Now, Eye Shine turns out to be no more advantageous than night-vision goggles in any other stealth game or FPS. It simply has a cooler name, and is tinted pink instead of green. We thought Eye Shine would give Riddick a sense of ESP, somehow make him more aware through vibrations in the controller or whatever. That could've made for more intrigue, but in the end it's plain old seeing in the dark. So, cue shooting out the lights and crouching in the shadows to take aim at disoriented guards, but watch out for the ones with torches because they'll blind you. Bottom line with Eye Shine is, the concept could've been developed into so much more.
That Big Movie Feel
Quite often, Butcher Bay is in danger of being forgettable. What keeps you interested is the high level of graphical detail, high production Hollywood sound effects and orchestral score.
Although you spend nearly all of your time surrounded by various shades of rusty brown, or concrete grey brightened only by the orange of muzzle flash or the stark crimson blood splats, it is all very believable. Also, the way Butcher Bay is connected by a labyrinth of mine shafts and air conditioning vents is ingenious. Every step to Riddick's dramatic escape from the Spaceport you're thinking of the most effective possible route to freedom. Scenarios play out in a similar way to those in Splinter Cell or Metal Gear, although without the same intensity placed on stealth - you're allowed to come out guns blazing more, so it feels easier to deal with.
The ace up Butcher Bay's sleeve is the massively blown out of proportion confrontations with heavy-duty law enforcement equipment, culminating in one hell of a battle before the escape.
Sexy But Short Lived
Here's the thing: as Riddick we managed the escape from Butcher Bay in less than eight hours total playing time. After that we were left reflecting on whether all the excitement was worth it, and if there's any point playing through the game at least more than once. It seems the guys at Starbreeze took this into account, giving three difficulty options: Easy, Normal, or Hard and scattering cigarette packets, or 'smokes', throughout the game to unlock pre-production sketches and a few mpeg files, should you find them. We tried the Hard setting and it only made us aware of the limitations of the weapons and wasted opportunity with Eye Shine. On Easy, there's basically not much to worry about. So the prospects for replayability are poor. Played on Normal difficulty - as you doubtless will first time through - Escape from Butcher Bay succeeds as a gripping action-packed experience, and can be enjoyed in the same way that great popcorn movies often are. In fact, if this were a movie we'd say, "go see." As a game, we say: "go play - but bear in mind the quick exit".
Are we too battle-hardened to sense the full impact of Vin's Xbox debut? More likely the game isn't packing quite the dynamite as its potential suggested.