Riddick is back and he is badder than ever.
Yup, everyone’s favorite futuristic escaped convict will once again be showing up on gaming consoles around the world in Atari’s The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena.
This demo, produced by Starbreeze Studios, is a preview of the sequel to the previous Riddick game called Escape From Butcher Bay.
Though not everyone enjoyed the movie, I have a feeling that a lot of people are going to enjoy this bloody game (which blurs the line between stealth and FPS gameplay) even with the lackluster Vin Diesel voiceovers.
The Dark Athena demo jumps right into the storyline, so I recommend reading up on your Riddick beforehand. Here is the long and short of the plot: Riddick finds himself upon a shipped called the Dark Athena. When the ship’s captain, Revas, finds out that the fabled convict is aboard her ship, she quickly orders her soldiers to hunt him down. From there, you must guide Riddick through the dangerous craft using nothing but your stealth skills, wit and awesome weapons.
One of the first things I noticed about Dark Athena were the very impressive graphics.
Still, even with the great graphics, the very dark shadows along with the mostly black enemy character models led to frustration. Riddick does have a sort of night vision capabilities, but I often found that to be more distracting than helpful.
Controls will initially be confusing for new players, especially for those who are used to playing Call of Duty titles. Switching weapons will always seem to be a chore and some attacks seemed to be a bit longwinded. Attacking is very easy; just toggle the right trigger. Reloading is B and crouch is X. Everything else gets a bit more complicated. In short, Dark Athena needs more than a loading screen to explain the buttons and controls of the game, so hopefully the full title does a better job.
When it comes to features, one thing that really stood out to me was the Drone Control. This is an excellent aspect where you can take full, first person control of the robot-like Drone soldiers. Each Drone is equipped with a fully automatic rifle and decent health. After one of your Drones is killed, you can take control of another one rather quickly, so don’t be afraid to run your soldier into a messy situation.
Another interesting characteristic of this demo was how unobvious the objectives were. This could be a very good thing or a very bad thing, depending on the kind of gamer you are. If you are the type who likes to quickly knock out achievements, I would call this part of the game quite frustrating. However, if you like a good challenge in your video game experience, Dark Athena will probably be a pretty pleasurable experience for you.
For those who have experience in the previous Riddick title, The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, you probably have noticed that this hands-on reminds you quite a bit about it. It is true, most of the gameplay hasn’t changed much from the original game. From what I can tell, the only significant differences between Dark Athena and Butcher Bay are the improved graphics and character animations.
If you do plan on downloading this demo (and I do recommend that you do), be sure to determine if you want to use the stealth abilities or just go out and kill some people. If you would rather take the more homicidal route, be sure to turn the difficult settings of the demo WAY down. It will be nearly impossible to take on your gun slinging enemies, especially during the early goings of the demo when you are only equipped with shivs. If you want to take the slower, more traditional route, feel free to play on a harder setting.
Though playing the actual demo was quite fun, I would almost consider the opening video (viewable by staying idle at the starting screen) to be a much better preview of the game, giving players a better appreciation of the enhanced graphics and animations.
Go ahead and download this demo. To some, it may be an acquired taste. To others, it will be a nice little bit of nostalgia. But, for most, it’s going to be a fun ride.