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Golden Age: Beast Rider XBox 360 Review - -

Gameplay 8.0
Graphics 8.1
Sound 8.0
Value 8.0
Distributor: SEGA
Review Date:
October 2008
James Wright


Golden Age: Beast Rider

Before consoles were in the affordable reach of the masses and before home consoles boasted better graphics than the arcades, there was a very addictive game by SEGA called "Golden Axe".


  • Mounted combat: Unleash a barrage of bites, claws and special attacks, as well as furious swings from the Hero’s own weapon.
  • On-foot combat: In line with the series’ lineage, on-foot combat plays a key role in this game, allowing players to alternate between light attacks, heavy attacks, blocks, ripostes, magic, and grappling.
  • Realistic dismemberment: Not only will limbs and heads fly off in sword combat, the beasts in Golden Axe Beast Rider will be able to tear enemies apart as well.
  • Fidelity to the classic games: Environments, magic, enemies, and beasts are designed to evoke fond memories of the original games.
  • Robust single-player campaign: Single player adventure offers more than 12 hours of critical-path gameplay; the option to choose from one of three heroes to play as increases replay value.

This title featured three powerful warriors, a barbarian, a dwarf and an Amazon who were given the task of ridding the lands from a nefarious evil in this classic side scrolling hack ''n' slash game which was truly one of the most memorable games of the time.

Although gaming has progressed in leaps and bounds since then, SEGA have dusted off the franchise in the latest addition to the series entitled Golden Axe: Beast Rider which is oozing with classic sword and sorcery stereotypes. Unlike the original game, the story revolves around the lithe Amazonian, Tyris Flare who has seen her mystically sisterhood slaughtered by the nefarious Death Adder who also happened to the be the villain from the original title.

To compound the situation, a great and ancient dragon has also been defeated by Death Adder and it's up to Sword and Sorcery Wonder Woman to once again liberate the world of man from this hideous evil.

The game uses some great pre-rendered cutscenes to engross you into the story and also some on-screen text which appears through letters which can be found throughout the environment. The cutscenes are gorgeous, although I wasn't a fan of the letters which is truly a thing of the gaming in the 80's. Fortunately, the text screens are rather short.

The gameplay of Golden Axe: Beast Rider is extremely reminiscent to Conan (THQ) as you control your character through a 3D gaming universe as you hack and slash your way to victory. Fortunately for Tyris, she has a vast plethora of combat maneuvers up her sleeve, including magic and beasts which can be ridden in order to assist you in your travels. With over the top battles and some quite gruesome battle scenes, this game would not look out of place in those classic Sword and Sorcery tales.

Although you have a number of basic attacks which can be performed, where the game does come into its own is through the special maneuvers which is a combination of feigns and attacks. For instance, by ducking to one side (generally, this is indicated by colours), you can then perform a finishing maneuver on your foe which does take a little time to master and initially is quite frustrating.

Tyris also has access to a variety of different magic's which can be accessed through the D-Pad, although you are limited how much you can use which neatly balances the gameplay. Fortunately, health and mana can be regenerated throughout the game from mystics portals to chests and those pesky little gnomes who were a staple of the original game also return.

These little dark gnomes run around your character and by hitting them with your sword or magic, they leave behind potions, either for health or mana to assist. Tyris has the ability to jump, however the world of Golden Axe: Beast Rider is quite limited in where you can jump, even though you would expect to be able to jump on a stone block. This is probably one of the biggest flaws of the game which limits the gaming environment and sometimes feels like you are boxed in. Storywise, it is quite linear.

Graphically, the title is quite impressive on the XBox 360 with some quite detailed gaming environments, although the title does suffer from "pop-ups". Tyris herself is well animated and interacts quite well with the environment and her look is the classic sexy Amazonian with not much to wear but with an attitude that kills.

There is a great effect in the game with the sunlight reflecting on Tyris' blades that at times looks quite realistic. The enemies are quite detailed as are the texture details but the next impressive aspect to the graphics are some of the beasts that you can ride and truly adds to the genre of this title.

Match that with a variety of special effects and lighting effects plus some realistic cloud effects and overall, this game is one of the better titles available of this genre.

The pre-rendered cutscenes are truly awe-inspiring and give you that added incentive to finish the title. Musically, the title features a typical "Sword and Sorcery" soundtrack that although quite over top suits the genre perfectly and for such a clichéd game, the voice acting of the title is quite professional and does not sound too contrived.

In conclusion, Golden Axe: Beast Rider is a solid game, although there are some issues such as the awkward parrying system and the popups which does take the shine from the game, it is still quite playable and enjoyable. Golden Axe: Beast Rider is game that is quite rare these days as it features your traditional hack 'n' slash gameplay which is reminiscent of God of War and Conan. This game is definitely for those gamers who enjoy the fantasy genre or even those who loved the original game.


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