The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay
is a well-known fact that movies based on games are pretty bad, and
games based on movies are worse. Indeed, this has almost been a law,
in the scientific sense. There are so few exceptions that most experienced
gamers, by and large, ignore any products based off the alternate
things work out. Turns out that Chronicles of Riddick, the movie,
wasn't so great, but Escape from Butcher Bay, the game based off the
movie, was hot stuff - at least on the Xbox. But come on, what do
Xbox developers know about making a first person shooter for the PC?
A great deal, apparently. I'll say it now: this is the game Doom 3
should have been.
the subtitle, "Escape from Butcher Bay" suggests, the game
has the player trying to escape from a prison. Not once, not twice,
but three times. The escape attempts are done in a logical, sensible
fashion and each provides an excuse to change the scenery, as Riddick
gets moved from maximum security, to double max, and finally triple
max. Along the way, considering the damage Riddick does, one wonders
why the warden Hoxie just doesn't do away with him, but thankfully
for the story (and two movies), Riddick survives.
The Escape From
Butcher Bay story lacks a concrete beginning or end, feeling more
like a chapter in the saga of Richard B. Riddick, which I guess is
fitting for a game that takes place as part of a chronicle. The only
insight into Riddick's origin is provided by his renown among the
Butcher Bay prisoners; even these dangerous prisoners fear the guy.
But as tough as Riddick may seem, he's been captured by the bounty
hunter Johns, and is being sold into incarceration for the cancellation
of a debt owed to the Warden.
While Johns' ship
is preparing to land, Riddick has a dream that acts as a subtle tutorial.
In the dream, Riddick kills Johns and tries to escape from the prison.
Throughout this short sequence, the player gets cues from Riddick
and short explanations of his abilities. For example, as Riddick passes
through a doorway into a dark area he'll say something along the lines
of 'No one will see me now,' which is accompanied by a dialogue box
explaining crouching/shadows and the general stealth mechanics of
though formalities such as tutorials, dialogue boxes and life-bars
are essential to video games, the developers did a great job emphasizing
the cinematic qualities of Escape From Butcher Bay by getting rid
of the HUD. What Riddick sees is what you see. If you look down, you
see your legs and/or shadow. When you jump, you see your hands move
to balance you. Riddick does have a life bar, although it's only visible
during combat situations. The result is highly immersive.
Riddick starts off fairly slow with an simple tutorial, and the first
escape attempt is very action-heavy, but the game really picks up
the tempo and starts mixing in stealth-heavy elements when Riddick
gets his "shine eyes". With the ability to see in the dark,
our slightly disturbed protagonist becomes a veritable killing machine.
killing isn't indiscriminate - in fact, in certain areas you're not
allowed to - but it's certainly prolific enough. At times the action
sequences are the familiar Zerg horde scenarios, but there is a fair
bit of stealth combat thrown in. Every now and then the game will
require the player to sneak by an enemy, but this is generally simple
and not one of those typically frustrating stealth missions that other
games have thrown in. Most of Riddick's appeal is in its seamless
nature, it's not unlike Half-Life in that respect. There are technically
only three levels. The player can backtrack many of his routes, though
on occasion a retreat becomes blocked or is too high to reach.
The game itself,
as the title suggests, is all about Riddick's escape from Butcher
Bay, the highest security prison in the galaxy. Delivered to this
dark and ugly hellhole at the start of the game by a slimy and objectionable
bounty hunter, it's up to you to work out how to get out, and it's
not going to be pretty. Spliced together from bits of our favourite
genres, one minute you're creeping around in the dark snapping guards'
necks, the next engaging in dialogue with fellow cons to work your
way up the prison pecking order, and probably smashing their faces
in shortly afterwards to show them who's boss.
a game that at first glance looks like yet another dark and moody
sci-fi shooter, you'll probably spend a decent portion of it wondering
when you'll get to wield a gun for more than a few minutes, with most
guns DNA-encoded to their owners and the source of a nasty electric
shock should you try and use them. Hence, the game treats first-person
shooting as a luxury, using it sparingly and making you use your wit
and cunning to survive the rigours of Butcher Bay.
a harsh approach initially, but as a result spectacularly atmospheric.
Every guard, every prisoner has a face, a personality, and rather
than populate the game with a faceless succession of drones, much
of your journey within Butcher Bay take place within believable confines
against foes who you may well get the jump on eventually. Although
the prison yard isn't the most exciting of environments, the sense
of desperation is clear, the graffiti tells you all you need to know,
and the route to the next task is never far away. Although The Chronicles
Of Riddick isn't much of a challenge on the default settings, it's
rarely dull or frustrating, keeps tasks clear yet involving, and is
one of those games that doesn't waste your time. For a time-poor gamer
who wants to see all there is to see and be entertained for ten hours
and move on, this is almost perfectly designed around those constraints.
Others that wish
to indulge in epics that have you sweating on tiny portions of the
game just to move on might find it all a bit simplistic, but you can't
please everyone. Having indulged in both recently, I can say both
have their plusses and minuses; in a sense you can't really ever have
both, but if you're hankering after bite-sized entertainment that's
consistently rich throughout then there's few games that have ever
been designed as tightly as Riddick.
There are very
few games I recommend outright to anyone without hesitation. So let
me just qualify: if you have any interest in first-person shooters,
go get Riddick. Now.
By Le Chupacabra
Son Goku is Earth's greatest hero
and has always emerged victorious in every fight he's been. On a peaceful
day gone bad (get used to it…) his son Gohan is kidnapped by an opponent
of otherworldly power who threatens to destroy the planet unless Goku
joins him! And it so happens that this guy is a space alien and he's
Goku's brother! For the first time ever, Goku and his arch-nemesis
Piccolo form a temporary alliance to take this guy out. The alien
proves to be more than a match for the duo…
DragonBall Z is one of the most popular anime series' of all time.
And with good reason too. It presents a world with some crazy yet
personable characters, lots of super powers which we utterly can't
do without, an abundance of wacky hairstyles and some really exciting
Martial Arts fighting. Not traditional Martial Arts, of course; it
isn't but it's undeniable that the fighting is fun to watch. And let's
not forget the absolutely pointless-yet-indispensable yelling of the
special attack names! By all means, it is over-the-top, eccentric
and silly at times (the powering up may cause you to recall a bad
bout of constipation) but that's what makes it so fun! And everybody
loves the naturally crazy Super Saiyans and their even crazier hairstyles!
The characters are great, too. While
the main protagonist Goku generally remains unchanged (despite getting
really, really strong) quite a lot of them develop throughout the
course of the series. And considering there being 276 episodes, they
had better damn develop! It's sort of like one of those soap operas
or Hindi serials but without the corniness or the incessant backstabbing.
So you'll find your fair share of likeable/dislikeable/why's-he-even-here?
characters. From main protagonist Goku to the obligatory pushover
best friend Krillin to the cocky in-your-face Vegeta; and the hilariously
pompous Mr. Satan, everyone manages to be entertaining. Even the rather
pathetic Yamcha serves good purpose as stress relief, being conveniently
yell-at-able throughout the show.
The artwork is solid but not amazing.
However the epilepsy-inducing blast attacks and the hyperactive yet
fluid fighting both manage to look great, given that this show is
rather old. The character models are very unique and generally not
too harsh on the eyes. Most of them being non-human does help!
voice acting fits the characters really well, though I hope the actors
are well paid for constant screaming they have to do. Hand them a
bunch of throat drops FUNimation! But jokes aside, the emotions aren't
wasted since these people know how to make it sound good. The music
was redone and while different from Japanese version, it's actually
pretty nice. It manages to set the mood appropriately, which albeit
isn't too hard given the constant action.
There are infinitely deeper and more
meaningful anime out there, with more intricate plots, and better
artwork, and so on. But for sheer fun and heart, DBZ is one of my
most favourite ones. So take it from me: this is a series that will
find a special place in your heart and after you've spent all your
time doing other things and watching other anime, you'll always be
drawn back to the world of DragonBall Z.
If you have seen
"National Velvet" and "Babe" then you know what
is coming up. This is a movie with talking animals and generally talking
animals are cute (even annoying talking animals like Donkey in "Shrek").
All the animals are real only their mouths have been modified with
CGI to lip synch with the human stars. In the end you hear familiar
voices coiming out of their furry mouths
Horse trainer Nolan Walsh (Bruce Greenwood) and his daughter Channing
(Hayden Panettiere) live in a farm that overlooks a racetrack and
is situated beside a railrioad track. All this links together in a
linking sort of way. Nolan is a widower whose wife died in a horse
riding accident. He withdrew from the training scene and of course
forbade his daughter from ever joining in the competitive sport riding
a horse. So its no problem when one night as a circus train is passing
by a crate falls off and out jumps a zebra.
The father and
daughter find the orphan and Nolan wants to trace its owners. But
Channing of course falls in love with it and wants it for a pet. So
the zebra is named Stripes with the quavering voice supplied by Frankie
Muniz of Malcolm in the Middle fame. In the meantime no one from the
circus comes looking for the zebra and no one really seems to care.
The animals in
the movie are all real animals, except for the animated flies (voices
by Steve Harvey and David Spade). Computer effects are used, however,
to sync their mouths with the dialogue.
There's all kinds
of quirky characters on the farm. Dustin Hoffman plays a short-tempered
Shetland, Joe Pantoliano is a pelican named Goose who seems to be
hiding out from the mob, Whoopi Goldberg is a goat and Mandy Moore
is a mare who falls in love with Stripes. Then there's an awfully
sleepy bloodhound (Snoop Dog). The cast is full of Grammy, Oscar and
MTV Movie Award winners.
Now the zebra
has high ambitions and probably a bit of a personality disorder cause
he thinks like a horse. He is probably thinking he IS a horse in just
a funky striped suit. The racetrack is run by a snobbish and cruelly
evil Clara Dalrymple. Her own horse, Trenton's Pride, is favored to
win the derby, and she doesn't see any point in letting a zebra enter
the race. In a way, she has logic on her side. It's a horse race after
Stripes in the end is an underdog or rather under-equestrian story
where the outsider(zebra) wins against all odds and the father and
daughter reconcile their fears and angst. Everyone wins and it's a
happy, happy world. Its an endearing but predictable joke-packed yakking
animal movie. Funny and sweet which a few jaded viewers might find
a bit annoying.
The next consoles,
Playstation 3 and Xbox 2 have been announced, with much hype and anticipation.
The companies are blabbering on and on about how powerful the consoles
will be and how gorgeous and movie-like graphics they would render.
Well, they said all that before PS2 and Xbox came out, so mostly they
are hype. Still the few released screenshots and gameplay footage
are absolutely awesome. They are extremely beautiful and looks real
in an odd uncanny way.
Take a look: this
happens to be the next Need for Speed game. http://tinyurl.com/6nlw3
... Look at the car. Just look at it! Is this supposed to be a video
game? Here's another one: http://tinyurl.com/5hmkl ... A rugby game?
Look at the shadows, the grass, the players… You can almost feel the
excitement of it! More in this site: http://tinyurl.com/4f43r... and
Dark Sector has some footage www.darksector.com... Also here's another
game that looks superb: http://www.elderscrolls.com/
Looks like that
the consoles are only planning for better graphics… and that is sad.
I guess we won't be able to jack into the game-world anytime soon.
And in other news:
TotalGames.net is quoting MCV on reporting that Rockstar Games is
already hard at work planning the next entry in the GTA series for
the PS3. The interesting part is that they (Rockstar) is looking for
locations outside of the US...with Europe being a "strong contender".
And if you want
a Gmail account, mail me with your first and last name.
The links are
available at my blog, niloywrites.blogspot.com, so that you don't
have to type them up.
The usual greatness:
Swank Signs: Dedicated to the art of mocking public works
Ever stopped by
a sign in the road that was so hard to make out it can only have been
meant to be understood by aliens? That's the idea behind this gallery
of graphic mysteries and confusing primitive writings. "Dedicated
to the art of mocking public works," the site invites you to
submit photos of signs that are utterly incomprehensible, frankly
menacing, narrative-ly burdened , plainly insulting, creepily suggestive,
and, finally, strangely reminiscent of human-robot hybrid science
fiction. Signs from all over the world, including Japan, Germany,
Malaysia, Russia, and Vietnam add to the mix. Don't forget to check
out the suggested meanings at the bottom of each page.
The Red book of
A wonderful site dedicated to the works and worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien.
You can find all kinds of resources about Middle Earth here. And http://www.geocities.com/palmtolkien/
has pictures from the books, music, fonts, screensavers and programs.
Tolkein fans should check them out.
sent all kinds of weird stuff over mail
Now that's a good way of testing a postal system. And funny too.
The Box Doodle
Artist David Hoffman presents this fantastic scrolling gallery of
cardboard art. The only requirement? The art must come on a box --
which he generously supplies as well as the tools to create your own
doodles. Dozens of talented illustrators have contributed flattened-box
creations that range from the amusing to the slightly creepy. Most,
however, fall firmly in the whimsical category. If a particular box
doodle catches your eye, it's probably linked to a great individual
artist site. Try the super nifty Box Doodle Tool: Pick any of three
boxes, a colour, and a pen and start drawing. It's more fun than you
An atlas of the
This web page is designed to give everyone an idea of what our universe
actually looks like.
A guy smokes 800
cigarettes in 6 minutes
One smoke, and you have lungs cancer. Lovely!
Thank you, Japan, for inspiring a seemingly endless supply of goofy
web sites! This highly entertaining blog celebrates the infinite wonder
of Japanese processed foods. This is a virtual horn o' plenty of bizarre
Nipponese edibles. There's some really strange stuff called Chicken
Dust, which is actually kind of muddy and is supposed to be poured
over rice. A brave foray into the bewildering world of ramen features
some real doozies, including one labeled "Soy Sauce Flavor."
yourself to an entirely new take on the bachelor's favorite edible
genre: "Boil in the Bag." According to the package for beef
curry, it has "good taste and nice flavor." But Jon Cockle
disagrees and finds that, unlike other cultures that "tend to
improve original recipes...Japan has perfected the art of making them
crap." Dig in, gaijin!
You can visit
my blog at niloywrites.blogspot.com or email me atnn email@example.com