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Riddick’s Great Escape – (The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay Review)

It’s no secret that video games based on movie franchises usually aren’t that good. For the most part, the games don’t really add much to the franchise and generally serve as more promotional rubbish for the movie. Usually, the games are so awful that they aren’t even worth renting. Reviewers often criticize the genre quite harshly and despise writing about any movie-based title. Does VU Game’s The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay for the Xbox suffer from the same mediocre slapped-together feel of its predecessors?

Developed by Starbreeze in conjunction with Tigon Studios; Escape from Butcher Bay acts as a prequel of sorts to the movies Pitch Black (2000) and The Chronicles of Riddick. You play as the mysterious Richard B. Riddick a violent
murderous sociopath with surgically altered eyes that enable him to see through darkness. In the game, you will meet-up with familiar faces such as the infamous bounty hunter William J. Johns and get to learn the secret behind Riddick’s trademark eye shine. The game truly compliments the movie universe and adds even more depth to the Riddick mystique.

An interesting aspect of the title is its storyline which is based around Riddick’s escape from Butcher Bay, the toughest high security prison in the universe. The story is explained through well choreographed cinematics and captivating voice acting. You won’t be able to put down your joystick as you’ll want to know what happens next.
The graphics in The Chronicles of Riddick are simply jaw dropping. There’s nothing quite like this title on the Xbox, as this is simply the best looking game on the console. We’re at the point in gaming where visuals are almost picturesque; it shouldn’t be long before we’re treated to Pixar-like graphics. But until then, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Not only does this game feature great eye candy, but it also includes some of the best voice acting seen in a video game. The voice talent is phenomenal and includes the likes of Vin Diesel, Cole Hauser, Ron Perlman, Michael Rooker and rapper Xzibit among others. My only complaint in this department would the fact that the audio could be better synced with the characters’ lip movements.

The game, which is rated Mature, isn’t for the faint of heart. The game contains enough violence, gore and coarse language that would put other titles in the genre to shame. This is one title that shouldn’t be played around a younger audience.

This game isn’t your typical first-person shooter either. You won’t have access to any firepower until your DNA’s loaded up into the prisons mainframe, which means you’ll be relying on brute force for the first few hours of the game. The game also features a stealth element that adds some originality to the first-person genre.

The Chronicles of Riddick is a well designed title that will help redefine a movie-based genre that’s been plagued with mediocracy in recent years. The game is simply the best looking first-person shooter on the Xbox and one of the best story driven titles in years. Escape from Butcher Bay is a definitive four out of five star title.

Andre Barriault lives in Dieppe and is co-editor at the gaming website www.XGR.com – Originally published in the Metro Marquee in June 2004

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