Rock of Ages: What’s going on? Just roll with it

September 16, 2011

To say that Rock of Ages is a distinctive game is an understatement. Take one part Marble Madness, one part Super Monkey Ball and one part tower defense game, and mix them together with a quirky sense of humor and Monty Python-like graphics, and out rolls Rock of Ages.

Remember Sisyphus? He’s still in Hades pushing a massive boulder up a hill, only to have it fall and need to start over. Well, he’s finally had enough, and decides to use his boulder for revenge and escape. Thus begins a game-long sequence of fights against various figures from history while Sisyphus runs through the ages.

The game consists of rolling a boulder down a hill covered with various obstacles and enemies to destroy a gate at the base of the hill. There are three modes that give variations on this theme. The Skeeboulder mode replaces the gate with a skeeball target, and depending on which hole you land in after going up the ramp, you’ll get a different point multiplier. In Time Trial mode, your only goal is to get down the hill as fast as possible, though the various obstacles and emenies will be there in an attempt to slow you down still. The marquee mode, though, is War. Here, you’ll be racing to destroy an opponent’s gate before he destroys yours. It takes multiple strikes to destroy a gate, and about 30 seconds to build a new boulder to attack with. During this time, you’ll be in RTS/Tower Defense mode. You gain money for destroying stuff while on attack, and use that money to build defenses in an attempt to either slow down or destroy the opposing boulder.

All of these modes have some faults in them, but are worth playing anyway. Skeeboulder is the weakest of the modes, though it does get some redemption in its multiplayer. It just doesn’t have any replay value outside of multiplayer. Time Trial mode is a good way to practice the various maps you’ve unlocked for War mode, and since it ignores the defense side of the game, it’s actually pretty addictive. War mode is great fun, and the humor and pop references it includes are well-worth playing through the entire campaign. Ranging from 300 to The Matrix to Castlevania, War mode references many of the more iconic movie and game series during the cutscenes that introduce each level of the game. Its downfall is, unfortunately, the defense side of the equation. Adding in tower defense and RTS elements is a stroke of genius, in my opinion, but the controller is just too inaccurate a control scheme for it to work out properly. We fully expect the Steam version to be the best because of the precision a mouse offers.

The graphics are done in a whimsical, Monty Python-style manner, and it perfectly fits the game’s tone. The audio also matches well with its gibberish speak and public-domain music.

Rock of Ages is a much better game than anyone could have ever expected from this combination, and is well worth the price of admission.

Pros: Gameplay is addictive; humorous cutscenes
Cons: control scheme doesn’t work well on defense; camera can be a pain

Score: 3/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.