The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena

Butcher Bay, the galaxy’s toughest prison. No one escapes from Butcher Bay, except Riddick of course. Sneak, punch and shoot your way out of Butcher Bay and straight into the mercenary ship Dark Athena. Bad things are happening on the Dark Athena and the crew is out to get you. More sneaking and brute forcing your way around the ship.

Release Date

April 2009.

Pros

The speech is top notch and of course there is Vin Diesel reprising his role as Riddick.

Head movement is simulated realistically much like Dark Messiah of Might and Magic. The view changes to third-person view for some things though, so not all of the game shows the nice head movement. The movement during hand-to-hand combat looks brilliant though.

Everything in the game sounds excellent. There are also plenty of ambient sounds that gives the game a very good atmosphere. My Logitech G35 picks up the surround sound from the game and it sounds great. I would say as good as S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl.

Excellent graphics. Everything looks great in the game.

There are some very good built in smarts for your character Riddick. As you turn a corner or hide behind cover, he is smart enough to move the gun to the side or above the obstacle so that you can still get a clear shot. He can also climb boxes, edges, ladders and railings.

The cutscenes are very well done. This combined with all the other great stuff in the gives the game a great atmosphere and makes it feel like you are playing in a movie. Much better than Quake 4 even.

The package includes a remake of Escape from Butcher Bay as well as Assault on Dark Athena. Having never played Escape from Butcher Bay before, it sure feels like I got two games in one.

There are guns and shooting, but that is not all. You also fight hand-to-hand with bare hands or pick from a selection of weapons. To add some icing to the cake, you can pull off special moves which look very impressive.

The story is excellent. Escape from Butcher Bay also tells of how Mr. Riddick got his fancy eyes.

There is some sort of adaptive difficulty adjuster. It does not change from Hard to Normal or easy, but I noticed that when I die and reload often enough, my health goes up. This only happens when your health is not full.

The game really rewards you for thinking like Riddick. Both Butcher Bay and Dark Athena are stealth focused. Even though there are sections where you must brute force your way through, most of the time there is an alternative way of getting through quite easily. This is most evident when playing the game on hard difficulty.

Cons

There is no volume control for sound! Sure this is only a minor con, but why are they missing such a simple thing? I am grateful that they have volume for music though.

The game has great cutscenes to progress the story, but you cannot review earlier cutscenes without loading an earlier checkpoint and playing through until you get to the cutscene point. Another annoying thing about not have save game functionality.

For some strange unknown reason, the game will randomly turn off Decals setting for the graphics. You can turn them back on, but it gets annoying. It seems to be related to blood/gore automatically turning off as well. There is a solution outlined here, but I have not tried it.

Other Points

As expected, the game is very violent and gory. I have not seen any dismemberment like Soldier of Fortune II, but you do see from first-person view, breaking someone’s neck and stabbing a person in the eye.

There is also a lot of bad language. It is expected for this game and fits well. I find it strange that there is an option to turn off gore, but not to turn off profanity. I am not sure how many people would want to turn off gore and want to keep the profanity.

The game is definitely a first-person shooter even though it does show some parts in third-person.

There is dynamic music in the game and it does transition nicely, but I did not find it that impacting.

In general the game is quite linear, but there are sections where you have to run back and forths a bit and there are parts where you can take alternate paths.

The AI is smart enough to make the game fun, but is not the smartest in the world. Probably a good thing it is not too smart, or the game would get very difficult.

There is no save game functionality. You must pass checkpoints to save your game progress. So, if you hit a difficult spot there will be a lot of doing the same thing over and over until you can get to the next checkpoint. Fortunately the game reloads the last checkpoint automatically when you die.

Biases

Reviewed GOG.com version of game.

I watched the movie Pitch Black many years ago. Apart from some guy wearing shades and can see in the dark, I do not remember anything about the movie. I do remember that I did not enjoy the movie. I will have to watch it again after completing the game.

I have completed Escape From Butcher Bay on hard difficulty and completed Assault on Dark Athena on easy. I played through Dark Athena on hard, but just could not finish the final battle on hard.

I really liked Serious Sam, all the Doom games, Quake 4 and Quake 2.

I also really liked Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, SWAT 4, Red Faction, Bioshock, Alien Vs Predator, Soldier of Fortune 2, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky, Rainbow Six, Rogue Spear and Call Of Duty 4.

I also liked Red Faction 2, Painkiller Overdose and Star Wars Battlefront 2.

I also liked Battlefield 1942, Delta Force and Spec Ops 2.

DRM

The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena is available DRM free from GOG.com.

Minimum Requirements (as stated on GOG.com)

  • Windows XP/Windows Vista/Windows 7
  • Processor: Intel Pentium D 805 or AMD Athlon X2 +3800
  • RAM: 1 GB Windows XP / 2 GB Windows Vista
  • Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT or NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra or better
  • Sound: DirectX 9.0c-compatible
  • Hard Drive Space: 11 GB

Computer Played On

  • Windows 7 64 bit.
  • Intel Core i5 2.3GHz
  • 4Gb RAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 525M 1Gb RAM
  • Conexant SmartAudio with egg speakers or earphones. Or Logitech G35.
  • Graphics settings are set to whatever I feel comfortable with playing on this PC. They are usually not set to the highest settings. All screenshots are taken with my settings.

Handy Tips

When playing through one of the games, do not change the difficulty part way. At one point I changed the difficulty to normal to explore and reloaded the checkpoint and set it back to hard again to play through. At the end of the game, I did not get the accomplishment of completed the game with either normal or hard difficulty. Time to play through again.

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