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Kimberley Ellis
23 Feb, 2009

Golden Axe: Beast Rider Review

PS3 Review | This axe isn't quite golden.
Most of us twenty-something gamers will clearly remember the days of sitting around with a group of friends (or crowding around the arcade machine depending on the scenario) who would critique every move you made while playing the through the older Golden Axe titles. They were games that were fun to play either on your own or with a friend in co-op as you'd hack-and-slash your way through the game’s challenging but fun levels. When Golden Axe: Beast Rider was announced there was a wave of excitement, but at the same time there was nagging thoughts of skepticism creeping in. The question on the minds of those of us that spent hours upon hours with Sega's side-scrolling masterpiece back in 1989 was “Could it recapture the feeling of the original series of titles?” and the answer to that question is a firm "No!"

Tyris Flare returns for another adventure.

Tyris Flare returns for another adventure.
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But after playing around in the world of Beast Rider for a few hours, you soon realise that the game is not trying to replicate the original series. Instead developer Secret Level was trying to throw new things into the mix, while leaving out those that fundamentally made the Golden Axe experience. The most glaring omission from the game is the fact that there is no co-op mode whatsoever - which is quite disappointing when you consider that co-op gameplay is tacked on to so many titles these days - taking away the social aspect that the series had thrived on. Sadly, this also results in the game only containing one playable character, Tyrus Flare - the Amazon heroine that appeared in the original Golden Axe game.

The story of the title is simple enough, Tyrus is urged to journey forth on a quest to reassemble the Golden Axe. That's about as deep as it gets, from here the game pretty much boils down to killing enemies, putting together the axe and saving the world from evil - the usual stuff that we expect from a hack ‘n’ slash adventure.

This sword is made for hacking.

This sword is made for hacking.
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While the plot is decidedly ho-hum, the game's visuals are not. Visually, the game looks superb, the stunning details showing the time that the artists have taken to create some detailed character models and enemies. The gameplay is smooth and fluid, and the loading times are quite short in comparison of some other titles. While the character models show great attention to detail, the level design is just as good if not better. A lot of time and effort has gone into creating some unique levels which just blow you away with how they have captured the game world. The only downside to their beauty is the invisible walls that prevent you from wandering off the beaten path and exploring the wonder of the artist's creations. It's also a shame that the game rewards you for completing a level in a certain amount of time, as the emphasis on these speed bonuses tends to keep players from truly experiencing the game's visuals, which really is a shame.

The game's combat is pretty straight forward - players have access to a few basic attacks, some heavy attacks, a knock back attack and magical attacks. While the basic moves make slim pickings of the little minions, players will really need to master the counter attack system if they want any chance of taking on the big boys. To do this the enemy will flash a particular colour (orange for dodge attacks, blue to parry and green to perform either) and to perform a counter you need to press the correct trigger (left for dodge, right for parry) for that colour. Initially, this system can take a bit of getting used to and by the time you've mastered it the game throws another spanner in the works when you are faced with multiple enemies, making a simple control mechanic quite cumbersome. It's these moments where you really get to see just how frustratingly repetitive the gameplay is - wait for enemy to attack, counter the attack and repeat. It also takes some of the skill away from the title as new enemies are almost a little too easy to finish off thanks to the game telling you which move (by colouring the enemy) to use on an enemy to take them down. The only real heartache you'll get from this game is the unpredictable boss battles, but essentially the gameplay all boils down to the same thing.

A counter attack would be great right about now.

A counter attack would be great right about now.
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Whether you're a Golden Axe fan or not, a couple of hours with Golden Axe: Beast Rider will almost certainly have you of the opinion that it just isn’t a very good game. Though, it’s not quite as bad as some critics have claimed, the fun within this title is so short-lived that fans of the long-running series would be better off dusting off a copy of the original title to reminisce of the days when Golden Axe was king.
The Score
Golden Axe: Beast Rider had the potential to be the second coming of the Golden Axe franchise, instead it left fans of the long-running series mulling over what could have been.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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5 Comments
5 years ago
I miss the good ol' days. I really loved Golden Axe and if all they had of done was give a visual and audio upgrade I would have loved this just as much. Also, CO-OP was always a must for this game.
5 years ago
At least I got this game for free. It seems so similar to Conan (which was fun, except for the quick time event bosses and the guys with spiky shields) but the counter system is a pain in the ass. I'm not sure co-op would work in a 3rd person game like this, but it would have been a lot more fun with it than without.
5 years ago
You know I may buy this game one day when it is REALLY cheap.
5 years ago
I laughed at the second picture (in the review, not down the bottom) as she seems to hit him in the chest, but sparks fly at his feet. Doesn't make sense, but hey, this seems like one of those one night hire game where you go WOW! and then meh after one night
5 years ago
I really don't know why people are rating this game so low. It's a really fun little brawler in the "kill 5 guys and move on" spirit of the original. If you spot it on a bargain table for 50 bucks or less, pick it up.

I'd rate my own experience of it a 7 or 8 out of 10, with the only real downside the underwhelming bosses. 4.5 is just being mean.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  16/10/2008 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $99.95 AU
Publisher:
  SEGA Australia
Genre:
  Action RPG
Year Made:
  2008

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