These days, Vin Diesel is a name that's synonymous with the Fast and the Furious movie franchise. With a series of movies that's ten blockbuster films strong under his belt, it's safe to say that Vin Diesel can just ride the films all the way to the bank.
It's crazy to think that, just a little over a decade ago, this wasn't the case. Sure, Vin Diesel had already starred in two Fast and Furious films at that point, but they hadn't come to define him as much as the films do now. Back then, he was also known for his other ventures- in particular, for founding Tigon Studios in 2002, which is the video game subsidiary of Diesel's One Race Films studio.
Vin Diesel and Tigon Studios
For nearly a decade since its foundation, Tigon Studios would have a hand in multiple games starring Vin Diesel, his likeness, as well as his voice work. The success of the games seemed as if it would guarantee that the studio would continue making video games starring Vin Diesel for a long time.
Unfortunately, Vin Diesel would stop video game development work to focus more on his Hollywood movies, which helped him become one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood today.
Now that Mr. La Familia's schedules have cleared up a bit, it is looking like he's going back to one of his earlier passions, which is gaming. For those that don't know, Vin Diesel is a life-long gamer and rumored to have spent nights playing World of Warcraft with Ronda Rousey while filming Fast & Furious 7.
In a recent interview, Vin Diesel talked about the possibility of releasing a new Riddick video game, in conjunction with an upcoming film.
While neither is officially announced yet, we thought it would be a good idea to look back on some of the games that Mr. Quarter Mile at a Time has starred in the past. Note that we're not including Ark 2 on the account that it hasn't been released yet.
Fast & Furious: Crossroads (2020)
Fast and Furious: Crossroads was developed by both Slightly Mad Studios, a subsidiary of Codemasters, as well as Tigon Studios. Because it was Tigon Studios' first game in nearly a decade and based on the now extremely profitable and popular Fast and Furious franchise, many had high hopes for Fast and Curious: Crossroads.
It also didn't help temper expectations that both Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel would go on to announce Fast and Curious: Crossroads at the 2019 Game Awards.
Unfortunately, Fast and Furious: Crossroads was anything but good. Despite being made by a subsidiary of Codemasters, the same people behind the Dirt and F1 racing sim franchises, the game was largely panned.
The game had the production value that's the exact opposite of AAA title that should have accompanied a big franchise with abysmal driving mechanics, and a short story that was largely forgettable.
The only redeeming factor is that the game featured cameos from several fan-favorite characters. Even then, these weren't enough to make Fast and Furious: Crossroads worth playing.
Riddick: The Merc Files (2013)
Tigon Studios' first game back from a long hiatus was a solo project based on the Riddick franchise.
Because of how great the first two Riddick games were, audiences assumed that Riddick: The Merc Files would at least be good enough to burn through a couple of hours on the iOS. It wasn't.
Unlike the first two Riddick games, which married interesting stealth mechanics and gameplay with a memorable story, Riddick: The Merc Files had neither of those. You're given zero tools or skills at your disposal. All you can do is just hide in the shadows and snap some necks, which grows old rather quickly.
If it's any consolation, Riddick: The Merc Files signaled the return of Tigon Studios.
Wheelman featured Vin Diesel in the driver's seat as Milo Burik, an undercover American sent to infiltrate Barcelona's biggest gangs.
As a driving game, Wheelman does a great job at making you feel like you know what you are doing. It's as if it was a Fast and Furious game in all but name already. It let you perform maneuvers like swerve into enemies and ram them from behind, as well as jump from one car to another or even to another motorcycle.
Wheelman even takes a few notes from the Matrix and Max Payne films as it lets you shoot at enemies from an over-the-shoulder perspective in slow-motion, which is amazing.
While these awesome Hollywood action hero moments make up a huge portion of the game, the other aspects are so bad that they just drag the entire game down. The missions are very repetitive and the entire story is fairly short. Even if you take your time playing through everything that Wheelman had to offer, you'd probably be able to 100% it in less than 12 hours.
The only problem is that the game doesn't really give you a good reason to play through the entire main storyline let alone finish all the optional side missions.
Stupid AI, repetitive missions, and just downright awful on-foot gameplay, all prevented Wheelman from what could have easily served as the template for a game based on the Fast and Furious franchise.
The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena (2009)
Just months after releasing Wheelmen, Tigon Studios would go back to its Riddick roots with Assault on Dark Athena. It would serve as Tigon Studios' last game before its infamous hiatus. Once again, Starbreeze Studios was behind the game's development with Atari serving as the game's publisher.
As a sequel to Escape from Butcher's Bay, Assault on Dark Athena shipped with a free copy of its predecessor with improved graphics. However, unlike Butcher's Bay, Dark Athena was not a movie tie-in. Instead, it served as a standalone title with a self-explanatory story that sees Vin Diesel as Riddick assaulting the Dark Athena ship.
While Assault on Dark Athena was a good stealth-based FPS title, it wasn't as good as Butcher's Bay. This was made evident by the fact that most people remember it as the game that came with Butcher's Bay for free.
The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay (2004)
Tigon Studios' first game, The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher's Bay, is its best ever. Even though it wasn't the main developer or publisher, Tigon Studios worked closely with Vivendi Universal Games (publisher) and Starbreeze Studios (developers).
At the time, there were reports that Vin Diesel was so involved in the production of the game that he was the one responsible for not giving the game complicated RPG mechanics. He was also the one who suggested cutting down on Riddick's dialogue. This way, his in-game script would fit in with the character's personality better.
All of these decisions proved successful for Escape from Butcher. The game went on to receive critical acclaim and commercial success. Its story, which was set before 2004's Chronicles of Riddick movie, received a lot of praise. The game was also considered one of the best-looking titles at the time, with many going as far as to describe it as being better compared to its movie counterpart.
What makes Escape from Butcher's Bay such a great game is that it took its time building the world around you. Your unique fellow inmates all have stories to tell about you, themselves, and everything else. You're also sent on the occasional side quest that helps flesh out the lore behind Riddick. In particular, who he is, where he came from, and how he sees the world, both literally and in a figurative sense.
As for the actual gameplay itself, Escape from Butcher's Bay put players in the role of Riddick. Just as the name suggests, he's trying to escape from the maximum-security prison known as the Butcher's Bay.
What's Next for Tigon Studios and Vin Diesel?
Tigon Studios is not the most prolific studio in the video game industry. The few games it developed on its own were not even that memorable. Even so, Vin Diesel's studio deserves a lot of credit. It put in the time to make video games based on Hollywood movies when Hollywood wasn't even interested in making good video games.
It's amazing to think just what Tigon Studios accomplished, essentially being a passion project of a Hollywood megastar who also happens to be a video game enthusiast.
Here's to hoping that Vin Diesel restarts Tigon Studios to work on the next Riddick game. If not, we'd happily settle for a remastered version of Escape from Butcher's Bay and Assault on Dark Athena for the PS5 and Xbox Series S/X.