Fans of the show will know that Escape from Butcher Bay was one of my favourite Xbox games so I’ve been looking forward to playing it again on the Xbox 360 and playing its next-gen sequel, Assault on Dark Athena. Well, it’s now emerged from the darkness and despite what some other reviewers think of it, I really like it.
I’ll concentrate on the next-gen title but before I do, it’s fair to sayButcher Bay has aged really well. It look fantastic, it’s acted incredibly well and it’s very atmospheric. Sure it’s a bit clunky at times and the AI’s not great but you’ll have a blast with it none-the-less.
Dark Athena plays identically in terms of controls and you’ll soon be lurking in the shadows and ramming screwdrivers through drone’s necks like a good murderer should. Following on directly from Butcher Bay, your ship is captured by a huge merc ship which harvests people to use as drones. These can be remotely controlled by people in other rooms to create the ultimate soldier. And they’re really creepy, they remind me of Star Trek’s Borg race, only even creepier.
So to begin with it’s the usual skulking in the shadows and avoiding enemies at times, with the addition of being able to use a drone’s gun. Of course, this being attached to his arm you can’t take it with you but later on you get bigger cans you can run about with. Although the FPS portions of the game are very run-of-the-mill, it’s the atmosphere and acting that really pulls this game through and makes you want to play it to the end.
When you meet the prisoners in the ship, it really is a movie-like experience with some compelling characters and one really nasty piece of work you’ll be glad to know you can exact your revenge on later in the game. Riddick’s character model is also superb and of course Mr Diesel provides his sub-bass vocals to great effect. The game’s not long by any means but remember, you get two games for the price of one here. There’s also multiplayer thrown in and by that I do mean it seems like an afterthought. ‘Pitch Black’ is the best mode where everyone must hunt down Riddick as he tries to pick everyone off. Kill him, and it’s your turn to hunt down the mercs with your night vision.
If you loved Butcher Bay on the Xbox then I highly recommend getting this in all its next-gen glory. If, however, you’re after a slick FPS, look elsewhere. I’m in the first camp so it’s getting a short-but-sweet 8 out of 10.