Golden Axe: Beast Rider impressions

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Golden Axe: Beast Rider impressions

Bad news, kids: Golden Axe: Beast Rider won't have any co-op play. Nigel Cook, Senior Producer at Secret Level, Sega's Bay Area studio creating the arcade "reimagining", said it was a "difficult decision" to remove the original's group gameplay and "focus on one player for the first game in the franchise." So, there are going to be more titles, and "the second game in the franchise is going to have all the characters in co-op," but for the first installment it's all about perfecting the combat. Now that you've had a moment to digest the very concept of a Golden Axe without cooperative play, let's discuss that combat system.

Beast combat is what makes the game special, Cook tells us, but it's not the only combat offered. He compared the game's melee system to action paragon Devil May Cry, and the arcade's magic system is back as well. First, the beasts: There are five offered in the game including a giant gorilla, a cheetah-like cat thing that can become invisible, and the "raptor," an enormous T-Rex-esque reptile with a scorpion tail. As you can see, historical accuracy is very important in Beast Rider.
%Gallery-15436%The beasts are "disposable weapons of war" – you don't heal them and care for them; you use them and grab another. But they're also alive. If they get attacked, you'll have to deal with a feisty beastie. Your enemies can also ride beasts, so expect some hot beast-on-beast combat action.

The melee combat on display followed protagonist Tyris Flare from setup to setup, finishing off the baddies before progressing. This might require defeating a miniboss before lowering a gate, or throwing an enemy onto spikes, their blood triggering the gate's switch. The combat employs a parry and evade system to flesh out the melee – time your parry just right and you'll trigger a "cinematic brutal kill" which seems to be unique for most enemies. Some enemies are dismembered by attacks, while others may need to have layers of armor knocked off before you can deal damage to them. There's a captain / minion relationship with some enemies as well, recalling the arcade original. Defeat the minions first before trying on the captain, or they'll go into a frenzy when their leader gets whacked.

Like in the arcade original, you'll be able to kick (err, kill in this case) gnomes for colored power-ups. They've added additional power-ups, so it's not just health and magic this time. You'll be able to snag loot from them as well. The game has a reward system based on your efficacy and skill, allowing you to unlock additional weapons (up to 10, including the Golden Axe) and outfits (including the arcade's skimpy bikini).

We'll see more of Golden Axe: Beast Rider at E3 in July.
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