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Review The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay (2004, XBOX360): Flawed but certainly one of the best movie based games. But damn those Xenos!

genre: fps, stealth, action, adventure, science fiction

Normally I stay clear from movie based games but numerous older reviews of the original xbox game convinced me to take a chance that turned out to be a rewarding experience. I played and played then something happened later on that put me off the game somewhat. Keep reading to find out what that is.

It always bothers me slightly if I can't finish games for some reason. Especially if I can't remember the reason why I stopped playing in the first place. When I decided to pick the game up again my original xbox broke down on me. Then time passed and it caught my attention again when I saw that they had included the game on the disc of sequel Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena. And I already got a taste of this sequel in a demo which I really liked. So naturally the next step was for me to buy that disc. A little while ago I finished playing Assault on Dark Athena and decided to play the original from scratch. Again I was taken away by the incredible atmosphere and the addictive gameplay it offered. You can't just waltz into rooms and shoot your way out. No, you have to be smart about it and use the shadows and the darkness to your advantage and approach each map strategically. You guessed it you have to use stealth. As you might know Riddick has this certain ability to see in the dark. It allows him to take down enemies from behind without them noticing unless it's too late. The challenge is that it wasn't always dark enough. Luckily certain lights can be shot making it easier. However don't expect this game to be a cake walk. It's pretty unforgiving the most time. On top of this you can't save anytime you like. This game uses checkpoints. If you are low on health it won't be refilled when reloading. This can make the game even more difficult than it already is. But believe it or not this is what makes the game extra appealing. You have to take your time to figure out how to proceed and especially when it seems impossible it gives a very satisfying feeling. 

Escape from Butcher Bay, really draws you into it's world. It's dark, brutal and the last place you want to be. And how this game toys with you. Just when you thought you were near you get sucked in deeper and deeper. Then it happens. The moment where you think that you are finally there. It introduces a new type of enemy that will seriously annoy the hell out of you. Xenos. Alien creatures that are hungry for meat and very very deadly. Technically you can kill them in one shot with the shotgun that you find. However these creatures keep hopping and spinning around real fast that they always get close to you and once they do you can't shoot them. You have to take a step back and then suddenly it's possible. But this is not the difficult part. Are you ready? These annoying creatures keep respawning. They will keep coming at you until you move forward to a map where they will stop. It dawned on me that these were the levels that annoyed me big time. Because of the annoying enemies but also since stealth was thrown out of the door. From the minute these creatures are introduced Escape from Butcher Bay has become a first person shooter like many others. I was surprised to find out how long I stuck it out with it the first time I played it and almost makes me regret not having finished the game back then. However no matter I finished the game now and have to say that I was very disappointed with how the later chapters removed the elements that made me like the game in the first place. Why remove the option to play it stealthy? Why introduce these horrible creatures that undoubtedly will put people off the game? Why end it like it did?

It almost feels like that the developers of the game rushed the later missions since none of the creativity in the first half of the game can be found. For me fps games without that special element are boring. What made Escape from Butcher Bay stand out was the setting, stealth and Vin Diesel of course. But if you take out those things that make Riddick so special and turn him into a generic hero then that simply makes no sense to me. First the game lets you suck into the events giving you a true interactive cinematic experience to then discard that and make it average. In later levels you get to wield a mini gun (think of that big gun used by Arnie in Predator). It has unlimited ammo. Mind you I was grateful for this since it did make everything so much easier. I have seen videos on youtube of people using other guns making it so much harder for themselves. The only disadvantage of this gun is that your speed is reduced. But since the gun has a long reach that really is a minor issue. Maybe the developers were aware that some players would be tired of the game by now and made it happen so that you could finish it quickly. Only begs the question why not remove the repetitive shootouts and go straight to the final?  

Still I can't be too harsh about this game since for the most part the game is rewarding. As a movie based game this is extraordinary. It's a prime example of how these games should be made (except for the later part of course). If you haven't played this game yet then you should. It's good. Flawed but good.

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