You’re probably wondering why we haven’t reviewed The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena until now. Well, wonder no more. Blame our lack of coverage on germs, man.
Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed], PC)
Richard B. Riddick lurks in the shadows of a dark, decadent expanse of star systems where outlawry, wickedness and the bestial nature of man rules. It’s a universe of unapproachable evil that only the corrupt and perverted can thrive in. Riddick’s vision of this setting isn’t distorted. He’s no more a hero than the renegade slaver, but that’s why I love him. He’s a monster like everyone else, motivated by the baser desires of revenge, greed, and freedom of distraction.
While Athena’s melee system isn’t radically different from Butcher Bay, there have been a few tweaks. Riddick now has more melee moves. Pressing different directions with the left knob while swinging will generate different attacks. There’s not a traditional combo system, but you’ll find yourself opening up opponents with a lot more ease. And yes, it’s all brutal stuff with real-time deformation. The viciously curved knives, Ulaks, cut swaths across your opponents’ chests, while fists deform faces and give bloody impressions on skin.
You won’t have saving problems with Dark Athena, but the trial-and-error stuff is still present. One section at the beginning of the campaign in particular displays the need for continual reloading. It’s a room packed full of cybernetic zombies (or Drones) and you’ll have to test the waters several times, monitoring how they react and work together as you pass through each portion. Trial-and-error is frustrating, especially when you find yourself repeating sections for the sake of health. It’s common to roll through an hour of gameplay in Dark Athena -- especially towards the end -- without any healing stations.
However, the stealth and combat fun screeches to a halt after this time period. At some point you’re greeted with a world without many shadows. It’s an aggravating section of the game full of backtracking, awkward enemy encounters and unintuitive puzzle-based stuff.
Assault on Dark Athena is no more than a competent shooter -- it’s the mix of stealth and out-and-out confrontation that gives the title its edge. In multiplayer, it all breaks down. Headshots are common, respawn times are jokingly short, and level design is bad. The matches have an up-tempo, almost CounterStrike feel -- there’s even a mode that uses a weapon system like CS -- yet they lack that title’s refinement.
If you disliked Butcher Bay, then nothing about The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena will win you over. However, if you enjoyed the original title and are thirsty for more of the same action with several tweaks, feel free to get this game. Just try to forget the last few hours of Athena and don’t mess around with the multiplayer too much.
Score: 8 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)
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