Vin Diesel is one of those heroes who we regularly see emerge unscathed from even the biggest of Hollywood explosions. This month, indestructible Vin is gonna detonate something pretty huge of his own, with his first starring role in an action game.
The dynamite question is: will this thing totally blow you away, or just gently ruffle your arse feathers? Well, we've played it right through and here's what we think of the show.
Rise And Shine Riddick
A bit like the universe, it all started with Pitch Black. Pitch Black, in case you're some kind of action movie dodging weirdo, was a so-so sci-fi flick that introduced us to deadly convict Richard B Riddick (played by none other than Vincent Unleaded), and his bounty-hunting handler Johns.
Although it was released back in 2000, the film is the second chapter in The Chronicles Of Riddick, and it's worth watching to see Riddick emerge as the cool anti-hero with the ability to see in the dark.
As you probably know, Pitch Black has a major movie sequel due very soon at your cinema, called The Chronicles Of Riddick. A week before that this Xbox game Escape From Butcher Bay comes out, and is a prequel to Pitch Black, making this the first episode in the Chronicles. The thinking behind this onslaught of all things Riddick is that the hero of the tale doesn't benefit from decades of comic book lore, or trilogies of novels. So, in order for the Riddster to stand tall with the likes of fellow legendary leader types Conan and Luke Skywalker, there needed to be a lot of blanks filling in. Since it's very expensive and time consuming to make a movie prequel, the next best option was to make a game. This explains everything that ends up good or bad with Escape From Butcher Bay.
Everything And More
You can count the really good movie tie-ins on one hand: for every clever Star Wars game, there's an Enter The Matrix dragging you into the gutter. Thankfully, Escape From Butcher Bay is being handled by co-creators Vinnie Petrol and David Twohy (director). They are concentrating on fleshing out the hero at the centre of what would otherwise be a fairly straightforward first-person shooter.
Off To A False Start
The game kicks off with a bizarre flashback or precognition (it's hard to work out which) of Riddick escaping through the sewers of a facility that looks like Butcher Bay. This minutes-long prologue is a snapshot of the action to come - Riddick talking to captor Johns; sneaking up behind him to break his neck; running for cover to avoid deadly perimeter guns; engaging in a shotgun shootout... before he wakes up from what turns out to be a dream. Actually, he's still on board the transport ship to Butcher Bay pen, and still under the watchful eye of Johns. The game never does explain why all this happens, but it's cool, so okay. Anyway it helps us sum the game up in a nutshell: lots of talking, a fair bit of sneaking up on people and snapping their neck, plus lots of running to avoid death. By the end of it you'll feel every bit the bad-ass that dwells inside Riddick.
Dead Don't Talk
Soon as he is officially a prisoner inside Butcher Bay the game works hard to immerse you in the role of Riddick. You do a lot more than just look through his killer eyes, wield the knife and pull the trigger. As an inmate you're given choices to make, a certain amount of freedom to act within the confines of Riddick's character, and this affects how the game pans out.
Conversations, especially early on, are plentiful. From these you're expected to gain information on how to escape. Everyone has something to say to Riddick if you stop by and press the X button, and the big man is full of quips to answer back. You even get a multiple-choice in many instances. The choices mostly relate to how cheeky you want to make the comebacks, but with fellow inmates, you have to choose how helpful you're prepared to be in return for secrets. It turns out you'll be running quite a few little errands before you get the feel of a gun in your hands, so don't expect to be blasting an' a strafing from the word go. Fist fights are a different matter - you get to enjoy plenty of those.