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Riddick – Assault on Dark Athena- PC Preview

Riddick – Assault on Dark Athena- PC Preview



Chronicles Of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay was a firm favourite with many PC gamers in 2003 as it combined some great class leading visuals with an attractive storyline and some great FPS action. This is a very rare feat for a movie tie in. Developer Starbreeze AB remain in control of the follow up so it is with high hopes that we sat with them and got some hands on time with the forthcoming Assault on Dark Athena.

The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena ships with a remastered version of Butcher Bay which features new graphics and sound to make use of updated technology. The title also features some new additions to the gameplay mechanic and there is now long awaited multiplayer support.

When Riddick is first loaded you get the option to play either game. I was quite surprised to find that the original game still plays very well and the graphics have received some enhancements to the lighting and filtering. The game really does look surprisingly fresh, which will appeal to many gamers who will love the chance to revisit this modern day classic with all new funky visuals.

Dark Athena keeps the same basic play mechanic as before, which is a combination of a first person shooter and a stealth game. Riddick has the ability to see in the dark and can hide in the shadows which makes him a hard target to locate. Dark Athena puts a larger focus on the stealth aspects initially and you only have basic melee weapons for the first few levels. If you don’t sneak up on enemies and get quick stealth kills, it is extremely difficult to make progress. I think the structuring is great and it introduces you to all the tactics you will need later to approach the game from various angles, rather than just jump in head first with an SMG or rocket launcher.

The story revolves around Riddick being trapped on a mercenary ship with a maniac captain called Revas. Revas has a bunch of nasty guards (drones) who patrol the environment. These guards are not human and have their weapons grafted into their arms which adds a nice twist to the gameplay – when you kill them, you don’t get access to their weaponry. Stealth kills are good, and if you are skilled enough you can actually use them as a human shield and get access to their arm mounted guns to inflict damage on others. To balance it out and to make sure you don’t walk around the whole level with a drone as a human shield, your movement dexterity is penalised and you can’t run away from the enemy either as it takes some effort to make the drone do your bidding.

Let me make it clear right away, if you are a Duke Nukem or Serious Sam style player who likes to run into the open – guns blazing you will more than likely end up in a body bag before you can say “WTF!”. With almost the first half of the game played without a gun and in full stealth mode you quickly need to adapt to your surroundings and work out the best way to make it through the environments without being tagged and shot in the back of the head at every corner. If the stealth option was half assed then this wouldn’t be very appealing, but a lot of the enjoyment with the title comes from the hiding in the shadows and taking out your prey without them even knowing what happened.

We were shown a fantastic bit of level design with a drone control room section. In the control pod, Riddick is able to deploy the drones and control them remotely. These drones are slow and cumbersome but they have awesome firepower and can lay down some serious damage to anything in their path. This reminded me quite a bit of the famous mech sequence in Butcher Bay (not a bad thing).

After this section the game opens up a little and puts weapons more into the fore, that said it is still possible to play the game in stealth mode if so desired. When you get the option to use weapons however it is hard to refuse the use of them and you can run through the levels dishing out revenge kills on the guards who have been tormenting you for the last few hours.

Dark Athena offers more than just combat and stealth because just like Butcher Bay there are occasions when you get time to interact with other people on the ship, listen to their stories and help them out with requests. The language is spirited (not child friendly!) and the script is quite sharp which makes it even more appealing … you also aren’t spoken to like an errand boy either which is refreshing.

Multiplayer is supported, however I am not really allowed to discuss any of this right now as it is not entirely finished. There will however be a Pitch Black mode which places the player in dark arenas with other enemies to take out. It looks and sounds very exciting and I can’t wait to try it out when it hits retail.

The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena has literally double the content of the first game and enhances the engine to incorporate much of the newest graphics technology, so it looks gorgeous as well. The game is set for release sometime in April so we don’t have long to wait before we can get our hands on the final build and hopefully enjoy one of the most fun experiences of 2009. We are already impressed.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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