2004 Reviews

Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay

  • Review Date: 2009-12
  • Release Date: 2004-06
  • Developer: Starbreeze Studios
  • Rating: 8.0

After so many positive reviews I was really looking for to Butcher Bay. Typically the big-sceen to computer-screen, film to game adaption doesn't work very well. So it's easy to assume it would have been a flop. But in fact it was a very favourably received underdog.

Nevertheless, it was with it's flaws; but perhaps my expectations were too high. Comparing the graphics to other 2004 releases like Doom 3, it wasn't quite as flash. The level design the majority of the time was good, but nothing really stood out. There were few fantastic set pieces. However, there weren't supposed to be. The game takes place entirely in a prison, mostly underground. You fight from the typical bland prison on the surface, to underground caverns, more high secure prisons, guards quarters and more. However, it is slightly disappointing that the entire game takes place in one prison. We never really get a huge variety in gaming environments. Overall, however, the design and graphics definitely live up to 2004 standards.

The gameplay was mostly good, depending on your gameplay preferences. Personally, I'm not one for the Thief style of gameplay. That is, sneaking around in shadows avoiding enemies. I'm also not one for having to complete tedious little tasks to proceed further into the game. EFBB features far too much of this. What I come for is pure action, and probably only 50% of the game features this. The tasks are boring, especially since the parts of the game that require tasks are some of the more bland looking areas.

What action we do get in EFBB, you get limited with just a few different weapons, and probably less than ten enemies to use them on, all with rather poor AI. Not a lot of variety, but it still throws up a decent challenge and fun on the most part.

The other problem wih EFBB is it's short campaign. Although I'm starting to get used to this after Call Of Duty and it's mission pack were both equally as short. Are games becoming shorter because of the extended detail gamers require in every facet of the game? I finished EFBB within one day. In three sittings to be exact, but I could have done it in one sitting.

On the other hand, I'm not sure I'd want another five hours trapsing around Butcher Bay anyway. It would have to at least introduce a new environment.

So overall, despite this sound like a negative review, the game actually was very good. Exceptional design and graphics, although not quite up to Doom 3, not far off it! And decent gameplay when you actually get to fight. Very much recommended. I only regret I didn't play the enhanced version released with Dark Athena.

PS. the game was a nightmare to setup and featured two game stopping crashes. It required an Open GL fix and latest EU patch, along with someone elses save games for me to continue.