PC Games: Chronicles of Riddick, Escape From Butcher Bay Director's Cut

Bald, bold and very beautiful, The Chronicles of Riddick (COR) is exceptional gaming. It grabs the movie-license sub-genre and provides the perfect template on how to make a great gaming experience from a cinematic source.

From the outset, COR is a cut above its genre brethren. The opening cut-scene and cinematic intro nail the menacing, gritty atmosphere of the series. This quality never lets up - aided by some pitch-perfect Hollywood vocal talent. The story acts as a prequel to the events in the film, filling in the titular hero's past and focusing on his escape from Butcher Bay prison and the loss of his sight.

COR succeeds due to its willingness to branch away from first-person shooter (FPS) standards and forge its own identity. Almost everything it tries, succeeds - from the hand-to-hand fist fights, counter attacks, lighting fluctuations to represent visibility, and the dialogue options. There are also plenty of sci-fi concepts, such as the healing booths, DNA-encoded weaponry and Riddick's iconic eyesight.

The PC version is almost identical to the Xbox version. Termed the Director's Cut, it provides a few extra gameplay mechanics (such as controlling a Mech) and a Deathmatch-style combat arena, neither of which warrant a secondary purchase. It looks fantastic, with brilliant lighting, great animations and an excellent musical score - although the lip-syncing, level interactivity and environmental physics lag behind the elite PC games. Unfortunately, there are also some concerns about system stability, especially with respect to the SFX.

With plenty of challenge, inventive gameplay and some brutal action, this is classy gaming.

Visuals: Cool lighting effects and visibility options, excellent animations Audio: Immersive audio score Gameplay: Not just a standard FPS, COR features some exceptional gameplay elements Score: 4 out of 5 Publisher: Vivendi Developer: Tigron Studios URL: www.riddickgame.com

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Chris Stead

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