Escapism never felt so rewarding.

User Rating: 9 | The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay XBOX
Games that are good and pretty short suffer from seeming more brief than they actually are. Such is the case with Chronicles of Riddick: escape From Butcher Bay, a 12 hour visceral romp that is very well designed and gives the illusion of being a much shorter game than it actually is.

The story of this game takes place before the two movies that this game is based on, “Pitch Black” and “The Chronicles Of Riddick”. Both of these movies are decent sci-fi adventures and happen to translate exceptionally well into a game. Escape From Butcher Bay starts off with a brief glimpse of a lone Riddick doing what he does best, survival. Killing seems to come naturally to this character. The following cutscene shows how Riddick finds himself incarcerated in Butcher Bay for the first time and the story follows his subsequent attempts of escape from this futuristic triple maximum security prison. Along the way are corrupt guards, a cocky warden, an annoying bounty hunter, some aliens, a ton of rowdy inmates and very few acquaintances.

The graphics are done well, so well in fact that you can even see Vin Diesel’s mediocre acting perfectly on his virtual counter part. With that jab aside, everything in the game is good looking; various environments ranging from prisoner cells, to caverns, lighting effects, and character models. The only problem I saw was that the character’s voices weren’t always in synch with the movements.

The sound department finds a few stars making their appearances throughout the game. Vin Diesel reprising his role as Riddick, the rapper Xzibit as the main antagonist in the first part of the game, and Ron Perlman as one of Riddick’s acquaintances. Voice acting done by the rest of the cast was done believably. The music did well to add atmosphere throughout the game and would pick up drastically when danger presented itself.

The gameplay, while for most of the time in first person perspective, dealt mostly with stealth and melee attacks. A great portion of time is spent sneaking around and pouncing on unsuspecting guards when the chance emerges. While the thought of a stealth heavy game in first person might scare some people, it’s done extremely well in Chronicles. The melee aspect of combat is very satisfying, which is great seeing as a lot of time is spent without ranged weapons. Speaking of guns, most of the guns don’t seem to be balanced as they should. It takes about the same amount of hand gun bullets as assault rifle bullets to drop a guard, the tranquilizer gun is the most efficient gun in the game and even the pistol seems to have a great stunning shock on the robotic guards. It seems a lot more thought went into melee combat than the ranged combat.

The story progresses as you do missions for not only yourself, but other inmates. Some of these missions are totally optional and reward you with money, weapons or cigarette packs. Money and weapons use are self explanatory but packs of cigarettes aren’t actually useable. They only exist to unlock special content available from the main menu. Most of this extra content are just pictures of the design progress and scenes from the movie, there are a few videos available.

The final verdict? While the game is naturally short, the combination of a decent story, and engageing gameplay, make it seem like a mere 6 hour romp. However, this brief foray into Butcher Bay is great all the way through. Escapism never felt so rewarding.