Preview: The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena (Sony PS3)

The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena.
Developer: Starbreeze
Publisher: Atari
Genre: First Person Shooter
Release Date: 04/07/2009

In 2004, a good many Xbox owners were wowed by the technically impressive film tie-in game The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. Now, some five years later, developer Starbreeze revisits the sci-fi realm of all things Riddick with a sequel to the events of Butcher Bay in Assault on Dark Athena.

The game picks up after the original Xbox game with Riddick finding himself aboard the Dark Athena, a ship commanded by space pirates. Utilizing the stealth style gameplay present in Butcher Bay, the demo sees the player control Riddick, who bears an even more effective and impressive likeness to Mr. Diesel, as he gets the drop on the pirates with his trademark Ulak knives. The player also eventually gets to grab a few different firearms, allowing the player a taste of the less stealthy gun play aspects Dark Athena will allegedly focus more on this time around.

This short gameplay demo is all that is really needed to confirm the stunning sci-fi atmosphere developer Starbreeze has infused in the game. The dark corridors and cold steel walls of the Pirate Ship Athena are the perfect playground for a shadow assassin like Riddick, and the aesthetic is rich and immersing. The actual gameplay, though similar to that of Butcher Bay, has not lost its edge, as this run through a portion of the first stage vividly demonstrates.

Besides being able to execute a number of contextual actions when facing off against enemies, whether unarmed or brandishing various melee weapons, Riddick can perform several different attacks, and is also able to block assaults. The demo also gives you the opportunity to test-drive the drone sentinels, which are remote-controlled cyborgs with large guns. From the drone station, Riddick can use these robots to lay waste to his enemies, as well as open otherwise unavailable sections of stages, usually by killing one of his drones.

There is a great deal to look forward to in Dark Athena, content-wise. Publisher Atari not only promises a full fledged sequel to the popular Butcher Bay, but an intuitive multiplayer mode, as well as a complete remake of 2004’s original Escape from Butcher Bay game as an added bonus.

So far, Dark Athena seems to be a very promising FPS experience that fortifies and strengthens the aspects that made Butcher Bay the innovative and impressive sci-fi adventure that it was. Judging by Starbreeze’s amazing track record with delivering excellent gaming experiences based on licensed properties, such as Butcher Bay and The Darkness, there is little doubt that Dark Athena will shape up to be something special. Check out the downloadable demo now, and check back for our full review after the game’s release on April 7th.



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