Review: Riddick returns for a double feature in Assault on the Dark Athena

The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay was hailed by many, but played by few. Released for the Xbox, the game revisited Riddick's early days, prior to Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick, when the murderous antihero was still a common criminal.

While reviewers loved the game, it wasn't a huge seller. Developers Starbreeze AB and Tigon hope to change that with Assault on the Dark Athena (Xbox 360/PS3/Windows), which couples an upgraded Butcher Bay with a new campaign pitting Riddick against the mercenary crew of a prison ship.

Escape From Butcher Bay is the double feature's high point. It opens with Riddick incarcerated in the maximum-security prison of Butcher Bay for crimes he most certainly committed. Once inside, he immediately attempts to break out, and you quickly discover that this game is about stealth, not gunfights. Riddick may be the galaxy's biggest badass, but even he can be taken down by a few gunshots. To escape, he needs to stick to the shadows and fight only when needed.

Butcher Bay's updated visuals are adequate for a next-gen platform, but the new Dark Athena looks better. Unfortunately, its campaign is essentially a clone of the original. Once again Riddick is escaping from a massive prison, and while this time he's on a mercenary starship, the basic premise is the same. Even the story doesn't do much for Riddick; Butcher Bay answered the question of how Riddick got the "eyeshine" that lets him see in the dark but Dark Athena is concerned with its own mysteries. Those hoping for an extension of the Necromonger storyline from the Chronicles movie will be disappointed.

Multiplayer is uneven at best. Bullets are just as lethal as in the single-player game, and the open design of the maps means that deathmatches devolve into spawning, getting shot, dying and spawning again. The "Pitch Black" mode, in which one player controls Riddick while others hunt for him in a darkened building, is truer to the game, but its single map gets old fast.

Ultimately, the game's a worthwhile rental, particularly for those who missed Butcher Bay, but only die-hard fans will consider it a must-buy.

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