I am one of those people who loved the first two Riddick movies, (the third was terrible imo). So of course I immediately finished this game when it came out in 2004. I learned that they released an updated version in 2009, accompanying the sequel, Assault on Dark Athena.
This release includes improved graphics, which I couldn't tell by looking at it, but that's only my memory playing tricks on me, after checking out the original as comparison I can say it's quite a big improvement. This is emphasized by the fact that the hardware requirement of the game is increased quite a bit as well. At the time of my first playtrough I used an nVidia 9600 GT graphics card which in 2009 it was a good mid-range card. I thought that a remake couldn't possibly need more hardware than that. I was dead wrong. The game was like a slideshow on that poor 9600GT when maxed out.
With this game it's exponentially true that time makes everything seem better. I remember it as a great role playing game with player choice and great graphics, but going trough it again, the story is completely linear, the maps are small, with hardly any objects in them. Which is acceptable for a cell block, that there are no items that can be used as weapons by the inmates. But the guard's quarters and office levels are just as barren as the cell blocks. The level of detail in some levels reminded me of Wolfestein3d.
The game has three selling points that make it better than average shooters. One is the atmosphere which resembles the mood of the movies very well, the second are the one liners that Riddick keeps dropping. And the third are the RPG elements, that are indeed limited, but still a welcome addition to any shooter.
The story has a pretty simple structure, it goes like this: Riddick arrives at the prison, and he gets thrown into the least secure part of the prison, and after he stirs up enough shit, he gets thrown into a bit more secure part of the prison. And this scheme repeats a few times, until he visits all the various cell blocks in the game. Of course this is a very simplistic explanation of the story, but I don't want to start dropping spoilers. Each of these so called cell blocks are copied from somewhere, I think I've seen all these concepts in some movie or game before, but it's not a problem, the game uses the borrowed material well.
This game also has the loathed checkpoint based save system. For example if you screw up badly in the game, but you still manage to reach the next checkpoint with a tiny bit of health, your savegame gets overwritten, and there is no going back. This happens very easily since you never know where the next checkpoint will be. And then you stand there with no bullets or no health to do the next part. The only help you get in these situations is that if you die five times at a checkpoint the game gives one bonus point to your health.
As I mentioned the good things in the game include, the fact that the atmosphere of the movies is recreated remarkably well. The RPG elements like trading with other inmates, conversations, getting into prize fights. The ability to use stealth instead of brute force.
I enjoyed the game and if you don't expect anything original the story is all right and twisty enough as well.
- RPG elements
- Simplistic map design
- The almost complete lack of objects and props, if you find something on a level, then you can be 100% sure that you'll need to use it
- Checkpoint system with no going back
All in all, it's worth giving a go to this game, the story and atmosphere will make it worth your while, especially if you like the movies like me. It gives a back-story to the character, and you even learn how he got his fancy eyes.
As a remake I only give it a 4 out of 10, because it didn't improve much on the original, apart from the hardware demand. At least they could've filled the hollow office levels with some furniture. The game itself is a strong 7/10.