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The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay - Demo Xbox

Published by Vivendi Universal Games
Developed by Starbreeze Studios
Released - August 2004

While most Xbox owners are looking forward to Halo 2 and Fable few would think that one of the best games on the console could have been based on a movie. I certainly wouldn't of anyway, that is until the demo disk of The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay dropped on the Deaf Gamers' door mat. Games based on movies are usually lacklustre at best but Starbreeze Studios have done a great job with Escape from Butcher Bay and this demo left us waiting impatiently for the final version.

As you might of guessed from the game title the main objective is to escape from your incarceration and it's going to be one heck of a job doing it. The game puts you in the shoes of Riddick who has just been put in the Butcher Bay triple max security prison. While Riddick's objective is to escape it's worth noting that no one has managed to do so before and it's certainly no easy task for Riddick. The demo we played, like most good demos, drops you straight into the action with Riddick having to fight for his survival from the very start.

The game doesn't appear to just be another FPS and there are other elements to the game play. You'll have to use some thought and solve several puzzles if you are to progress. There are also some instances where you'll have to climb and jump but thankfully it's been handled very well indeed and doesn't cause any frustration. The game uses a checkpoint save system, which could cause frustration, but thankfully the checkpoints don't appear to be too far apart so, should you meet your end, it's not too far to backtrack. Of course we would have to look at the whole game to say whether or not the checkpoints were evenly spaced throughout. In the demo Riddick has four health blocks. Each block will diminish with damage taken but as long as a block is not completely eroded away it will replenish when you're out of harm's way. Health can be regained by using the NanoMed health units that you'll find on your path to escape.

Whilst numerous aspects of the game can't really be looked at in detail from a demo of a game, the one aspect that can be judged with some confidence is the visuals. Escape from Butcher Bay looks very impressive and it is definitely a contender for the best looking Xbox game to date. The game, as you'll ascertain from the screenshots, will often have you moving around in the darkness, although you do have a flashlight to light your way. It's a tense moody atmosphere and the quality of the graphics and lighting effects make it a visual experience to remember.

Escape from Butcher Bay certainly offers a comprehensive set of subtitle options. You can enable dialogue subtitles, cutscene subtitles, casual subtitles and battle subtitles. Despite this extraordinary amount of subtitle options though not all speech within the demo is subtitled. A large amount of the speech is subtitled though and it looks promising for deaf gamers when the final version is released here in the UK in a few weeks time.

The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay is certainly looking like one to watch out for then. Of course if you live in the US then the game is already available and has been for some time. In fact there are already more than a few reviews out there for the game and from what we've played in the demo of the PAL version we would have to agree with the glowing praise that many of the US based websites have heaped on the game. We'll look forward to seeing the finished article in a few weeks time.