Has TCOR: Butcher Bay broken the bounds of it's aging genre, or is this title a victim of it's own depravity?

User Rating: 9 | The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay - Developer's Cut PC
"Perhaps the most acclaimed major acting-role that Hollywood action-star Vin Diesel has starred in to date, is that of the universally wanted criminal "Richard B. Riddick"; and thus within the vast "confines" of his granted universe, the soon to be movie-trilogy entitled "The Chronicles of Riddick".
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Additionally - and to no seasoned gamer's surprise - when a collaboration between a set branch of Hollywood and one of Europe's finest game-developers was announced as the primary development force behind a game based on the afore-mentioned successful movie franchise, many cast such an effort aside as simply another failed attempt at making some quick cash out of an acclaimed Hollywood property; this being specifically through the means of a video-game.

So in turn, it came as a thunder-storm to a flame when both critics and gamers alike eventually got their hands on the prior-labelled first-person action/adventure shooter title, only to ultimately find that this seemingly at-first-glance generic movie-licensed title was in-fact not only an electronic-gaming highlight of the year; yet also one with the competence, polish and innovation to compete with the likes of simultaneous-year releases like Half-Life 2 and Halo 2 alike.
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While originally hailed by many gamers at one point in time as a first-person-shooting classic, as well as the grand opening for alternative stealth/action to make a come-back within next-gen gaming, such a medal may be questioned during the standards of modern electronic-gaming as we know it; especially following the late-2009 release of the semi-sequel and remake subtitled "Assault on Dark Athena".

Entitlement and age aside; just how well does this legendary collaboration between the Electronic-Gaming Industry and Hollywood hold up in 2010?
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Brutal, Sinister and Brash are three distinct terms that ultimately describe this Prison experience rather well; as the majority of the title is spent staring through the eyes of a psychopath [Riddick] as he stalks his not-so-innocent prey, slits throats and makes dirty deals along the way with individuals of even less humanity, as he prowls the rusting cell-blocks, gloomy air-vents and claustrophobic mines of the Universe's most secure and fearsome prison alike in a seemingly never-ending attempt to escape captivity once more.

Beginning with a brief cutscene displaying a grizzled old Riddick briefly seen in the second installment of the movie franchise as he recalls one of his most vivid memories, the narrative introduces players to the location, prime-characters and ultimate goal of the game with an interactive introductory sequence, taking players from a prison-ship to a prison-cell in which they will be spending much of their time.

Instead of over-focusing on plot details and significance alike; Butcher Bay attempts to bring players into closer contact with Richard B. Riddick's characterization through a number of action-role-playing esc. dialogue sequences, narration from the afore-mentioned titular character and his inner conscience as it guides him through the dark prison-blocks of such a grim existence.

While it may or may not seem mostly shallow to those who are yet unfamiliar with the tale[s] thus far of Riddick himself, such a prequel may be instrumental to most all fans' understanding of the universe and previously referenced titular character background.
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While at first glance Escape From Butcher Bay takes on the all-too-ordinary guise of a generic first-person-shooter with third-person cutscenes/actions, over the course of the title a number of innovative mechanics and gameplay-styles along the lines of brawling, stealth and adventure alike are introduced to players to keep things fresh. Combos of first-person fighting, sneaking, silenced kills and backstabbing alike can be tied together in a number of different ways in order to create an experience of near-unparalleled diversity that is fully customizeable and almost never forces players to "don" a specified style of gameplay.

Innovations such as full directionally responsive first-person melee-combat are stand-outs throughout the entirety of the experience, and are complemented greatly by a solid arsenal of melee weapons often found in prisons such as clubs, shivs and screwdrivers alike. Additionally there are a number of DNA-encoded unlockable prison-security weapons of standard-issue such as shotguns, pistols and laser-rifles.

Perhaps the most stand-out focus the game has to offer is it's constant demand for players to improvise on their own survival before their instinctive aggression. All-out fights become more or less optional if the right skills are ultimately harnessed to sneak past or else disable whatever obstacles lie in a given player's way. While by no means new to electronic-gaming in the greater sense, such mechanics have never fully been achieved on such a scale from a first-person perspective.
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Utilizing in-house technology from Swedish developer Starbreeze studios, The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay is one of the best looking titles from the early 2000's; boasting not only great design and a fantastic recreation of Vin Diesel from the Riddick movie-franchise, yet furthermore an at-the-time groundbreaking lighting system which adds greatly to both the atmosphere and the already competent stealth-system.

Additionally, the moody orchestral-ambient score never allows players a dull moment with fast-paced combat music, great background industrial effects and some sinister chords while crawling through the cramped air-vents of the prison's darkest areas.
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Electronic-games from so many years ago with such great diversity, innovation and competence are by and large, few and far reaching. For not only fans of the movie trilogy, yet also any gamer with a taste for either stealth, gritty and fast paced action in it's truest form; Butcher Bay has stood the test of time and is to this very day a considerably blatant must-buy.

A masterful title in it's own right; Butcher Bay is perhaps the greatest movie-to-electronic-game adaptation from the previous decade.