The Chronicles of Riddick
You might have heard gossip that this game is shockingly good. It's all true. Come on in and find out why in the first online review.
By Kikizo Staff
As most of you know by now, The Chronicles of Riddick is based on the forthcoming prequel to Pitch Black starring Vin Diesel. Using a first and third person camera combination, you play as moody-ass Riddick as he escapes from Butcher Bay prison. Cue a combination of wily, cunning, stealth, shooting, action, vent-crawling and visceral violence in general. What you may not have heard is that this combination is executed so exceptionally well, that your Xbox is in for one hell of a shock.
One of the most flawlessly executed, enjoyable action adventures we've played in a long while, Riddick offers consistently solid, well-thought out, atmospheric and believable world rules. It's a bit short - we finished it in around seven hours - but it's enjoyable enough to go back simply for the joy of doing it all again - an urge I rarely have unless there is some almighty unlockable bonus.
For a start, Chronicles of Riddick is visually stunning, as evidenced by any of these screenshots, but animation, render distance and framerate are all impeccable too. This is one of those rare titles you simply have to see for its graphical merit alone - but underneath the awesome visuals lies a seriously fantastic videogame.
The fighting mechanics are better than most boxing games - accessible, simplistic, impactful and enjoyable. Pressing a direction with the attack button (R) unleashes a different punch, allowing left, right, left, uppercut, elbow combos to be a satisfying reality - though button bashing will result in broken combos.
More skilled fighters will notice that pressing block at the last moment (L) will grab an opponents hand and allow you to viciously counter attack. If you are in close range and press the attack button at the early point of an enemies melee attack, you actually grab their gun and kill them with it while they're still clutching it in their hapless arms - awesome! This is particularly effective against gun-holding guards, as prison security only lets guards/anyone with their biological frequency in the computer system pick up weapons, thus turning it around on them to shoot off their own head is not only practical, but immensely satisfying. However, sometimes there just aren't enough fights - for example, in the prison recreational area. Bring it on!
My favourite moments in the game include the fantastic pit-fight quest in the prison recreation area, followed by the interior sections where you can shoot out all the lights and use your night vision to stalk the enemy - just don't expect them to be stupid. They carry torches and they're pretty aggressive - although empowered, you can never be complacent.
The game boasts fantastic acting work (of course Diesel's character is predictably one-dimensional, but then he's supposed to be like that), engaging revenge scenarios (including a bastard of a guard played by rapper Xzibit), and enjoyable and highly watchable cut-scenes.
There are a few downsides however. Most notably, backtracking is a little laborious in places, but then, many action adventure titles suffer a similar sacrifice in order to support the structure of the game. I'd say it's about one hour short of a fully filling game, though what is there is utterly flawless. Also, we could have done with a rating system letting you know how well you played, perhaps accessible through the pause menu or displayed after completing the game. Oh, and there's an amusing 'bleeding mouth' graphical bug in there as well!
In terms of extras, there's some really cool stuff on offer here. Collect all the cigarette packets and you unlock prototypes of the game that play and look almost completely different, a great addition. Concept art, trailers, film art and prop shots, etc are all in the mix. You can even smash almost every light in the game and play in complete darkness. Secrets and secret areas are well hidden and don't ever feel daft or too easy. However some kind of unlockable two-player action based on the fantastic fighting engine would have been a good addition, as would a making-of feature.
To wrap things up here, the combat is flawless, the guns fire with ferocity, the acting makes the cut-scenes a time to watch and not press the start button, the sound is good enough to play the game to. The mech robots are harsh and the in-game guard acting adds a lot to the atmosphere (come out here and fight, you bitches!). And perhaps most significantly when you consider the single downside of a certain other recent action adventure title on Xbox, the challenge level is perfect - never unfair, and always testing of your cunning and skill.
All in all, this is a high quality, challenging, consistently well-designed, enjoyable, believable game experience that every single Xbox owner should grab hold of. No question about it.
Riddick sould be considered a big accomplishment for any developer, and the fact that it's possibly the best looking game on Xbox makes it even more so.
Correction relating to companies involved in the game, sent from Tigon Studios: "Tigon Studios were involved in writing dialogue, story and mythology for the game and the Riddick universe. Obviously ADR was performed by Vin, we directed the rendered cinematics, saw and responded to every build of the game, created some characters for the game and provided gameplay feedback throughout the development process.
"The Riddick team at Starbreeze performed amazingly on the development of this game and deserves full credit as developers and co-designers. VUG, and specifically the producer and AP were fully involved in the design and shaping of this game. Tigon were intrinsically involved from the beginning, with Vin providing a lot of input throughout the development, but of course this does not detract from Starbreeze being the developer."
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The Chronicles of Riddick
Direct feed gameplay sequence (640x480, 1.5Mbps)
The Chronicles of Riddick
Direct feed trailer (640x480, 1.5Mbps)