It’s perhaps a lazy way to open a review of a game based on a movie by stating the following, but here goes anyway. Games based on movies are rarely any good. Whilst occasionally the odd decent effort crops up, the gaming graveyard is littered with the virtual corpses of those that could cope on a cinema screen, but not on a monitor.
The shock here then is that, out of nowhere, Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay has broken the rules. Not since the Nintendo 64 hit GoldenEye – the best part of ten years ago – has a game based on a film scaled such heights, and in this case it’s all the more surprising as the film it’s based on was hardly the most inspiring source material.
That’s perhaps why the game puts the movie’s plot to one side, and pretty much does things its own way. It’s a first person action title that moves the action to a time before the two Riddick movies, and finds Riddick – voiced in the game by Vin Diesel himself – locked up in the infamous Butcher Bay prison.
The object, as you’ve probably twigged, is to escape, and in doing this you’ll employ a selection of gaming’s favourite techniques. As well as blasting people away and utilising hand-to-hand combat, you’ll have to rely on a bit of exploration, talking to people and a fair dollop of stealth on your quest. You’re open to explore at will, and given the genuinely superb graphical look of the game, you’ll probably enjoy yourself as you do. Staggeringly, it all hangs together exceptionally well.
And as we’re laying down praise, here’s some more. This is one of the most downright engrossing single player games on the PC of late, and while it’s not quite in Half Life 2 territory, it runs it a damn sight closer than you were probably expecting.
This is all the more surprising given the fact that this is supposedly a conversion of the Xbox hit of a few months ago. Frankly, it puts every company who ever did a console port before to shame. Not only have the graphics been overhauled, but fresh new sections have been added to the game and there are several other worthy features that mean that the ‘Developer’s Cut’ in the title is far more than a bit of marketing blurb.
Then, of course, there’s the wonderful advantage that the PC has over its console rivals, namely the controls. There’s nothing quite like playing a first person shooter with a keyboard and mouse, and that certainly holds true here. If we were being particularly harsh, we could knock the fact that the game isn’t quite as long as we’d like, but this is still one of the most unexpected gems to turn up on the gaming market in some time. You really should buy a copy.
Don’t let it tempt you to watch the movie though.
Company: Vivendi Universal