Monday, 23 November 2009

Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay Developer's Cut

I recently finished the PC version of The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay which is also known as the Developer's Cut. Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay is a well-rated but very short action stealth and shooter hybrid and most reviews were right on the mark when it comes to talking about the gameplay and issues so I won't go into it with too much detail. I noticed however that very few game reviews talked about the developer's commentary mode. As a someone who aspires to be game developer I really enjoyed the in-game developer's commentary which gives a very detailed analysis of the creative and production process and for me really adds value to the product but your personal preference may vary. Few reviews actually mention how it works so I thought I would cover that in greater detail.

Here's how it works, once you've finished the game once, the developer commentary mode is unlocked. To access it, you have start a new game again and below the difficulty selection there is a new mode called developer's commentary. Unfortunately, starting a new game in this mode wipes out all your saves. In the developer's commentary, there will be Starbreeze symbols floating all around the game environment. You walk up to them and press the Use button where the developers than begin to speak. All sound and music will fade out and you will hear the developers speak.

Some of the features to note:
  • The commentary segments are fairly in-depth and some over 15 minutes long
  • Some have screenshots attached to them.
  • Hilarious swedish accents (okay okay that's just because they are Swedish, and actually they speak pretty good English)
  • Original stand-up comedy from the developers (okay okay, really its just explanations of in-house jokes)
  • Around 9 hours of commentary (according to the developers during the credits)

Problems with the commentary:
  • On the same vein as the save wiping issue mentioned above, I didn't really want to replay the game all over again and they really should have given you access to some sort of God Mode cheat so you can quickly go through the game and just listen to the commentary.
  • The commentary bits are way too long and they really should have broken it up into smaller chunks.
  • A couple of sound bugs appear because of the commentary.
  • I think they should reward you at the end of the commentary with something special like unlocking all the secrets for you since you had to replay the entire game again and listen to the weird ramblings of developers.
  • There was one section where the developers actually switched you to 3rd person perspective and I was thinking it would cool if they had more tricks like that. I was thinking they should have put in more secret sections specifically just for the developer's commentary.
  • It would have been good if they had put the energy into creating more additional levels or weapons.
Interesting pieces of information mentioned in the developer's commentary:
  • In order to create realistic blood in the game, the developer's actually used fake movie blood and sprayed it all over the shower in the office.
  • There are two simultaneous tracks running at the moment, a quiet one and an action one, hence the reason why the two can blend so smoothly together.
  • The first level you see is one of the last levels they created.
  • Pope Joe was originally designed like a bishop in rags but was changed later as a request by VUG I think (well basically whoever was funding it).
  • When facing a heavy guard, the high detail version explosive casters on the rails are corrupted and there is a vertice sticking out if you look at it at close range.
  • There is a context sensitive kill in the game in the mines where you can push someone into a grinding machine. Apparently there are a couple more.
  • There a bug where there is a small chance you can actually teleport from the space platform near the end of the to the upper mines again by pressing the use button around a door.
  • Part of the reason why the level are so claustrophobic is due to the processing power of the Xbox which wouldn't have been able to handle very large levels with so much detail (I think that's right).
A bug I found:
  • If you drop a minigun and pick it up again it goes back to full ammo. Weird.

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