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Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena

Starbreeze and Tigon on their stealth remake

Chronicles of Riddick on Xbox was awesome if a little over-looked, which is why the hi-def version on Xbox 360 and PS3 is one port that's more than welcome.

But developer Starbreeze - now working with the publishing arm of Atari - hasn't just knocked out a quick transfer. Assault on Dark Athena, the second episode included in the current-gen version, is essentially a sequel to Butcher Bay and is equal in length.

There's also an all-new multiplayer game with online modes that sound very interesting indeed.

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We recently sat down with Starbreeze lead designer Jerk Gustafsson, art director Jens Matthies and Tigon Studios boss Ian Stevens on Riddick's second-coming.

Why did you decide to revisit Riddick on current-gen consoles then?

Matthies: When we made the original Riddick we did some pretty aggressive things with the Xbox 1 hardware that not many other people were doing. So when the Xbox 360 rolled along it wasn't that easy to get backwards compatibility.

The idea came up, 'hey, why don't we make a hi-def version of the original Riddick?' because a lot of people didn't get a chance to play it.

We at Starbreeze now have an engine for 360, an engine for PS3, so we can do this in one push essentially and provide all those people who never had a chance to play Riddick with a new and improved version.

When did the project turn into something a lot bigger...

Matthies: As well as remaking it we wanted to add a few levels and those few levels sort of grew into an entire game. So now we have a big package comprised of the original Escape from Butcher Bay, although everything has been improved and remade from the bottom up, and we have a new campaign, Assault on Dark Athena, which is equal in length to the original.

On top of that we also have multiplayer which we've been working on for quite a while. So in all there's probably more than 20 hours of gameplay plus multiplayer.

Gustafsson: Also it might be worth mentioning that for the PC version of Riddick we added a few levels and that's obviously what we had to work with here.

How exactly have you upgraded from the original game?

Gustafsson: Assault on Dark Athena is running on the latest version of the Starbreeze engine, which has had quite a lot of upgrades from The Darkness not just in rendering but in the sound engine, AI... which has all been applied to the old game of course. A lot of the things we did specifically for Athena worked really well in Butcher Bay.

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Have you changed anything gameplay-wise?

Matthies: I don't think you'll necessarily feel that much of a difference unless you played them side by side. What we've done is enhance the graphics, fix a lot of niggling issues such as bugs. So there's a lot of polish. And then there are some other things like people had a tendency to get lost in part of the game down in the mines, so we changed that.

Gustafsson: Yeah. There's a lot of variation in finishing moves, weapons. I think it's really well worth playing through again.

Stevens (Tigon): And then of course you can pick up some Trophies and Achievements.

So was the lack of backwards compatibility on Xbox by choice, or could Microsoft just not get it to work?

Gustafsson: No, no. We really wanted it to be backwards compatible but the problem was we had done so many things and really pushed the Xbox 1 beyond... shall we say, the recommendations (laughs).

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