Rock of Ages Review

Rock of Ages could probably be described as Monkeyball meets tower defense.  The goal is to roll a giant boulder down a long and winding path and use it to smash down your opponent's castle gate.  Your opponent is trying to so the same thing to your gate as well, but you both can make the effort a little more difficult for each other by adding some defenses along the way.  The defenses are all designed to slow down or damage the boulder, or to nudge it off the pathway altogether.  Like in most tower defense games these defenses cost cash, and that cash is earned by doing some damage with your boulder to buildings and other things on its way to the enemy gate.  You have some control over the boulder and as it rolls you can steer it and make it do a little jump, but there's a lot of momentum behind it so expect it to handle more like a semi than a sports car.

Rock of Ages screenshot 9

The game is fun at first, both due to its novelty and the tongue-in-cheek presentation style and graphics.  After playing a few games, though, you'll find that the game boils down to getting your next boulder rolling as quickly as possible.  If you spend any more time than it takes the game to ready your next boulder working on your defenses then you are going to lose.  The defenses are simply not as important a factor as it is to keep hitting your opponent as soon as possible. The defenses aren't even all that effective since you can build up all the momentum that you need to do maximum damage to your opponent's gate on the last stretch of the pathway, which the game doesn't allow defenses to be built on.  Stronger defenses and more dedicated time to build them would have made for a more strategic game, but as it is the game is skewed towards the action half of the equation.

Rock of Ages includes a campaign that has you taking on AI opponents on a variety of playfields.  It takes about three boulder hits to take out the enemies' gates, so each game plays out in under five minutes and you can quickly make your way through the campaign.  You can also play against a human opponent either locally or over Xbox Live, and while these games tend to be a bit more lively they still boil down to boulder races more than strategic battles.  The game also has a skeeball mode in which you have three rolls in which to earn points by hitting targets on your way to a set of skeeball like ringed targets with different point totals assigned to them which act as score multipliers for the roll.  This mode would probably be better if you didn't have control over the boulder once it entered the skeeball target area since the game lets you bounce your way out of trouble to the point where you can jump out of the scoring area, roll back up the hill, and try it again until you nail the highest score multiplier.

Rock of Ages is a novel idea and one that has some potential, but it feels like the balance between offense can defense in the game just isn't quite right.  The game is interesting enough that if a Rock of Ages 2 were ever to be released I'd definitely be interested in checking it out, but as it stands Rock of Ages is more of a novelty.  It's something that you enjoy for a little bit because it's different but then once that novelty wears off there's not enough there to keep your interest or bring you back later for more.

Final Rating: 70%. It's not quite one for the ages.


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