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Golden Axe: Beast Rider – travesty!

When review code doesn’t arrive for a game more than three weeks before release, it’s usually a bad sign. While Sega has had numerous opportunities to demo Golden Axe: Beast Rider to us over the past year or so, it has chosen not to, which suggests that the company doesn’t take a lot of pride in this ‘re-imagining’ of the classic Mega Drive/Genesis franchise.

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Yesterday, though, just over a week before release, I received a promotional copy of the boxed product. Since I’m charitable and my evenings are worthless, I decided to put it on out of sheer optimism. Secret Level appears to have been working on the game, in one way or another, since 2006. The guys who ported Final Fight: Streetwise to the Xbox couldn’t pull off a total botch job, could they?

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Well, you saw the title of this post – they obviously did. Beast Rider is an odd hybrid of the original Golden Axe, God Of War and last year’s Conan title on the Xbox 360. The enemies repeat endlessly and the animation is embarrassing, to the point where even the perennially debilitated Dynasty Warriors series outdoes it.

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The combat is based on a horrible block-or-evade mechanic, where the colour of each enemy attack determines which action you should take. If nothing else, I was impressed by the volume of body parts and blood flying around, after I severed, pierced and maimed each enemy, but not enough to quell the overall feeling of irritation towards the laziness of the game’s design. Worse still, the whole Beast Rider gimmick feels a little like getting in an AT-ST in Lego Star Wars: everything is insultingly simplistic and throwaway.

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It’s a good job Golden Axe: Beast Rider came in too late for review. This weekend, do yourself justice and download the Valkyria Chronicles demo off the PSN – savour how significant post-hardware Sega can be.




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