The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena is a science fiction first-person action game for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Windows. The game is a sequel to The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, which has been remade and has been included along with the Assault on Dark Athena campaign. The game was released on April 7, 2009. A demo was released on Xbox Live on March 4, 2009, with a PlayStation Network release following on March 12, 2009.
The game was developed by Starbreeze Studios and published by Atari. According to Ian Stevens, Head of Production at Tigon, the decision to do a remake was because Microsoft could not make the Xbox 360 backward compatible with Escape from Butcher Bay, and because they wanted to get the Escape story to a larger audience before progressing further.
Dark Athena has improved graphics and AI from Butcher Bay along with the addition of a multiplayer mode. The single player mode has also been expanded to include Riddick escaping onto a mercenary ship called Dark Athena.
Vin Diesel, the voice and likeness of the title character, was involved in the production of Assault on Dark Athena.
On July 29, 2008, Activision Blizzard had announced that The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena along with eight other games in development had been dropped by Activision Blizzard, putting the future of the game into question. However, on September 24, 2008, StarBreeze Studios confirmed that The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena was nearing completion and were in the process of looking for a publisher to publish the game. In October 2008 Atari announced they would publish Riddick.
While the fate of Riddick was up in the air, Starbreeze reportedly kept working, and generated enough content by December 2008 to make Dark Athena, for all intents and purposes, a sequel to their earlier work.
The game picks up where Escape from Butcher Bay left off. Richard B. Riddick is a dangerous space criminal who can see in the dark. Johns, the man who originally took Riddick to the Butcher Bay prison for a bounty, helped him escape to avoid becoming a prisoner himself. On their ship together in a cryogenic sleep, they are dragged unwillingly into the Dark Athena, a gigantic mercenary vessel ran by Gale Revas (voiced by Michelle Forbes) and her second in command, Spinner. Riddick avoids capture as Revas and her men take Johns away. Using the same stealth tactics as he did in Butcher Bay, Riddick sneaks and hides throughout the ship seeking to escape, killing the guards and mercenaries he encounters along the way. Many of the guards are automated drones that are human bodies with implanted machine parts, controlled remotely from within the ship.
He meets with a little girl named Lynn who is hiding from the guards in the air vent systems. Riddick makes his way to the prison cells and finds several people captured, including the former Captain of the Dark Athena before Revas took control. There he meets Lynn's mother, Ellen Silverman. She offers to make Riddick the tools he needs to escape through the air vents if he can get the right parts. She also asks to find Lynn because she is concerned for her safety. Another prisoner named Dacher (voiced by Lance Henriksen) offers his technical skills to help Riddick escape on a ship and unlock doors for him if Riddick can find him a com link. He agrees and finds the com link for Dacher and the parts for Silverman. Having again met with Lynn, Silverman keeps her word and makes him the tool he needs. Riddick moves on and is in contact with Dacher via video communication at computer terminals on the ship. Riddick frees the prisoners but most are killed, including Lynn's mother Silverman. Revas kills Dacher as he prepares the ship for their escape. Riddick finally meets Revas face to face. As they fight, he wounds her severely and she is thought to be dead. As he is preparing an escape pod to take off, Lynn is pounding on the door begging to take her with him. Revas, who is still alive as Riddick's pod takes off, fires a missile that hits the pod, causing it to crash on the planet Aguerra below.
Riddick wakes up on the shore of a beach (the same beach seen in the introductory tutorial level) and he makes his way into an abandoned city. The planet is under siege from Revas' troops who are capturing civilians and harvesting their bodies to use for their drones. Riddick realizes his only way off the planet is to get back on the Dark Athena again. He makes his way through the city and back to the port where the Athena is docked. Spinner attacks Riddick in a robotic mech suit but is defeated. He gets back onto the Dark Athena and meets Lynn again. She tells Riddick her mother taught her how to make the drones turn on Revas' crew and attack them instead. Fighting ensues on the ship between the drones and the mercenaries. He makes his way up the ship and Riddick meets with Revas again, who is in a suit of armor with heavy weapons. He defeats her by pushing her into an elevator shaft and she falls to her death. Lynn meets up with him and they are seen going into the elevator. She asks him if Revas is coming back, and Riddick answers "When I say goodbye, it's forever." Then the credits roll.
|Game Informer||9.5/10 (Game of the Month, April 2009)|
|Official Xbox Magazine||9.0/10|
The game received positive reviews, citing voice acting and the use of shadows as its strongest point. GameSpot praised the game for its voice acting and stated that "You may not hear better voice acting all year: It's that good." However, the game lost favour in AI and multiplayer.
1UP.com criticized the game for having very poor AI, citing that the player can be spotted even if he is not directly seen by the guards. Simply firing or exposing yourself will attract the enemy, regardless of whether they can see you or not. 1UP also pointed out that enemy AI will move away from the player's fire even if the attack is from behind.
Despite the criticism of the multiplayer, Gaming-Age praised the game's "Pitch Black" mode, citing that "Pitch Black, though, is easily the best aspect about the multiplayer." Game Informer said the game was better than Escape from Butcher Bay, the first game. They also praised the voice acting, stating that "Vin Diesel's voice will shake your room when the gunfire and explosions calm down." Hyper's Daniel Wilks commends the game as "an effortless combination of stealth and action" but criticises it for the "HD facelift" and "the lip synching is terrible".