By Sweep 29 Comments
It's kind of weird to me that more people aren't getting actively hyped about Rock Of Ages. It's a
glorified glorious tower defence game. You guys like Plants Vs Zombies, right? Well, Rock of Ages is kinda like that, except you control a huge rock with a face on it. Also you travel through time. There may or may not be battle cows. How can you not like that?
ACE Team are a weird group of guys.
Firstly they conjure up the downright nightmarish Zeno Clash, and now a game in which Sisyphus battles his way through time by smashing down fortresses with a giant rock. Also, there are war elephants. The absolute cluster-fuck of surreality for which the studio is earning a budding reputation is one that I would like to support - a much more conceptually interesting project than the latest "KILL THAT GUY WITH BULLETS" murder simulator. When the quick look arrived last week I was already fairly sure I was going to buy the game, but watching Ryan and Patrick play looked so much fun that I had bought the game and started installing it on XBL before the video had even finished.
Rock Of Ages is a lot of fun.
I think it's important to put that out there, with the medium becoming increasingly complex - Rock Of Ages has been stripped down to be a fast, light, funny and entertaining product. The "storyline" involves a sequence of 30 second cinematics and a handful of different mountains down which you must roll. That's really all there is to it. Oh, except one level where I had to fight a dragon. That was weird.
What makes Rock Of Ages unique is it's style.
The cardboard cut-out aesthetic may initially look strange, but I took to it instantly, being a huge Monty Python fanboy. I have to mention that the sounds in this game are also great, with stock screams, farts & incoherent simlish mumbles giving the game a lot of character. There's something wonderfully satisfying about the terrified bleating of the peasantry as you crush them beneath your enormous boulder.
Where it gets interesting is in building your defence. My brother and I have been experimenting at length as to what makes the best combination of items and the best way of positioning them to cause your opponent the maximum inconvenience. I tend to opt for rows of towers with catapults behind, while my brother has an ongoing fascination with the War Elephants. I would rather channel the enemy off a cliff using fans and dynamite, whereas he would rather use that dynamite to smash you into tiny pieces. The jury is still out as to which tactic is more effective.
That would be one of my few issues with Rock Of Ages - any moderately skilled player can easily avoid the majority of enemy traps and weaponry, and in many cases the game becomes a race - as the gate will almost always be destroyed by the third run, regardless of how well structured the defence is. Knocking an enemy off a cliff will set them back a couple of seconds but it won't lessen the damage they do to your base, so it's only really an issue if you are lagging behind. It therefore makes more sense to use your limited resources for blocking shortcuts and bottle-necks instead of attempting to destroy the opposition's siege boulder.
The important thing to stress here is that Rock Of Ages is a thoroughly charming game.
I think what I like about it the most is it's easygoing sense of humour. It doesn't try too hard to be funny, and it doesn't sell itself as a funny game, though the humour is definitely there. I still cackle with glee whenever I break open the doors of an enemy fortress, to hear them screaming like little girls, and I chuckled repeatedly at the introduction to Plague. The game oozes an insanity that perfectly matches my own weird sense of humour, and for that reason it was an instant hit. I think this may be one of the few games which I actually attempt to S-Rank, as I need to squeeze as much time out of this purchase as possible.
Rock Of Ages isn't a super competitive game - this isn't Starcraft, folks, and there's only a limited amount of finesse one can employ when placing battle cows, but it's a blast to play split screen, and definitely worth your time. And money.
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