Rock of Ages (the video game, not the movie) is an interesting bowling/tower defense game from the development team at ACE. You are in control of a boulder and your goal is to make it to the end of the course and squish your opponent while preventing your competition from bowling their rock into your base where your hero is kept. At the beginning of each round you will bet the chance to build up your defenses in order to slow your enemy down. Of course they will be doing the same to prevent you from rolling over their leader. But you will have control of your rock to navigate around, over, and through these obstacles that they put up in front of you. At the end of each course you will have to break through the door to their hold in order to eliminate your opponent.
The mechanics are fairly easy to understand. You begin with a view of a map covering the entire area. There you will have a set of tools to use to slow down and stop your enemy's rock from demolishing your fortress. By pressing the trigger, you pull up a menu which will let you select various tools to help you out. From something as unique as a cow, to the more elaborate siege weapons, you will have a nice arsenal to help your side win. One thing to take note of is that the creation of your boulder is on a timer. So as it is being created, you have to use your time wisely in order to prepare for the incoming onslaught.
After you get the opportunity to launch your boulder, you will get to choose the type of power ups that could help you down the hill. You can add a little fire to your rock in order to destroy the animal opponents more easily or a iron casing in order to maintain impacts with the buildings that you will collide with. You are rewarded for destroying your opponents buildings because as you do, you will get money that will let you buy more defenses and upgrade your rock. The downhill slalom is done in third person with you controlling the boulder and the rotation of the map. In the top right of the screen, you will also be privy to see where your enemy is rolling through and if you find that to be too distracting, you will be able to hide it or reveal it at any time.
The meat of the game lies in the single player. You, as the rebellious Sisyphus, are traveling through various time periods in history. As it would seem, you grow tired of pushing that boulder up the hill and just decide to go downhill in rebellion. Of course they did take some creative licenses with this by adding mythical figures along with historical ones. You might find yourself trying to destroy the vampire inspired Vlad Tepes and From there, go on to be face to face with a dragon. The progression of the single player is fairly straight forward. You must pass through these periods in time and along your way, collect keys in order to unlock additional maps. It was interesting to see the incorporation of boss battles within this game which are easy enough to understand. For example, when facing off against the dragon, you might see a quite obvious weak spot in order to focus your rolling attacks.
But don't get me wrong as its not as easy as it may seem. There are times where it may seem like your opponent has nothing more to do than to put up buildings which will constantly block your path and cause you to be launched off the cliffs. At the same time, you are greeted with that pesky warning that he is rolling while you may find yourself only able to set up a few barriers. So careful planning and speed are crucial to succeed in winning this competitive downhill battle. One of the biggest drawbacks with the planning stage is that it is very difficult to have precise control of where you place the cursor. I found myself quite often skipping over the spot where I wanted to build which costs precious time. You have unlimited time to build your defenses, but if you spend too long working on that, your opponent will be rushing down the hill toward your base in no time.
For those of you that like the collection aspect of games, there is also a challenge mode in Rock of Ages where you will have to meet certain criteria for a given map and you will be awarded with a medal based on how you finished.
As for multiplayer, you have a couple of different options to try out. One of these will pit you in a race vs. the computer or another player over PSN or locally to race to the finish. Of course, the track is littered with numerous hurdles, animals, turrets for you to bulldoze your way through. Both players will start at the same time and it is a race to see who can make it to the end the fastest three times. Additionally they have also added powerups for you to pickup along the way to help your with your chances at winning the race. This is a great addition to the game and makes for a fun romp when you want to play a quick game without the strategy portion of other modes.
In addition to the the multiplayer race, you are also treated to a nostalgic version of skee ball where you get to proceed downhill into the familiar target where you will get a multiplier based on how much you destroyed on the way down.
There is also the classic battle mode where you and your opponent will go head to head in the same way as you would play the story mode, where the first to squish the opposing teams leader wins.
You can play against opponents online or via split screen. Unfortunately, the online aspect of this title can be quite difficult because when you want to play online, for some reason it can take forever before you get a chance to play against someone which makes it unbearable.
The style of this game is unique in that they are using animations from classical paintings in a way that some would find reminiscent of the classic sketch comedy show Monty Python's Flying Circus. This adds entertaining comical flavor to a genre where it is difficult to set yourself apart. The physics might be a little off where in some cases, you might get nudged by a little cow and for some reason, you are launched off the map.
If I were just judging it as a single player I would rate this game much higher, but with the difficulty of trying to join in multiplayer modes it really detracts from how good it can be. At the price of $9.99 I feel it is a little overpriced because the majority of people that get it will want to play the multiplayer portion of the game which consistently is not working properly. If it was a single player game priced at 6.99, then it would be an entirely different result.
Final Game Guys grade: C
- by John Speerbrecker for news10.net's Game Guys
(Atlus provided a copy of this game for review.)