to actually get the reward. With the Xbox 360 achievements, I’m sure lots of people will be completing all the missions.
The stealth is done really well. Crouching in the shadows makes your vision tint blue to let you know you’re hidden. It works perfectly. The guards have flashlights though, so you can’t get too comfortable.
In a total reversal of most games, you actually have the advantage when it’s pitch black! I’m pretty tired of messing with flashlights in games. In Riddick, you actually want to shoot out all the lights, because your “eyeshine” lets you see everything while the enemies can’t see much at all. Remaining lights are appropriately bright, so you have to shoot them out or switch back to normal vision. It all works really well, and if you do look at a light with eyeshine on, you feel blinded (just like in the movies).
If you don’t have a weapon, you can sometimes do a lethal move. Block, wait for Riddick’s hands to go up, then pull the right trigger. If your opponent has a gun, Riddick will force it up under the opponent’s chin and pull the trigger. Awesome.
Bosses and Ending (no spoilers):
Overall this is a pretty easy game. There were some spots that I got stuck on for a while, mostly because I’m a little too impatient for stealth. I liked how the game didn’t just keep getting harder, and adding new weapons. The game had highs and lows all the way through, instead of building to some climactic boss battle. As I said, some of the stealth was actually the hardest for me, while the bigger enemies towards the end were easy (you get a VERY powerful weapon later on). There was really only one enemy I would call a boss, and it wasn’t hard (but it was fun).
The ending was actually great. You change locations a few times, with cut scenes in between. The last battle is hardly epic, but like the rest of the game, still fun. I only wish you actually got to “control the final moment,”* instead of watching a cut scene of it.
* Vague so people don’t complain about spoilers.
I watched The Chronicles of Riddick the day after I beat the game (I had already seen Pitch Black), and you know what? I liked it. The critics hated it, but a lot of people love it. Maybe part of it was due to having just completed the game, and being in that mindset, but I thought it was fun. There were some parts of the movie that reminded me of the game, like when Riddick says, “You’re not afraid of the dark, are you?” A lot of it was pretty over the top, but hey, it’s a sci-fi movie! I do wonder what was cut out of the theatrical release (15 minutes was cut), and if it made the movie too confusing.
If you liked the game, and you like sci-fi movies, go watch it! You might like it more than the critics. If you’ve played the game and seen the movie, what did you think of it? If you liked it, would you have liked it even if you hadn’t played the game?