Rock of Ages|
If you didn’t play Rock of Ages on the Xbox or PC last year, than you might want to check out this humorous mix of Monkey Ball/Marble Madness and tower defense now on the PS3. The same people that brought you the insanity that is Zeno Clash have created another unique game with odd, yet enjoyable character, and is definitely worth checking out even if it does get a little stale.
The best way to understand what Rock of Ages actually is would be to go and play it, but considering you’re probably reading this because you don’t have the game, I guess I might just have to explain it to you. You control a giant boulder, and you must roll this boulder down a hill in order to smash through your opponent’s castle wall and squish his or her leader. Pretty straightforward so far, right? Well at the same time you’re doing this, your opponent is also rolling a boulder down a hill to smash through your castle wall to squish your leader, and all the while, in between the multiple attempts at rolling down the hill, each of you is able to set up defenses like towers, exploding barrels, catapults, and even war elephants to block your opponent's path, slow their boulder’s momentum, or damage their boulder so that it does less damage to your castle door. Oh, and each hill you roll down has a completely different layout with different obstacles and places that you are able to lay down defenses. Hopefully I helped you understand it a little bit seeing as this is pretty much the basis for the entire game. (There is an Obstacle Course, and Skee Boulder mode, but those are pretty self explanatory.) Even the single player is basically like multiplayer with some referential ridiculous comedy thrown in.
And that brings me to the other strange, yet pretty awesome part of Rock of Ages. Now, I said “squish” earlier because when you run over the leader with your boulder they always scream like a girl, and then make a farting sound I can best describe as sounding like a squish. This pretty much sums up the extremely silly Monty Python style cut out comedy that ACE Team was going for, and it works amazingly. In single player you play as Sisyphus who is rolling his bolder through time and waging war against many famous military leaders including Leonidas and Charlemagne, but also pitting you against The Pope, the angel Michael, and even a zombie Plato & Aristotle. At the start of each new stage there’s a cutscene that references everything from the Lord of the Rings to Castlevania, adds some hilarious backstory for your coming boulder fight, and gives the game a great personality. If Rock of Ages didn’t use this crazy story telling device, I would probably have gotten bored of its single player mode fairly quick, and this is the biggest problem with the game.
Although the concept is unique and fun at first, as you play you start to realize that the same strategy works for basically every level as follows: 1. Place defenses as close to your castle door as possible to stop momentum, 2. Start rolling down the hill as soon as you can and basically race your opponent down the hill because no matter what happens it will almost always take three hits of the castle door to break it. For doing my due diligence when reviewing the game I tried to use many different tactics and set up defenses in different ways, but I always found that the same strategy that worked on the first easy levels, works on even the hardest ones.
However, this is only true of the single player. Whether playing online or split screen, multiplayer is really where the Rock of Ages shines. They could have done a better job at balancing the single player and making it a bit more challenging, but playing the game against actual people easily makes up for any sense of repetition when playing by yourself. The game seems to be designed with multiplayer in mind seeing that even the single player is basically a vs. mode against the A.I. So even though the gameplay eventually became dull, I had to keep in mind that it is extremely hard to make an A.I. opponent smart enough to consistently challenge a real person without making it feel like the A.I. is cheating.
The lack of difficulty in the single player, as well as the boss battles are really my biggest complaints. There are four bosses throughout the entire game, and although each one tries to change the formula to make the game more interesting, the levels often result in a frustrating uphill battle against momentum that is tedious rather than fun. Rock of Ages is really unlike anything out there today, which is something I don’t think I can say very often. Although I have some complaints about the single player, I still think the game is definitely worth checking out for the unique gameplay, silly story, and amazing multiplayer.