All about the details...
Now lets get serious:
What is the thing that comes up first when you think of a game ? Is it the gameplay...the graphics...the sound...storytelling...voiceacting. There are games which actually have one of these important aspects shine. The Chronicles of Riddick however manages to get all of these to a extremely high standart - a rare achievement but not without flaws.
The first important thing to mention is the storytelling. Instead of a transition of a film to a game - in this case the developers had to create a world which adds to an existing mythology. They did and incredible job connecting the two movies (Pitch Black & The Chronicles of Riddick) by providing a separate, intriguing story with a few twists which adds to the story ark and still leaves enough to make you run to rent the movie after playing the game. Dark, brutal and cinycal - this is the world of Richard B. Riddick.
Graphics of the game are stunning, the attention towards details is overwhelming. Gunfire creates melt bullet holes which turn cold after seconds, bodyarmor looks tough and intimidating and the walls are darkened by layers of spilt con blood. This comes with a price though: in 2010 some older machines will still need some help to utilize all eye-candy enhancements at higher resolutions.
The use of the engine is also to be complemented. No indications on screen about health, ammo or anything unless needed. In fights some icons do appear but they do not obscure the screen, or hide important details from the scenery. The stealth - this incredible aspect of Riddicks personality is achieved by the simplest of effects: the screen is blue - you are safe, when returned to normal colors - someone sees you. Also the fact that in first persone perspective one can see Riddicks feet is a nice touch adding to the feel of being truly inside this cold killers head.
Sounds and voiceacting do not disapoint either. Vin Diesel, Xzibit and Cole Hauser provide their voices for the game which makes it very authentic. The deep voice of Riddick making those cold blooded remarks, or humor just on the edge of a verbal offence are a treat to the ears. Gunfire sounds solid, machinery is never too loud, and the inmates mature curses are just about right. Again the spectacular attention towards details is shown.
The use of achievements through the game is represented by collecting boxes of cigarettes - which unlock extra content, and just the desire to see the next gritty message or picture on the box makes you peek over the next corner.
The final positive point to make is the character of Riddick in the game. A complete copy of the character portrayed in the movies the virtual copy of Riddick moves, talkes and kills with the same brutal efficiency. Whether sneaking to break a neck, sticking a chiv into someones eye, or gunfiring a shotgun the character is built perfectly. The eyeshine feature is present in the game adding some strategical elements - to run and gun or sneak and kill.
The higher the quality of the product the more strict will people become regarding mistakes and flaws. The first important criticism to make towards the game is to some extend the use of sneak mode. It is very difficult to pass how one can bump into a guard from behind while in sneak mode and the guard not so even blink at the players direction but the same guard is able to spot you from 20 metres if you are not completely hidden or you pass through a light area not as fast as you should.
Regarding killing one might be slightly disapointed that some of the ultra spectacular moves of Riddick with his blades are not present. The lack of any proper blades is also part of the problem. You can kill a guard from behind, point his own rifle to himself but not have option to slice his throat from one of your dark hideouts.
Compared to the level of graphical detail to all aspects of the game - characters, enviroment, movement - the lip sinchronization is ridiculous. The lips are moving to resemble the speach pattern to fail poorly leaving a most obvious problem in the face of the otherwise stunned by the graphics gamer.
There are a couple of time where obvious bugs can cause your game progress to be halted slightly - a guard who should be looking away at equalised intervals tries but fails to do so for example. When you add also a couple of Riddicks pushing himself from a invisible ledge 10-15 centimetres above the actual ones or fingers which should have been snapped by the closing hatches but they miraculously did not and it gets too much.
A game which offers so incredible detail towards interaction with enviroment leaves some aspects of the interaction completely out. One can kick the lid of a ventilation shaft 3 feet from the guard and he will not see neither the actual braking nor the left lid on the ground. While on other occasions the realism is surprisingly real (guards being very angry shoot at you if you come too close) these things look unfinished.
Despite some of its flaws holding it back from being a truly ultimate experience, this game is a technical and art achievement. With the great attention towards details, careful positioning within a franchise and intricate gameplay this game should be recommended to both players and developers as an example of a game masterpiece