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   After all that Far Cry spam it is obvious that review is coming. 15 years after release, i'm between "retro" and "modern" with this one.

 

   Review of Far Cry.

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   This art cover basically explains what 2004 Far Cry was all about - action game set in jungles of a tropical island where player will sneak to places and wreck havok with explosions and lots of bullets. Far Cry was developed by Crytek (all others were done by other studios) and it was their first game. FC is a first person shooter set in near future, where main hero (Jack Carver) gets "involved" in Dr. Krieger's experiments with creating mutants. He should fight through organisation of ruthless mercenaries and mutated creatures to get to Dr. Krieger and get out of island. Far Cry was very well received by journalists and by players when it came out, it was released in same year as Half-life 2 and DooM 3 but managed to avoid direct competition by being first to release (early summer IIRC). Still, i found it to be better than DooM 3, in some parts - better than HL2 (heresy!)

 

   Visuals

   For 2004 Far Cry had top-notch graphics and tech in general, even compared to DooM 3 and HL2. Over a 1 km render distance of it's gorgeous jungles, big number of objects on a screen per frame, extensive use of physics engine, partially destructible terrain, dynamic lighting and shadow casting, water effects/reflections, bump mapping, use of shaders, drivable vehicles with working suspension simulation, build-in editor with ability to seamlessly play level directly from editor. All this allowed Far Cry to impress players back in 2004 and in some areas it was ahead of DooM 3's Id tech engine and HL2's Source.

   Althout game itself didn't used this tech potential for 100%, majority of indoor levels have bland art direction (just grey concrete/metal combined with brown colors) and there are very few indoor locations that are memorable. Outdoor parts of Far Cry are pretty good, but i think most of this positive feeling towards jungles are result of humans being hardwired to like nature.

 

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   Here is a "vertical slice" of Far Cry's visuals. 

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   A bit more on other features of Cryengine shown in Far Cry:

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   Devs liked to show thing like this - object hanged with chain or rope. Used in gameplay rather boringly, though - "shoot this chain to drop this big ass box on 2 guys standing right under it!" Maybe there were only 3 instances when this phycisc engine ability was used more interestingly - once with bridge, where chains could have been shot during firefight with mercs and which would lead to small bridge falling down and almost cutting player from that part of level and 2 times devs used empty container which was open from 2 sides hanged on chains in such way that if you shot chains over one side of contanier, you could use it to walk through on uper parts of area.

 

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   Back in 2004 cloth physics had wow effect, hehe.

 

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   A lot of objects in game had physical models, down to cups.

 

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   Craters from rockets/grenades.

 

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   Some of them can be used as a cover.

 

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   Gameplay

   Far Cry is linear action game with sandbox elements - levels are generally linear, but they are broken into "arenas" connected sometimes by more than 1-2 paths between each other. Player usually can choose how he will approach each place/camp/etc - from which angle, with what tactics and so on. FC AI supports stealth, hardcore action and other playstyles - player is free to choose how to deal with baddies and all parts of Far Cry's gameplay feels natural.... until we get to indoor maps.

   All player freedom is almost completely forgotten by level designers when they were making indoor levels. They feel like CoD/generic shooty game levels. Think of 2nd part of Crysis, how different and limiting it was for players after great amount of freedom of action in first part. Far Cry is basically that, but indoor levels are mixed with outdoor, so this is not as much "concentrated" problem as with Crysis.

   When outside, number of game mechanics are used to make things easier for a player - gamer have detection meter, which will alert player if he is being spotted (even by enemies player never saw), binoculars with build in microphone (allow to hear dialogues/sounds far away) and "tagging" system that puts markers on your radar of enemies spotted through binos and their condition (triangle show where they are facing, color - their "alert" level). Enemies can be tagged once and then radar will magically track tagged enemy actions in real time until he is dead. IMO binoculars are kind of cheat, but you can see that after FC many other open world games used same system (MGS5 for example).

   Gameplay variety come mostly from terrain, type and placement of enemies, avaliable weapons and how player wants to approach given situation. Player can carry up to 4 guns, almost all weapons in Far Cry have very different use (each gun have it's own + and -, they dictate how and in what sitaution it is effective). AI is mostly not scripted (with exception of reinforcements and vehicles attacks/car chases), so doing something in Far Cry may not result in exactly same reaction from enemies everytime you do it, which gives it replayability and a small risk of things not goign as planned even if you do same actions.

 

   Here is "vetical slice" of gameplay in Far Cry:

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   Car chases!

 

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   You can try to use for example fuel tanks to distract enemies. 

 

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   And try to sneak in. Not always works, mercs can hear when something is moving through bushes nearby.

 

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   Long range firefights and CQB in Far Cry are dictated by layout of places and player's choices/playstyle.

 

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   Tagging baddies with binoculars.

 

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   Some of dialogues can be hard only thanks to bino's microphone.

 

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   There are no mandate sniper sections in Far Cry. You are free taking any kind of gun you want. There was only 1 turret section closer to the end of Far Cry.

 

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   Different type of mercs have different stats and abilities. Sniper can see pretty far and have serious firepower. If i wasted sniper ammo earlier, my approach to this camp would be different.

 

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   Cars are triggered by script, but attaching them will make mercs either chase you, or leave vehicle (if they can't see where player is) and ssearch for a player on foot.

 

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   With sniper rifle, half of this mission avaliable area can be cleared from player's starting point. Without it i would have different type of gameplay - firefights in beaches and jungles.

 

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   Sometimes stealth can be performed indoors, but it is rare as AI don't take into account light/darkness in their visibility of player calculations AFAIK.

 

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   Mutants are just straight action, they are very aggressive and quick, have pretty hight damage output. Dump type of enemies, never liked playing with them.

 

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   Reinforcements can be triggered by either enemies (they have ability to call for help, but only in level-maker defined places as it needs noticeable amount of level scripting)

 

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   I like crushing parties with patrol boat and RCWS.

 

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   Chopper vs boat action.

 

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   Stealth is not based on scripts, so you always can try to perform it and sneak to enemies.

 

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   A lot of objectives revolve around blowing shit up.

 

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   Plot

   In Far Cry plot is generic - evil doctor Evilness is working on evil green goo that turns living creatures into evil monsters and you need to fight evil mercs to get to evil doctor and fight him in evil volcano. Positive thing that during actual gameplay plot is not getting much in the way. There are few boss fights against main baddies (like.. 4 of them that i remember), 1 of which was done by accidental grenade kill, 1 was ended with single bullet (kek). 2 others were rather standart "MY HP BAR IS BIGGER THAN YOURS!" type of bullet-spongy boss fights. 

   All "characters" in Far Cry are forgettable and in fact i don't remember name of radio voice that was talking mission objectives at me whole game and who turned out to double cross us or something like this.

 

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   Sound

   Usually i don't bother with it, but in this case i noticed that Crytek cheaped out on sound. Lots of stock sounds used for guns and enviroment. Sound of walking through bushes is basically somebody rubbing plastic bag. Overal nothing bad that make your ears reconsider their current owner, but not exactly very immersive or high-quality. 

 

   AI and enemies

   Far cry gameplay lays rather strongly on AI because of it unscripted nature and freedom of action of player, so it is worth mentioning that for 2004 AI in FC was one of the best in "AAA" shooter. AI in general feels like a multiplayer arena shooter bots. In game files you even can turn on ability of mercs to pick up health and armor (although AI don't have needed code to actively hunt for them AFAIK). All enemies have vision system and hearing system that detects actions/objects, they don't magically see player through objects and know exactly where he is (HL2 *cough*), so all decision that AI takes are based on what it can collect using vision and hearing systems and what he remember. All this makes each AI agent to be percieved (at least by me, not sure about rest of players) as separate decision-making entity, instead of script-following mindless actors like in CoDs. Hell, even their movement system is same as player's, thats why AI sometimes can get to places where AI isn't supposed to go just by using abilities of their "bodies" (i'm not speaking about glitching through, in fact i never saw them to glitch through things) AI in Far Cry can make mistakes, can be confused in way that can be possible only for enemies that don't have full information about game world state.

 

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   You are not supposed to go here, lol.

 

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   Because elevator shaft door was jammed by dead body, this guy managed to run here in attempt to investigate place from which he heard shots. Developers gave movment system that AI can't handle as well as it should have.

 

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   Heard sniper rifle shots, rushing to cover.

 

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   Not perfect cover, heh.

 

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   Heard shot, don't know where player is located. 

 

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   Enemies are rushing my last known position.

 

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   Alerted enemy when in squads fire short "check" burst in suspicious bushes. Guy on the right is shooting nowhere near me, not even in my direction, but if i was inside of that bush, i would felt it.

 

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   Scout sneaked under sniper tower, from which i fired sniper rifle several times. Scout is shooting at my last know position, and he is obviously not hitting me.

 

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   If i was still there, looking through scope, i could have received serious damage from that before udnerstanding what is going on. In such situations detection meter is not going to help you.

 

   Mutants for the most part are pretty boring, they are dumb and straight forward. Fatties are big HP pool and big damage, but slow, monkyes are quick and have lower HP and so on. Several of them have guns, 2 of them are not as boring as others - 2 humanoid mutants. One can turn invisible, another can jump long distances (but only on scripted places).

 

   Mercs are more interesting and better developed enemies, with more nuances to learn and use. First is that there are multyply types of mercs AI "characters" such as Cover, Scout, Rear Guards, Guards (indoor), Leader, Specialist, Grunt and so on. Each have different behavior, like Scout trying to sneak, flank player (uses bushes, "chain" them to get to your flanks and similar), while Cover like to... cover others mercs using... covering fire. lol. AI also can dodge your aiming circle (only certain types of enemies or if this ability was turned on by level designer for specific baddies) and move rather often (IIRC in editor it is "energy" rating). AI also can find cover pretty easily in jungles even without waypoints/cover nodes (for indoor parts waypoints and cover nodes are mandatory). 

 

   Interesting thing is that those AIs when assembled in groups will perform differently, but as a part of a group. For example Rear guards (from what devs wrote in editor manual) will try to take positions in rear of their group. Cover guys work well with other cover mercs (when pushign forward they can perform bounding overwatch) or with Scouts, covering scout's flanking attempt. So when in groups those guys have level of synergy. Indoor guards are closest to multiplayer bots - they are moving around frequently, running long distances, and because of body armor and helmets they can survive some beating to live longer than usual grunts and show off some of their abilities.    

 

   Most interesting AI type is Leader unit, who will command mercs in his squad. This commander works outdoors, that is probably why you don't see many of them indoors. They understand flanks, can move parts of his team (2-3 mercs) to attack player. Mercs behavior changes when under command of Leader - they are no longer move around randomly, move in groups, provide suppressive or covering fire (including at last known position), they can start to fire at "suspicious" sounds and so on. Although squad behavior is not fully-realised, they are areas not covered by it (which should have been, but i suspect it is part of unfinished AI abilities, leftovers of which can be found in code).

 

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   Overal AI was designed to approach wide number of situations, thats why their overal tactics was "generalised" to fit different geometry of levels/layout of area. This lead to situations when AI act not too smart - this "generlised" tactics don't fit every situation possible and don't take into account some of things that can make a some difference. Their searching for player routine is also not very good - go to LKP and look/walk around randomly after SWAT 3 looks kind of dumb. 

 

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   Let's fuck up player's day! 

 

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   Body armor sometimes makes a difference.

 

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   One of problems with "generelised" tactics. Sending somebody to scout ahead probable would have worked better outdoors.

 

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   That guy runned quite a distance to appear from a doorway behind me.

 

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   This fight was very fun. I wish there were more of this fights, when we both were moving around and trying to find good LOS on each other in deadly CQB situation. AFAIK this guy was dodging my aimign circle, and thats why he managed to avoid some of my damage output.

 

   Conclusion

   Even 15 years later Far Cry can still generate fun gameplay. I installed a mod to freshen gameplay (changes in weapons, damage and AI) and still play it. Far Cry have better gameplay (at least for me) than both HL2 and Doom3, and as time showed "attack a camp of bad guys in sandbox enviroment" games have their apeal because of players relative freedom. Far Cry's design was used to build Crysis few years later. This type of games have a flaw that some players don't like - you need to create your own fun by trying different things and not many players like to do that. But i would still recommend to try it out as it is fun (with appropriate difficulty chosen).

 

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   And follow up - i also completed Delta Sector mod for Far Cry. It is not very long, just3 missions, but have serious differences in visuals and gameplay (slower, riskier, enemies are harder to see in those new enviroments and they deal more damage so mod is more... tactical?)

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   Visually it is very impressive, a lot of models, vegetation, etc were made for this mod. 2nd mission during snowfall was really cool to play through. Mod have very different feel and gameplay, much more deliberate firefights with enemies being much harder to detect. Enemies also act differently, they stay in cover way more than vanila Far Cry AI did, they move reluctantly from safe places and so on. This is a very good modification as it brings changes to how game feels, it is not just somebody build a level in editor using all the same bits as original game. 

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   After Far Cry i completed 2009 re-release of Chronicles of Riddick, both Butcher Bay and Dark Athena. 

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   Not exactly well-timed tittle drop, haha. 2009 version have some differences with lighting compared to more basic 2004 version. Butcher bay is probably better than movies from same universe, which is very unusual for movie-licensed games. Devs that made it some time later went to other studio and made new Wolfensteins, BTW. Also, Buther bay was released before DooM 3 and also used similar tech to render shadows/bump mapping/light speculars from/on all level geometry, thats why in places it looks like DooM3, down to pitch black shadows and shiny metal parts.

 

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   You can see your body. In fact Butcher Bay have very strong sense of "presence" in game world, as body animations and camera movement are tied to each other, plus animations are made with releation to full body stances/positions, so it really feels like you control a character in the world instead of steadicam floating in the air.

 

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   During some actions camera moves to 3rd person. Gameplay wise it is probably better as it gives good visibility over things that would be outside of Riddick's vision.

 

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   Game have a not bad melee/takedown system. Not exactly deep, but it makes job done.

 

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   Weapons of prison guards are DNA-coded. This fact will be later used to guide player to a certain playstyles.

 

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   Those things will unlock some extra content, mostly concept art.

 

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   Shadow of main hero is rendered from first person as well, futher reinforcing immersion/sense of being there.

 

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   Leaning features is useful, i used it plenty of times during both stealth and action part of Butcher Bay.

 

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   Melee takedowns/finishers are quick enough to not be annoying when you are fighting more than 1 enemy.

 

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   Light system is what make those places look visually more interesting than just metal box rooms.

 

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   When crouch and in shadows Riddick is becoming Sam Fisher. Blue filter signals that you are now ver hard to see. Butcher Bay stealth is also rather simple - you are either visible to everybody or nobody, there are no states inbetween.

 

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   You also can drag bodies away, Riddick is grabbing nearest limb to do that. I like developers commitment to fully-intergrate main hero into the world.

 

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   WIthout 3rd person view, that guard would be hard to spot.

 

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   You can perform this type of takedown (shooting guards weapon from their hands in their own heads) from the front, if you time your attack in right moment.

 

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   Nanomed stations were inspired by Half-lifes med stations. Nanomeds can be refilled (you can collect packs to put them in stations) and voiced (kek). Health is based on partially regeneratable HP bar. It is broken in squares, if damage was lower than one square, it regenerate this square of HP bar. Lost blocks of HP can be refilled only with med stations.

 

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   Game also lacks usual aiming circle, instead of it you will have laser pointer. Difference is not big, but immersive.

 

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   Enemy with small arms usually have laser to alert player of where they are looking.

 

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   Wow, that is one powerfull flashlight.

 

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   Developers commitment to make player's body to feel physical in game world continues with gunplay - Riddick automatically move his weapon depending on how close are obstacles and also their shape is taken into account. He can rise weapon above shoulder level to fire over things right in front of you, fire from left/right shoulder. If you get too close to a wall weapon (depending on how long it is) will collide with it (sound of hitting object with a weapon will play) and Riddick will try to rotate it/move it to make space for himself, rendering weapon not capable firing at target. 

 

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   When you arrive to Butcher Bay prison game turns into a sort of prison life simulator with melee combat and quests.

 

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   Welcoming party arrived. 

 

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   During melee Riddick can perform 4 types of attacks depending on movement key pressed together with attack button. Plus there are blocks, you can parry/counter attack if you press attack button in right moment when enemy attack. On harder difficulty modes button mashing will not be reliable way to win fist fights. Baddies can perform normal attacks (can be blocked) and "heavy" attacks, which takes time to do, but can damage player even when attack is blocked.

   

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   I like how Butcher Bay looks, especially in those moments.

 

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   Doing some job for prisoners give you money or some useful stuff, including melee weapons.

 

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   Each melee weapon have unique takedown animation.

 

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   HP bar increased by strapping Riddick to this terrible torture machine that poke holes with giant spikes and showing furry animations right in your eyes!

 

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   Can't touch this!

 

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   You can throw bodies pretty far away... hehehehe.

 

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   Rolling will not help you.

 

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   Hand grenades are pretty serious threat in this game.

 

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   Trump is still a president in far future, haha.

 

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   All cutscenes are in engine, which is right decision IMO.

 

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   No shit, Sherlock. Writing in Butcher Bay is mostly "good enough" for setting, but sometimes it goes in direction where it loses me.

 

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   Game suddenly turns into horror shooter.

 

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   Guns have AI systems that can predict when flashlight will die because of damaged battery, apperently.

 

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   Those dwellers of lower levels are endless, but they attack in groups and in certain parts of level. Although level itself have non-linear layout.

 

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   Local weirdo.

 

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   Almost all prisoners have unique models and AFAIK most of them have unique voices, which is surprising for an action game.

 

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   Riddick got his strange eyes that can see well in darkness, but on light/flashes are going to be a problem.

 

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   Change of enviroment was well timed. 

 

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   I like to throw bodies in awkward positions, hehe.

 

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   That guy got walled

 

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   You can miss this set of clothing and go futher with normal shooting.

 

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   Nice work with lighting - instead of just copy pasting light source from this part of the room to 2nd part, level maker used different colored light to make room look more visually different and amplify depth effect.

 

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   This section can be completed by gunning down everybody, but you will miss some scenes like that. 

 

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   Every person in this part of prison can be interacted with.

 

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   Doom 3, is that you?

 

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   Butcher Bay have few atoms of humour in it. 

 

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   I WILL MAKE YOU GO THERE

 

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   Clearing area from guards silently.

 

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   New uniform. Not going to stay long on Riddick, though. During game you accumulate UDs (local money) and you can spend it on different things, like health stations rechargers, packs of smokes, weapons and so on. Even in action parts of Butcher Bay you still want to find and collect UDs, as nobody knows when you will need them. For this set of body armor i killed several guards to get enough UDs as i was 15 UDs short.

 

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   And we continue. Riddick's attempt to get out failed, but we were close.

 

Spoiler

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   And we are back to being prisoner, although now we are in deeper shit.

 

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   Next part of this game will be revolving around this circle. Or not - you have 2 options.

 

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   Corrupt guards and officers are making bets on fight between prisoners. In any other place and time attempt to punch somebody will be punished by automatic turrets placed everywhere.

 

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   Ok, i will not do that.

 

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   Shurik, lol.

 

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   We earned needed attention.

 

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   Now we can sneak around, using second-in-command's access card.

 

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   At first i tried to use melee and sneak through this area, but was not able to do that. This part of map was designed around having a range weapon that i missed...

 

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   Went back and found it - not really a small arms, just electroshocker. You still need to perform finishing move to not allow enemies to recover (they do it rather quickly)

 

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   Strange bug - a piece of elevator door is stuck in this prison guard in mech suit.

 

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   We are in mines of this prison, some of mining equipment can be used to disappear bodies.

 

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   Prisoners have different gangs, although relationships are dictated by script/plot.

 

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   Sneaking to a big toy and this guard is in the way.

 

Spoiler

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   Ow, boy.

 

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   You can exist Riotguard suit. Found in one of prison guards rooms.

 

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   Flamingos look a bit unusual. A lot of equipment in this setting look big, heavy bricks of steel.

 

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   Other side of fan from previous post, heh.

 

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   We got what we needed.

 

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   Fly away!

 

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   A lot of vents crawling in Butcher bay.

 

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   It feels like aeacg stairs had 3rd person camera position hand-placed by devs.

 

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   Oops, we got caught during placing explosives on a particaulr interesting place of mines...

 

 

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   Bomb that we placed inside one of mines did it's job and now local life forms are angry and have entry point to Butcher Bay prison.

 

Spoiler

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   Eww... 

 

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   Big carrier and small headchopper. Great.

 

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   And now we are going there, as there is no other way.

 

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   Dead body behind corner, with small bit visible. I know this cliche.

 

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   I was saving hand grenades for a big one.

 

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   Nice place to hide from it and still throw grenades. Need some good aim to get them through, but Riddick will have his body safe from alien claws.

 

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   Rearranging layout of tunnels.

 

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   Prison breakthrough simulator turned into Aliens.

 

Spoiler

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   Nice toy we got. Only 2 downsides - it is heavy = slow movement and needs time to spin up barrels assembly.

 

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   We don't have much time as this part of prison is flooded with dirty Xenos.

 

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   Sometimes game render soft shadows from some of objects. Here is 2 types of shadows casted from same model.

 

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   Well placed hand grenade allows to not deal with pixel hunting/headshot.

 

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   Reffiling medstation. 

 

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   Orange and blue colors of lights combination used a lot in this game. Not surprising, as in early/mid 2000s it was very popular combination of colors.

 

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   Only 2 weapons can be assigne to quick selection keys, but Riddick can carry all weapons he came across.

 

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   Firing directly at this robot is not advised.

 

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   Freedom smell can be felt in this moment during gameplay.

 

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   Almost out of this place.

 

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   Bye, you piece of trash of a prison!

 

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   2nd fail. Fuck.

 

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VLypvhh.jpg

   We were caught 2nd time and now we are going to be freezed. Just great.

 

Spoiler

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   Ow, we have a chance here.

 

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   Why that thing is here?

 

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   After 2 minutes Riddick was injected with something that put him to sleep.

 

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   2nd time were are out of cold box.

 

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   Let's ride with this guy.

 

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   Guards arrived. We need to get out.

 

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   Owww yeah!

 

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   This section was added for PC version only, AFAIK.

 

Spoiler

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   Yes, robot voice, i will not walk into things.

 

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   *Destroyes floor tiles*

 

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   This is cool and fun section. Stomp guards, tear through rich offices inside of big ass walking mech.

 

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   Few more atoms of humour.

 

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   Almost out of this prison.

 

Spoiler

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   Riddick stole this ship, but we are not done with Butchet Bay. 

 

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   Hello, mr Main guy.

 

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   Running away?

 

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   Probably a nice view from this office on this barren planet.

 

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   Walking away with a merc that brought Riddick here.

 

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   After Buthcer Bay i went for Assault on Dark Athena addon to original game from 2009.

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Spoiler

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   Water effects are pretty cool.

 

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Spoiler

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lT26rft.jpg

   Those "drones" are remote-controlled zombies. Without human driver they are rather easy and stupid. Their ship have rats in form of small kid and a grumpy convicted murderer.

 

Spoiler

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   Deadly hairpin.

 

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   I didn't care much where he got his strange looking knifes, but expected it to be something more than just grabbing some merc and shaking him until upgrade points and his weapons fall out of his pockets.

 

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   Big arena full of drones.

 

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   Takedowns with any melee weapon looks visceral.

 

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   This medstation have a bit strange animation - it grabs your throat and spikes you in a move that looks rather deadly. Thematically it is fitting, though.

 

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   Prisoners have unique models, voices, dialogues. Not bad, although less "RPG-like" than Butcher bay, as you no longer really get a quests from them, but rather mission objectives for next linear section of Dark Athena.

 

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   I liked voice acting made for this guy. Feels natural and real.

 

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   That guy have pretty good voice actor too, to carry this asshole character.

 

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   To the next mission!

 

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rwdNBJx.jpg

   We are in crewed part of this ship.

 

Spoiler

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   "I'm going to stab you... to increase your health!"

 

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   That is a guy that we wanted.

 

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   Came back to prisoners. A warm welcome right here.

 

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   After Riddick's rampage through part of a ship those guys decided to take guns and start to search for their second rat.

 

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   What the hell is that machine?

 

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   Ow, this is"i'm going to stab you to increased amount of health!" machine

 

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   Still searching.

 

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   Electroshocked from some distance away. Not an easiet shot in this game, as shocker rounds travel with non-instant speed.

 

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   Didn't liked this turret section.

 

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   We are back to prisoners area, but not it is full of drones.

 

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   They are remotely controlled this time.

 

49pdFDf.jpg

 

ZU4HIex.jpg

 

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KkRHD2q.jpg

   We are back to this place, but now all lights were shot down. They don't know about Riddick's build-in night vision.

 

Spoiler

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   Drones are used to find us.

 

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   Entry to other parts of this ship is open.

 

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   Prince of Space station

 

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   More gamplay, obviously!

 

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   New toys to play with

 

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   Just jam it with drone body, heh.

 

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   We were "driving" drones when Mercs were cutting door to control room, but i managed to kill Mercs before they finished. 

 

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   Gravitation core.

 

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   Dead bodies are pushed towards that core in the middle of this ship. You are also affected by this force.

 

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   Weapons are also pulled towards gravity core.

 

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   Palpatine is there, i feel.

 

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   Our ride arrived.

 

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QUhbQC0.jpg

 

Spoiler

SROGryA.jpg

 

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   Unfinished drone.

 

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   Heh, we are walking on the side of Dark Athena

 

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   Situation went out of control, mercs are cleaning decks from prisoners.

 

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   Some of prisoners want to have a talk with us.

 

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   Preparing for Metro Last Light review, i re-played original version of Metro to compare it to Redux. Missed several QOL features of Redux, lol. Some changes in AI were noticeable.

Spoiler

   In LL AI have "looking around me while turning 360" animation, which i didn't saw in Redux AI (probably was deleted because it sometimes made sneaking around too hard). Some changes in perfomance when lots of AI are active (affected frames in LL at times). Some behavior changes/rebalances - it feels like LL AI is checking places on other "levels" much more often, like areas above and below them. It appears that they are sometimes checking places that were pre-designated by devs and sometimes they are just picking random waypoint on a map nearby, which may produce "staring at a roof of this train" situation, that looks stupid.

 

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   LL AI checking entrance to service tunnels in train depo. IIRC Redux AI wasn't doing this often.

 

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   AI checking train car roof. In Redus i could place Artyom on the edge of train car and watch AI behavior while drinking tea/coffee, here AI caught me several times doing exact same thing. Assholes.

 

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   Nice lense flares.

 

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   Almost was spotted this time.

 

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   Here is one of baddies is looking inside of a storage area that is blocked for both AI and player. It appears that AI is looking at a pre-positioned/scripted point somewhere under roof of this storage area or behind upper part of a window and this may look visually ok, but doesn't make sense for gamepay.

 

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   Attention system is present in LL as well as in Redux, it is algorithm-driven head movement system basically. Here is soldir is checking a corner near entrance to second storage area.

 

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   And here he is continues to watch it, lol. One of hints that head movement is algorithm-driven as he continues to track a single point with precision.

 

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   3 man squads in LL and Redux works in same way - when in team AIs are trying to watch in different direction to avoid overlap of their vision cones/flashlights.

 

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   3 man team slow searching through area.

 

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   When in cover soldiers have a pretty wide arc in which they can track/fire. Enemy on the right basically hooked around his cover to look at my LKP.

 

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   When they hear player sprinting they can rush to that place. They do it in complete silence for some reasons, they almost always talk about something but not now.

 

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ah8MJFE.jpg

   Time to get out of this ship, as situation is becoming completely uncontrollable.

 

Spoiler

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   Nice place to put your extra content unlocking card, near 2 exoskeleton-wearing angry mercs.

 

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bx5LViu.jpg

 

Spoiler

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   A gun that can place 5 explosive charges and you can detonate them remotely.

 

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   This gun helps to open some doors.

 

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   Mini boss, armed with rocket launcher and MG. Bullet sponge.

 

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   After losing LOS it still fires his rockets for several seconds.

 

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   At long ranges it is not hard to dodge rockets, but small levels don't give much of space to move.

 

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   Last parts of The Dark Athena.

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   Review of The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay

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   The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay is a 1st/3rd person action game (mostly shooter) developed by Starbreeze as a movie license game for The Chronicles of Riddick movies, released in 2004 between Far Cry and DooM3. It was very well received, with some people finding it better than other big action games released the same year (Far Cry, Doom 3, Half-life 2 came out in 2004). Combining DooM 3-level of graphics and lighting tech while running pretty well on consoles and big budget polish of action, voice acting and so on, this game is probably better than most of movies about Riddick and rare example of movie license action game that don't suck ass.

 

   Visuals

   I played director's cut version of TCoR from 2009 with some additional visual effects, but even in 2004 it looked as advanced as DooM 3. All objects and level geometry casted real time shadows and all surfaces textures had bump maps, which was a big step forward compared to what games were just a year earlier. Ragdoll, "physics" objects, destructible light sources, etc were here as well.

   Game took place in mostly industrial-looking levels, but lighting and art direction allowed it to be not exhausting for players, and in some places showing pretty unique and memorable views. Presentation is pretty good - begining with Riddick's body being visible in 1st person and camera being tie to his head instead of being Steadycam levitating above the ground and with many actions having their own animations (like melee takedowns, healing, etc), ending with each characher in the game having unique face and voice (except generic mooks), overall game world received a lot of attention.

 

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   Gameplay

   TCoR: Butcher Bay is a mix of shooter, brawler, role-playing and stealth wrapped in a linear story of prison escape in a sci-fi setting. Game starts as a role-playing with brawler episodes when Riddick was just delivered to Butcher Bay prison and gameplay shifts together with story line to different gameplay mechanics. It is not a linear progression of gameplay mechanics, but more like a shift, remix, change, expand situation. In one moment you will play in cover-based-ish shooter, next you will have to survive through hordes of creatures while having only 1 weapon in your hands left, next you will dress up as a prison worker and sneak around, later you will be busy with "quests" from prisoners and participating in paid deathmatches and so on. General tone can shift from prison life movie to a horror, then back, then to bombastic prison escape/revenge and so on. 

   Riddick have a rather wide range of abilities - melee, takedowns, stealth abilities, shooting with different weapons from different shoulders and blindfiring, climbing, etc, which allows this rather wide range of gameplay styles. Stealth system is simple - in shadows you are very hard to see, when you are under light you are very easy to see. Sometimes there are "vehicle" sections, but they are not too scripted and you can leave them in any moment you like. Few times you will encounter bossfights, but they are not too deep on a gameplay side. 

   "Rolleplaying" parts of TCoR are less linear than action chapters - you are getting quests (if you want), do them in small semi-open world areas, trade with cash for some items and weapons (like a sharpened screw driver), talk with people like it is a Mass Effect of some sorts, do favors, shit like that. All prisoners have unique voices, faces, characters. All this makes this prison feel a bit more real. 

 

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   Usually camera is in 1st person, but for some of actions camera goes to 3rd person mode.

 

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   One of bossfights.

 

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   Action parts of TCoR have a drive behind them, shooting is enjoyable, vehicle sections are cathartic, horror moments are tense and that gives to this game a feel of participating in a crazy story of brutal and sometimes bombastic prison escape.

 

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    Assault on Dark Athena 

 

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   And i'm adding here a 2009 addon as well. The Dark Athena tells different story after Riddick escaped Buthcer Bay prison - now he will encounter mercs that are raiding remote colonies for slaves. Game follows same bits as original, but it is much more linear. Few new weapons (few new melee and an explosive charges placing gun with remote detonator), new enemies (drones, walking spider turrets and some more), drones in specific parts can be controlled directly, few new mechanics (shooting using dead drones guns, for example). It was a bit less well-received compared to original, because of not exactly cutting-edge graphics and less polish... hell, there is even a scripted turret section... 0/10! 

   Still, Athena shows some creativity of developers with levels, weapons and some of characters/enemies. Walking on a side of space craft in an exoskeleton combat suit, taking control of drones with ability to easily replace those who killed, fighting near energy source that produce gravitational pull and more, Athena have number of memorable and entertaining parts.

 

   Vertical slice of visuals:

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   Vertical slice of gameplay:

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   Conclusion

   Both games in this series are surface level fun, but it doesn't make them bad. Each gamemechanic is not too deep, but their wide range, well-timed change and mix between each other is what keeps them enjoyable. I would recommend games more than movies if you want to get into Riddick series, although Pitch Black was pretty good film.

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   Republic Commando starts exactly where Episode 2 ended.

 

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   Squad control is very easy - 1 contextual button.

 

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   You are introduced to squad members one by one.

 

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   Explosive barrels!

 

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   Night vision sections. CoD: Clone Warfare?

 

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   Drones can lose some of their parts if you shoot them, like head (robot on the right). Usually this leads to their death immediately, but in case of head destruction drones start to fire randomly around them for some time.

 

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   Big drone is going to kick smaller one from his way, like in the movie.

 

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   Tactical Star Wars: Door Breaching Begins

 

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   After throwing a grenade inside, clones are rushing in.

 

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   Some humour and banter between squadmates is nice addition to quick and a bit tactical gameplay.

 

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I have not really kept up with your play-throughs as of late, but this is the first of yours that I have played myself.  I recall enjoying it a decent amount and look forward to what your thoughts and experience will be.

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3 hours ago, Scolopax said:

I have not really kept up with your play-throughs as of late, but this is the first of yours that I have played myself.  I recall enjoying it a decent amount and look forward to what your thoughts and experience will be.

   Not much different from yours, it appears. It is decently fun, feels (for me) like a mix of CoDs of that time with few small drops of streamlined SWAT 3\4, haha.

 

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   Tactical briefings is not what most of you expect from Star Wars, haha.

 

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   Commands are executed quick and sharp by your squad. If AI was not as good as here, this whole game would be one long terrible escort mission.

 

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   Main weapon can be transformed from AR into a sniper rifle or AT grenade launcher.

 

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   Yeah, Scorch, it was a bit nasty.

 

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   ...because we are killing alien children! Pistol is a backup weapon with regenerating ammo, but weak and low energy.

 

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   In some pre-designated places you can put your squadmates and they will use their sniper rifles. They are becoming very deadly for low-level mooks.

 

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   You can place bombs/hack/slice/etc on your own or can order somebody else to do this.

 

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   You will be doing this a lot in this game. Although i like x-plosions here.

 

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   Sniper positions are highlighted on your HUD, they are pre-designated by level makers. But for the most part their location makes sense in context, so i was ok with this.

 

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   Melee is quick and deadly here, although it is not always one button press kills (depends on enemy's HP).

 

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   That is plenty of enemies, in later operations their numbers will become higher.

 

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   In assault mode squad will progress through level on its own before reaching points where you need to make a decision like door breaching/hacking/etc.

 

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   Sometimes you can either hack or breach through gates/doors and this decision have a reason to exist - enemies may not be alerted to your presence and hacking doors is stealthier option to get inside.

 

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   He grenade in. You have several types of grenades in Republic commando - HE, flashbang, EMP, mine.

 

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   Those Heavy droids are serous threat and can wipe your squad if not dealt appropriately.

 

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   Squadmates are capable in this game, don't need much of babysitting.

 

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   Regular droids are easy targets in small numbers. 

 

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   Heavy droids even after losing some parts are still capable of firing and crawling (not always, but frequent enough).

 

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   Now this is serious amount of enemies.

 

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   1 quick button press and your squad is placing explosives while others are covering.

 

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I liked Republic Commando, my only real criticism (at the time) is that some enemies are just too tank-y, especially “elite” enemies like Super Battle Droids, which, iirc, could eat 2 whole magazines worth of ammo if you’re not careful. 

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5 hours ago, Lord_James said:

I liked Republic Commando, my only real criticism (at the time) is that some enemies are just too tank-y, especially “elite” enemies like Super Battle Droids, which, iirc, could eat 2 whole magazines worth of ammo if you’re not careful. 

   Yeah, but i was ok with that because i was saving grenades for those assholes and wasn't shy using squadmates help to bring those things down. SBDs could be more fun to deal with if you could "suppress" them, or deal much more damaged to parts that lost their armor plates.

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