The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena Updated Impressions

Starbreeze and Tigon show off the latest content in this half-remake/half-sequel to the original Vin Diesel-starring game.

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With his pair of sharply curved knives in hand, Riddick stalks the halls of the pirate ship Dark Athena, looking to deal some pain. Creeping through the shadows in a room full of cargo crates, Riddick is hidden yet surrounded by a number of drone soldiers--mindless automatons that patrol the ship and that can be remote-controlled by members of the Dark Athena's crew. Skulking in the shadows, Riddick sneaks up behind an unwitting drone, takes him out, and tries to take his weapon from him. But wait--the gun is attached to the drone's hand. No problem for Riddick; he simply picks up the drone and begins blasting the other enemies to bits with the attached weapon. It's just one of the grimly enjoyable approaches to combat in the upcoming The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, which we had a chance to check out at a recent Atari press event.

Riddick is back for another adventure, and things are about to get messy.

Though the game was initially conceived as a fairly straightforward remake of the classic original Xbox game, The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay, the developers at Tigon Studios and Starbreeze have pushed the project beyond a mere port to include both a remake of the original game and an entirely new chapter in the Riddick storyline, Assault on Dark Athena. Picking up more or less directly after the events in Escape From Butcher Bay, Assault on Dark Athena finds Riddick and his captor, the bounty hunter Johns, onboard the Dark Athena, a pirate craft that's led by a mysterious captain that Riddick might have a history with. After being locked in cryostasis for a good long stretch, Riddick--being the badass that he is--manages to wake himself up and begins stalking the corridors of the Athena, looking to escape.

During the demo, the developers at Starbreeze showed off the trademark multiple gameplay elements that began with the original game and certainly continue here. Stealth is obviously a big part of the fun here, with Riddick sticking to the shadows (complete with the familiar blue tint to the screen when Riddick is concealed), and either sneaking around, or sneaking up on, his enemies. Then there's the wet work with the aforementioned ulaks that Riddick acquires early on in the Dark Athena storyline. They're perfect for making short work of an opponent you've snuck up on, and they seem to be pretty effective even in a face-to-face fight.

But where Dark Athena really shines is with the drones. As mentioned previously, drone soldiers are mostly mindless, zombie-like humanoids that patrol the halls of the ship. In their unoccupied state, they seem to be easy enough to avoid; however, if a drone is being "piloted" remotely, it's a different story. They'll be more alert, and they appear to have quicker reaction times, too. You can capture a drone that you've taken down, but you'll only be able to walk backward while holding up a drone. As a result, if you want to use its attached arm gun and still stay mobile, you'll need to move quickly from one downed drone to the next.

Regardless, the best use of a drone is actually piloting one yourself, which we got to check out in the demo when Riddick made his way into the drone control room. After quickly dispatching of a crew member who was in the process of controlling a drone, Riddick saddled up and took a few for a ride. Although most of Riddick's gameplay is stealthy by nature, controlling a drone feels most closely akin to a run-and-gun first-person shooter. The kicker is that drones are expendable and, as a result, you can charge right in with drone gun blazing. That said, during the mission we watched, there was only a finite amount of drones available to Riddick and, once one went down in a hail of gunfire, Riddick simply fired up the next drone and continued on his way.

Scary enemies and big guns are no match for Riddick's skills.

Given that the demo focused entirely on the new content in the game, we didn't get a chance to re-experience Butcher Bay for the first time on the Xbox 360. What we do know is that, even though the original game is being remade in Dark Athena, game upgrades will touch on all content in the game, both old and new. One example is that AI enemies will use improved team tactics to take you down. That's in addition to the stunning graphical upgrade that the original game is getting, completely remastered audio, and user-interface improvements such as a radial weapon-selection menu. Naturally, Vin Diesel will reprise his role as Riddick, with actress Michelle Forbes (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Battlestar Galactica: Razor, Al Roach: Private Insectigator) taking up the role as the captain of the Dark Athena.

When you add the fact that the content for Escape From Butcher Bay and the Assault on Dark Athena seems to be about the same length, as well as multiplayer features that the company has yet to reveal, it looks like the game will be jam-packed with features. We look forward to peeling back the new pages of Riddick's chronicles in the coming months and will keep you up to date on all of the latest developments until the game's release, due for spring 2009.

Discussion

261 comments
mfa1486
mfa1486

I think I will not see sleep on April 8 with the Games coming on the same day some of those especially after this previews The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena

SpunkyB0B
SpunkyB0B

On a side note, the only real good film to game, games, have been when the game uses the plot/universe but not follow the actual movie. If this game was pitch black of chronicles I can guarantee it would have been sh1t.

SpunkyB0B
SpunkyB0B

Looks awesome, cant wait.. Loved BB played it thru soo many times each time going a diff way (stealth, guns blazing, only melee (where possible)) really good.

XenTreX
XenTreX

@nhalex; EFBB was not a Riddick film. Pitch Black chronicles what happens after the events of EFBB and Dark Athena, while The Chronicles of Riddick film shows us Riddick 5 years after the events of Pitch Black. so, Riddick chronicles in chronological order are: EFBB/Assault on Dark Athena Pitch Black Dark Fury (animated) The Chronicles of Riddick

nhalex
nhalex

I would not hesitate to call Escape From Butcher Bay the best movie-based video game, or even one of the best video games period, that I ever had the honor of playing. I could not be more excited about a sequel (FINALLY!! Only took 5 years!).

Altair40
Altair40

Can't wait especially after i never played the first one

jmartinez1983
jmartinez1983

Nice to see them going back to this game, it always needed to be on Xbox 360! Hopefully we see a full, true sequel in the next year or two.

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

Fantastic!, cant wait for this, as the first one was definately the best Movie - Game tie-in ever made.

poundposer
poundposer

hmm....imagine Vin playing this game or wheelman...kinda hilarious

Oey666
Oey666

Evratto: Escape from BB on the original xbox was nothing short of a blast and a good example that you can make really good games from films.

DoomglooM
DoomglooM

hahahahhahah.....but i hope this game is as good as the last one cept next gen which means it better be better

Duvendor
Duvendor

LMAO...Ravenstyle said: "They need to make Vin D's head bigger, what happened did they sprinkle some pixie dust on it and shrink it."

Ravenstyle
Ravenstyle

They need to make Vin D's head bigger, what happened did they sprinkle some pixie dust on it and shrink it

evratto
evratto

Although I have no confidence at all in this kinda games.... this can become one of the most anticipated of 2009 along with RE5, HAWX, AC7 and final fantasy XIII

KingsterX
KingsterX

Look's pretty good. But you never know....

eyet00th
eyet00th

I played the game before seeing the movies; made the movies much more enjoyable

COD4ME
COD4ME

Some of those Butcher Bay moments are going to be spectacular with the new and improved graphics! :D

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

Exellent!! I cant wait for this, dont get me wrong, im not a fan AT ALL of Movie/Game tie-ins, but the original Riddick was definately the best tie in game ive ever played. I loved the innovative 1st/3rd person perspective changes when climbing, traversing, etc Cant wait

sirvick
sirvick

even if it was only a port of butcher's bay I'd buy it. The new content seems awesome as well. definitely a must buy to fans.

tig1979
tig1979

Although i would have preffered a complete new game this isn't unwelcome, Butcher Bay was a cracking game

shawn7324
shawn7324

No doubt I'll buy this game.

coolblackrain
coolblackrain

well the first game was badass and the film was ok but this is going to be sick. thats all I have to say.

dudu22
dudu22

i hope it´s better than the film. Vin Diesel is awesome!!

Skinfaxi
Skinfaxi

I've been impressed with the studio so far. Butcher Bay was quite good, and any revisit should be nice. I was hoping for a real sequel, but alas, I'll take what I can get.

sethbouldin
sethbouldin

This is a must buy! BB was a great game and this is goingto have SO much content with it: Two full games and a wicked sounding mulitplayer mode, along with the other normal multiplayer modes. Freakin' sweet...

bubbalooga
bubbalooga

this game is now at the top of the "to wait and buy" list, as well as re5 and FFXIII. everyone, this will be hectic cause as stated, vin diesel is doing the voice again. i loved the first one and i cant wait for this!

tntkng
tntkng

looks freakin sweet!!

The_Turbinator
The_Turbinator

Wanna live? Get a shiv! I can't wait to replay the entire game and then play the equal lenght Dark Athena content. This was one of the biggest things I wished for, a continuation of the Butcher Bay story. Thank you !!

Brandon05
Brandon05

Sounds like a fun game. I am waiting to see a video review once available though.

sjorspion
sjorspion

finally, 1 of the best xbox game title ever, comes to 360! :D

Rainbow_Lion
Rainbow_Lion

I missed butcher bay, so this should be a nice surprise for me :D

Finstar
Finstar

bad movie...awesome game...wonder how it holds up....

sbaltys
sbaltys

that second pic looks like a Strog-i-fied space marine

mr0806
mr0806

deef awesome movies and a great game this one can only be better...

aliko
aliko

You've come a long way baby! I hope they really upgraded the Butcher bey content... it was a damn sweet game on a PC... Mmmmmm... maybe I just install it again to remember the good old days...

kvan33
kvan33

First Riddick was amazing. That being said, I would like a full sequel and not just an add on. The Dark Athena part had better be sizable, or this one will be a bargin bin purchase.

evecioul
evecioul

andrew0824 you numpty! its a remake of the original and a sequel all in one so you do get a true sequal but a chance to play the original remastered. best of both worlds lol :D

wildbillisbill
wildbillisbill

I bought the PC version of the game but the install has crashed on the 2nd new machine and on the first one it was not playable either. So, I am excited about this newer effort. Count me in!! Bill

Andrew0824
Andrew0824

Half-remake, half-sequel? Riddick came out years ago. How about a real sequel? I loved that game.

Blood_Diamond
Blood_Diamond

I agree with Dadumb 1, the game was just really well done, the first game i played where all the action was shot from first person and did it well, when throwing a punch the whole camera rocked and the enermys got bruses, let's just wait and see if they add to all of that

DaDumb1
DaDumb1

@JaredTrotterboy: How can anyone not like Butcher Bay? That's just impossible!!!

WizengamotX
WizengamotX

I hope they don't cut the remade version short and focus just on the new content.

billymambo
billymambo

i love Riddick. He is such a great heroe. movie was great game was great and now the legend goes on. i really wait to get it in my hands. fantastic storyline...

Aidoc
Aidoc

The new content is about the same length? Gah, this is going to be one looooooong game.

JaredTrotterboy
JaredTrotterboy

I wasn't too impressed with escape from butcher bay. maybe this'll be better?

Ledoubleu
Ledoubleu

Played orginal Butcher Bay on Xbox and then again on PC. Love the genre, the characters and atmosphere. I hope this lives up to the franchise.

adni2
adni2

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]