I escaped from Butcher Bay!

Phew. Just after a furious finale at the end of Chronicles Of Riddick: Escape From Butcher bay, I’m positively astounded by how impressive a relatively small and previously unheard of studio has managed to create a game that stands out graphically AND gameplay-wise.

You wouldn’t believe me if I told you, but I think Riddick has graphics to match that of FEAR and it came out earlier too! If I do have some complaints, it’s the fact that all characters and locations look a bit too oily [imho] as if there’s no option for matte surfaces in the physics engine. But that’s a minor peeve. Speaking of the physics engine, initially it looks normal but after the first few melee fights and sneaking around, you’ll definitely start to appreiate how tight and seamless the controls are. The moves are pretty authentic, the special moves are worth a mention. Riddick is able to use 5 main kinds of weapons. So you have yours fists [damage can be added with knuckledusters], shivs [rudimentary knives], clubs, guns and occasionally grenades. Players of most FPSs will scoff at the melee weapons and say, once you get guns, why would you need melee at all?

That brings us to the game environment. Butcher bay is THE toughest prison in the galaxy/universe [who knows?]. No one’s ever broken out before and you’re about to make history. As such, you will really start digging the oppressive prison atmosphere as soon as the initial FMVs end. The game plays out largely in sepia-drenched lighting [unless you’re in total darkness of course] and the textures deserve a standing ovation. Very detailed, and very real…that’s also partly due to this thing called normal mapping technology. The AI isn’t actually touted as one of the game’s primary achievements, but it must be said that these guards are NOT stupid. The interactivity is minimal but a absolute delight to interact with. For example, once you get the famous Eyeshine ability, if you have a gun, you can actually shoot out the lights, making the battleground more advantageous to yourself. There’re many context-sensitive actions to allow Riddick to demonstrate his full murderous potential. For example, you can sneak-kill guards from behind by snapping their necks [loudly but quickly or slowly and quietly], slash their throats with a knife, or induce severe head trauma with a club.

More impressive still are the Reversal moves. These are special moves done successfully if time right. The most impressive is easily when a guards tries to butt you to push you away before opening fire, you can force the barrel down his throat and make him shoot himself. You can deflect a punch and immediately slide a shiv into the neck like cutting through a boiled egg. They’re unique, they’re fun and they’re surprisingly easy to pull off. S’cool.

The storymode [there’s only that gameplay option anyway] is quite fun, but I don’t think there’s very much replay value, unless you’re going to play the commentary mode all the way again. The dialogue’s entertaining [sometimes] and all of them are voiced. The music isn’t too intrusive, but has a nasty habit of spiking up suddenly, giving you quite a shock.

Anyway I escaped. Time to get to Ravenholm!


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