One of the jillions of games I picked up around Black Friday was 'Golden Axe:Beast Rider' for the PS3, I finally gave it a shot today. It got almost universally poor reviews, but then also some VERY high reviews... So, I was a bit confused. After playing it for over an hour, I would say that its not a bad game, just uninspired. It's VERY similar to God of War/Heavenly Sword/Conan, but sans real time events. The combat is ok, with a heavy emphasis on evade and block (which is kind of nice, switches up the button mashing of previous titles). The graphics are ok. The camera is ok. Everything is ok. Nothing is BAD, just nothing is all that great.
If the game were not called 'Beast Rider', the beast riding element might stand out as a nice addition. As is, the beast riding kinda sucks. The lion-ish thing with horns is awesome, its fast and can turn invisible, though it cannot turn around very quickly. The famous chicken thing with a ball tail from the old games is back and it SUCKS. its slow, its attacks are limited, and it takes a long time to 'reload' the attack. usually, i'll get knocked off and that chicken thing gets stolen until I end up killing it myself. it does have a badass fire attack though... but it drains its health! besides that, so far actually finding a beast has been pretty rare. only 3 times in an hour, and they die quickly.
i like the variety of the opponents. they all kind of look the same, but there are shaman, giants and scrub warriors, among ranged attacks and others. nice way to mix it up.
i love the return of the gnomes! they run around in circles as you try to catch them and beat the food and potions out of them. a fun distraction.
your character is a red headed barbarian woman (heavenly sword anyone?), health and magic come in large, smashable crates (god of war anyone else?), the level design is very similar to GoW, sans the epic events.
the game comes with a lot of options and unlockables. you can change the difficulty at any checkpoint and reread tips and whatnot on the pause menu. nice additions.
anyway... for $13, i'm not disappointed at all. still, i would recommend GoW on a last gen system over this in a heartbeat, and Heavenly Sword was a lot prettier.