My review of The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena is up now at thephoenix.com. I had not had the good fortune to play Escape from Butcher Bay before now, and I think you can tell that I focused on it a little bit more in the review than the new game. Assault on Dark Athena is damn good in its own right, though. I've read a few reviews that seem to think it's weaker than Butcher Bay, which may be true, but it's a little more tightly focused with regards to the stealth element, and, I think, a little more successful on that score. Either way, you can't go wrong with the whole package. Highly recommended.
I want to expand a bit on one point in the review, which I think gets at the real reason why Starbreeze has been so successful with the Riddick games, and with The Darkness. It's simply this: Their plots make sense. You always understand what your character is doing, and why. Riddick has to accomplish fetch missions, but they're not burdened with a bunch of useless filler.
For example, in Butcher Bay, you meet a character named Pope Joe, who will do you a favor if you retrieve his "blessed voice box," which is really a radio. In most games, this would be the perfect opportunity to throw a bunch of enemies at you, toss in some gratuitous puzzles, and make you walk down one identical hallway after another. Instead, you go down a ladder, walk around a corner, blasting some mutants along the way, and there it is. The whole thing takes about two minutes. I seem to recall, when Butcher Bay came out, that the biggest strike against it was its alleged brevity. But it's so well paced, and so smartly designed, that I think the worst thing Starbreeze could have done would be to artificially inflate the playtime.
While playing both Chronicles of Riddick games, I was reminded, yet again, what a marvel The Darkness was. There was a game that clearly conveyed what the stakes were, and what motivations were driving its characters. I can think of few games that progressed so logically, and so tragically, toward a conclusion. The plot wasn't about saving the world or anything like that. It was about two guys who hated each other, and whose aggression escalated beyond all reason. I can think of few games in which I cared so much about what happened to the people in it. Maybe that's the biggest compliment I can give -- that I thought of them as people.