The trouble with revisiting and re-releasing old games is that despite the visual facelift they receive, essentially the core mechanic of the game remains the same, which can often remove the rose tinted specs therefore exposing certain elements which have become dated or irritating. Its been 5 years since Butcher Bay was first released and there are elements that haven't dated particularly well which drag the whole experience down slightly.
Visually, its looking awesome, as you perhaps might expect. Textures are noticeably better, lighting is more dynamic and interesting, sky boxes are more detailed etc etc - but its a sexy skin draped over fairly old level design, so although looking lovely you're stalking fairly simple corridors and non interactive areas which often offer little to relieve the linearity. Not a huge problem in 2004, but we all expect a little more from our games these days.
Too often, although Starbreeze would apparently really like you to employ stealth, theres simply no way to carry it through, resulting in a corridor trawl based entirely on trial and error. An inability to find or use dropped weapons means that stealth is the ultimate goal, but often you don't have the tools to accomplish this, a fact compounded by the simplicity of the level layouts - the corridors are pretty but not hugely functional, with often not nearly enough in the way of alternate stealthy routes, or hiding places. Numerous times you'll have no choice but to walk boldly down a corridor taking on gun toting enemies with nothing but your fists. Being forced into confrontation feels completely at odds with how you feel you ought to be playing the game and it happens far too often. Rather than rely on the environment, eg the audio clues, the visual clues etc to assess and neutralize the threat, generally its down to trial and error, die and reload, to scout many areas and find the best way through. Why for instance have the ability to turn off/shoot out lights to create the darkness you require to progress in a stealthy fashion, when this is entirely negated by the fact that the guards simply turn on their torches and compounded by the fact that the simplisitc level design has you in a corridor devoid of nooks or crannies for you to hide in leaving you no option to avoid detection, forcing you into a firefight. In the dark.
Essentially you don't have enough ways to make the Stealth approach work, yet you're often forced to try by an inability to make the shooting work.
In many places everything descends into a straightforward shooter, which although nicely kinetic simplifies things even more until you're just rushing from A-B pausing to admire the lighting. Occasionally you'll hit further trial and error design where stealth would appear to be the way forward, but often its a simple case of blasting your way through - its not until the stealth route has failed a few times that you resort to the brainless shooting that generally works.
The result is a game which often isn't half as clever as my pink spectacles would have me remember and often feels like two unreconciled halves which sit unhappily alongside each other.
Its not all bad news though. When it does work, its fairly compelling - when the envinronments expand slightly to give you the element of choice, and the design is such that there is a wealth of hiding places to scuttle between as you snap necks, its happily engrossing stuff, giving you that 'bad ass' emotional connection that playing as Riddick should engender. Its just a shame that its not clever enough to make stealth work, and too simple and not adequately designed to make shooting a satisfying alternative.