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The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Starbreeze
Release Date: April 7, 2009 (US), April 24, 2009 (EU)

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'Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena' (ALL) Developer Interview

by Rainier on March 20, 2009 @ 9:00 a.m. PDT

The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena contains a brand new full-length campaign which will include the original game re-imagined for a whole new audience, an entirely new chapter in the Riddick saga and, for the first time, intense online multiplayer combat, making it a must-have experience for any fan of intense action gaming.

Q: We understand that you initially decide to remake Butcher Bay because it wasn’t backwards compatible with Xbox 360. What made you also decide to add the Dark Athena content?

SB: That’s right. We made a lot of effort to get that game to run on the Xbox 360, but eventually realized it wasn’t possible. Additionally, the first game was never released on PlayStation, so there was a large audience that never had the opportunity to play the game. In the end it became a great excuse to do a remake and even enhance the quality of Escape from Butcher Bay.

So as we went into development on Assault on Dark Athena, our immediate goal was that reimagining of Escape from Butcher Bay for the new consoles. But as we were working on the game we all felt that it needed to deliver even more for Riddick fans. That eventually led to us extending the Dark Athena campaign. Assault on Dark Athena is a brand new game, with 10+ hours of gameplay, new characters, and a new story. The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena also includes multiplayer for the first time!

So at this point we’ve poured our hearts and souls into something that we really hope makes gamers happy, and for anyone that’s a fan of the Riddick universe, we’re quite sure they’ll enjoy this return to those adventures.

Q: You mention the Multiplayer. Can you tell us a little bit more about it? We know that this is the part of the game that many Riddick fans are excited to check out.

SB: We have been working on the multiplayer throughout the development of the game and we’re hopeful that gamers get a thrill out of our approach! We are featuring six modes—four classic modes and two that are completely new, “Pitch Black” and “Butcher Bay Riot.” “Pitch Black” is a seven player mode, where six players take on the role of mercs who hunt Riddick. Whoever kills Riddick, gets to be him in the next round. Riddick has the advantage of being able to see in the dark, while the mercs can only see what their flashlights spotlight.

Meanwhile, “Butcher Bay Riot” pits three teams of four against each other: prisoners, mercs, and guards. As a team, you’re fighting for control of a power cell that you are trying to plant in your enemy’s base. The winners of this mode score UD credits (currency in the Riddick universe) that can be used to purchase ammunition or weapons for the next round.

Q: Cool. Is the new game co-op supported?

SB: No. We’ve always talked about it, but the idea never ends up working out because Riddick is too much of a loner and we often feel that he’d rather kill that “buddy” than fight alongside him. We’ll see. Maybe someday it will make sense but for now it would just feel tacked on.

Q: It seems that it has been especially important to you to create a game that was one-hundred percent true to the Riddick character and universe. How did you go about developing a game that fits with the established Riddick cannon, even while creating a new storyline?

SB: With Vin Diesel involved in the game, not only committing his voice to the character, but also his creative ideas to the new campaign, developing a game and storyline that fit with the Riddick universe as fans know it turns into a really inspiring collaboration and fun problem to tackle. So for example, in Assault on Dark Athena we introduce the Ulaks (a set of curved knives) that you’ve seen in The Chronicles of Riddick movies, but here’s Riddick’s first encounter with this weapon, and it makes a connection to those films. That’s just one example of the kind of thing we’re doing all over the place.

Q: Why will gamers who have already played through the old Butcher Bay want to play through the Escape from Butcher Bay remake? Is it possible to just play the new Dark Athena campaign without playing through Butcher Bay?

A: It is possible to jump straight into Assault on Dark Athena, but we believe that even those who have played the original game are going to want to play the revamped Escape from Butcher Bay because the game has been extensively enhanced. Every environment, texture, animation, sound, and character has been recreated, taking advantage of new technologies we’ve pioneered for next-gen consoles. It’s actually quite amazing to see the difference!

Q: You guys are known for combining various gameplay elements in the campaigns you’ve developed. Butcher Bay was commended for its awesome mix of close- quarters stealth and gunplay. How have you incorporated this style of gameplay into the development of Dark Athena?

SB: I’m glad you asked about that. For Dark Athena we have tried to bring together multiple elements of gameplay, as we have in the development of our previous games. We have an enemy in the game called a Ghost Drone. These Drones have their weapons attached to their arms. When the Drone dies, the player can then pick-up the body and use it simultaneously as a gun and human shield. This is an example of how we have been able to combine gunplay and close-quarters stealth.

Q: What about achievements in the game?

SB: The game will have 50 achievements total, 25 for Escape from Butcher Bay and 25 for Assault on Dark Athena. For Athena, about half of the achievements will be for multiplayer, ranging from easy to very difficult to get.

Q: Thank you for your time. Is there anything else you would like to say to Riddick fans?

SB: We really feel that Chronicles of Riddick: Assault of Dark Athena is an amazing game and our best effort at Starbreeze to date. We certainly hope you enjoy the improved Escape from Butcher Bay Campaign, exploring the new levels of Assault on Dark Athena, and of course our new multiplayer. For everybody that loves the Riddick universe and for everybody that’s experiencing it for the first time – this game is our love letter to you!

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