TomChick - :60 Reviews - Comments - 06/14/04
Riddick is in prison. After his first failed escape attempt -- there will be about five or six before one of them finally takes -- he gets put in Double Secret Probation Detention, or something like that. He's about to venture into a small courtyard where prisoners go to recreate. Of course, I'm playing Vin Diesel, who's playing Riddick. The whole Riddick thing is pretty sketchy, though, since there wasn't a single time the game flashed to third person that I didn't think, 'Hey, look, it's Vin Diesel'.
Which is always a nice surprise, even when he's delivering stupid lines like "I play the hand I'm dealt, and then I cheat". Some people might explain to Vin that once you've already played your hand, it's too late to cheat. But I wouldn't bother because I think of him as a dorky guy who's trying to look tough but isn't fooling anyone. He's the kind of guy who would come over to my house and help me unlock one of the really hard co-op missions in Rebel Strike, then we'd play Rallisport for a while, then I'd show him how cool Mark of Kri is, and finally he'd have to leave to go work out. Vin doesn't have any of Van Damme's Euro-snobbery, Stallone's thick-headed arrogance, or Schwarzeneggar's Hollywood preen. The joy of Diesel, which is part of what drives Riddick, is geeks like me watch him and get a sense he's one of us. One of us, one of us, one of us.
Anyway, I'm about to go into the recreation courtyard. There's a giant concrete door with block lettering that says 'No Talking in the Courtyard'. While I'm waiting on the giant door to slowly open, I realize I've misread it. It says 'No Fucking in the Courtyard'. Which is funny. Just past this door I'll hear a great conversation about "Sigmund Floyd, the guy who discovered the mind". This is also funny. But what's funny -- and not necessarily funny 'ha ha', but funny 'hmm, how about that?' -- is that I'm about to beat to death one of the guys having this conversation in the Non-Fucking Courtyard.
Riddick is riddled with these kinds of shifts in tone and action. It goes from funny to grim, from stealth to action, from talking to shooting, from guns to knuckles. It's even got a completely over-the-top distinct finale that makes it worth playing to the end. It's range is what makes it as good as it is. And although it may not be as good as you've heard -- the design suffers from a fair amount of gameyness and tedium -- it's certainly better than anything based on a two-bit license like this deserves to be.