Rock of Ages Review

NOTE: This post is in our old review format.

Should you allow Rock of Ages to smash its way onto your console or PC?

Game InformationTitle: Rock of AgesGenre: Action/Strategy/Sports/RacingPlatform: PC, PlayStation 3 (PSN), Xbox 360 (XBLA)

Developer: ACE Team

Publisher: ATLUS

Version reviewed: PC Version (Via Steam)

 

Keep rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ rollin’

In an industry dominated by samey first-person shooters and over-used clichés, it’s nice to see a game that’s completely unique. Chile-based indie developers ACE Team aren’t afraid to produce something different, as they have proven in the past with their previous game Zeno Clash, and they’re not ready to give up on the creative approach to game design just yet.

Rock of Ages is ACE Team’s 2nd full game and was released in late 2011 and no, it’s not based on the upcoming musical film, it is in fact very different. At its core, Rock of Ages is an action/sports game with strategy and racing elements. I say it’s a sports game, but you certainly won’t see anything like this in the Olympics.

Rock of Ages is primarily an action game with strategy elements.

Rock of Ages is set in various eras throughout history, starring several well-known historic people like Leonardo Da Vinci, Napolean and… The Great He-Goat. The characters are depicted in hilarious ways, made up of what looks like paper cut-outs of the characters painted on canvas. However, there doesn’t really seem to be any storyline connecting the characters at all.

Playing with my balls

The game is split into 3 game modes. The main one is called ‘War’ mode, and is played throughout the storyline. The premise is to roll and control your boulder (which has a face on it) down a course, building up enough momentum to smash into the enemy’s fortress gate. Once the gate is down, the enemy is exposed and can be rolled over with the boulder to win the game.

It sounds very simple, but there is another side to the game. While you’re doing this, the enemy is also rolling a boulder down a separate (but identical) course in order to destroy your gate. Once your boulder has been rolled, you must wait for a new one to be built and while you are waiting, you can place various defences in order to slow down and weaken your opponent’s boulder.

As you progress through the ‘Story’ mode (which contains no story), you gradually unlock new defences to use. Defences include things like catapults, forts and wind machines, which can all be strategically placed to work very effectively. Every defence you place costs money which you accumulate while rolling your boulder.

From the short cutscenes at the beginning of each story mode match to the smaller details like how the small people on the playing field react to the huge boulders, Rock of Ages is oozing with humour. It’s a very funny game that has made me laugh on numerous occasions which, in a game, is no easy task.

In each story mode level lies 3 keys, which are obtainable through increasingly difficult means. Certain parts of the story, namely boss fights, require a specified amount  of keys to proceed and so you may need to return to a previous level to get the keys you missed. This increases the longevity of the game by giving you something to collect on the way of completing your ultimate goal, which is to get to the end of the story.

That rock won’t be so happy when it sees what’s behind it.

War mode isn’t the only single player mode you can play, however. For any level you have completed in the story mode, you can play a Time Trial mode on. This mode removes the competitive side of the game and your goal is to get from A to B within the set time. If you beat the specified times, you get a medal (either bronze, silver or gold). Personally, I found this mode quite hard and prefer War mode overall.

As I have already mentioned, the story mode features several boss battles in which you, still controlling a boulder, must defeat a boss who, in most cases is much larger than you. These fights take away the strategy elements of the gameplay, favouring special means in which the boss can be defeated like the use of weak spots.

Playing with my balls, all alone

Rock of Ages includes 2 fun multi-player game modes playable in local split-screen or online. The game modes in question are War mode and SkeeBoulder, which I’ll explain later. Unfortunately, online games are incredibly hard to find and I haven’t managed to play a single game online yet, due mainly to the unfortunate lack of players (on the PC version, at least).

SkeeBoulder is a fun little mode which is similar to the carnival game SkeeBall. The premise is simple; roll your boulder down the course collecting points as you go, fly off the ramp at the end and land in one of the rings. The rings give different point amounts depending on their location. In the end, the player with the most points wins. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to play this mode with another person, but you can practice it offline.

The music in Rock of Ages is up-beat, distinctive and fun fun fun, like Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday’ without the headache-inducing vocals or frustrating noises (ok, it’s nothing like that song). The soundtrack suits the theme and the tempo increases depending on the situation, which works very well to create a tense atmosphere near the end of a match.

 

This Trollface rock is available exclusively on the PC version, but you’ll need to unlock it first. (Image from GiantBomb.com)

Being a bit of a perfectionist, I have always liked unlocking things in games and I bought Rock of Ages thinking there would be a tonne of boulders and characters to unlock along the way. Up to this point, however, I have not unlocked a single boulder or character as far as I’m aware. There are some ways to unlock them, but I was expecting a lot more. There is a Trollface boulder though, which somewhat makes up for the lack of other boulders.

Conclusion

Overall, Rock of Ages is a fun and unique game everyone should consider buying, if only to give me someone to play with online. There is enough content present to keep you playing for a while and I’m sure the online mode would be great if anyone actually played it. The lack of exciting unlockables disappointed me, and the game can get a bit repetitive if played too much, but will ultimately keep you coming back for more for weeks.

Perfect for: People who like watching rocks with faces smash into things.
Good points:

  • Fun and unique gameplay.
  • Lots of replay value in the form of keys and online multiplayer.
  • The hilarious animations with up-beat music is sure to put a smile on your face.

Bad points:

  • The lack of unlockables.
  • Seemingly, no one plays it online, which really sucks.
Score

8.1/10

Very good

Avoid | Try | Buy

CWG Awards:

None

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