Golden Axe: Beast Rider
|Golden Axe: Beast Rider|
|Composer(s)||Keith Arem, Michael Cohen, Kristian Hedman|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 3, Xbox 360|
|Genre(s)||Action-adventure, Hack and slash|
Golden Axe: Beast Rider is an action-adventure hack and slash video game for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, published by Sega and developed by Secret Level. It is the first 3D entry in the Golden Axe franchise, as well as the first "mature" game in the series (for featuring blood and partial nudity). The game was released in North America on October 14, 2008 and in Europe on October 17.
Beast Rider is the first Golden Axe game in 3D as opposed to side scrolling hack and slash. While this is a major shift in game style from the previous games, Beast Rider maintains many of the elements from the originals such as magic and riding beasts, as well as sending the player on a quest to defeat Death Adder.
Gameplay is divided into three types: Campaign, Challenge and Trials. Each mode allows for the collection of tribute, which is used to increase magic strength and unlock weapons. Armor is unlocked as one progresses through the story or Campaign.
In the story mode of Beast Rider the player controls Tyris Flare, an amazon from the original games. Through the story mode the player is introduced to two non-player characters Gilius Thunderhead the dwarf and Tarik the Ax Battler. Tribute is awarded at the end of each level based on the amount collected multiplied by the players performance during the level, which also affects the players Class or "grade" per level. Such multipliers include time, damage taken, dismemberments and difficulty settings.
Challenge mode plays the same as Campaign, including tribute and class at the end of each level. However, Challenge allows the player to replay any level previously completed in Campaign, in addition to being able to use any armor previously unlocked, as well as any weapon unlocked through the collection of tribute.
Trials mode is the equivalent of the original's "Duel" mode, in which the player battles enemies of the selected level in an arena from that level. Each level becomes available in Trials after it is completed in the campaign. The player must complete ten waves of enemies, plus three bonus waves featuring gnomes, without dying. Like the Challenges, Trials allows the player to select various armor and weapons unlocked in Campaign or through the collection of tribute.
The main protagonist is Tyris Flare, an athletic young woman with red hair and green eyes. She wears an outfit made from leather and bone, with white paint over her eyes. She is a great warrior and defender of the Axirian Priestesses, a sect of dragon worshippers from the Isle of Axir. Tyris' skills in combat and magic are almost unsurpassed, but there is a danger rising over Axir that even she must fear. Death Adder's armies are on the move. They are after the power of the ancient Dragon Titan. It is rumored that even Death Adder fears something about the Titans, though nobody really knows what power they possess over this dark lord. If he gains control over man, woman and beast alike, it is unknown what will become of the world. Tyris uses sword and sorcery to stop him.
The project's development began in mid 2005 as Secret Level simultaneously worked on a new game engine and toolset for the project. Most of the studio's directors were directly involved at this stage. The early progress was quick and impressive, leading Sega to move to acquire the studio on April 3, 2006.
As part of E3 2006, Sega issued a press release touting a new entry to the Golden Axe franchise for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 A teaser trailer could also be seen during the event. During the summer of 2007, fans uncovered new art and sculptured models from the game.
The October 2007 issue of Play magazine offered new details. The game was revealed to feature the return of Tyris Flare, the amazon warrior from the first installment of the series. With a heavy focus on riding beasts, the game received an M rating since dismemberments, decapitations and nudity are present. The magazine also claimed that the PlayStation 3 version was canceled and that the game would be an Xbox 360 exclusive. However, on October 19, 2007 Denny Chiu of Sega denied the Xbox exclusivity, stating "Completely untrue, it's coming to PS3 as well." While this game does only feature single-player, in a 2008 interview the senior producer stated that the second game in the franchise will feature co-op throughout.
The 2008 issue of the annual "girls of gaming" put out by Play Magazine featured a number of images of Tyris. A postmortem of Golden Axe: Beast Rider by project producer Michael Boccieri, which appeared in the February 2009 issue of Game Developer Magazine, discussed the project's troubled development cycle.
Beast Rider received generally unfavorable reviews, with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 version receiving Metacritic scores of 44/100 and 45/100 respectively. IGN gave it a 3.2/10 rating with a closing comment, "This is a game worth avoiding like the plague, even if the classic remains deep and warm within your heart." GamePro called it "poorly designed and utterly mediocre," "a terrible game that feels like a slap in the face to fans of the original franchise." TeamXbox gave the game a 6.8 rating. GameTrailers' sister site ScrewAttack.com's editor Ben Singer criticized it due to awkward controls, lack of music, and frustrating combat. G4tv's X-Play gave the game 2/5 stars.
Play scored Beast Rider a 9/10 in their October 2008 issue. Separately, in an editorial titled "Dave talks Golden Axe", Play editor Dave Halverson wrote "The majority of these people (can't call them critics) either didn't complete a fraction of the game, don't understand game design, or just plain suck at games", and that "to score Beast Rider below a 7 is just irresponsible."
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