Thanks to ATLUS for the review code
Title: Rock of Ages II: Bigger and Boulder
System: Playstation 4
Release Date: 08/28/2017
In this tower-defense game, you take control of a being known as Atlas who has dropped a globe into the earth from the heavens and must get it back before the almighty God rages on the planet! It’s a really nonsensical story with a lot of the cutscenes having elements included that are made for laughs.
The first thing I noticed when starting up the game and being introduced to the main menus is just how abysmal the font size of the text is. At first I couldn’t really notice the fact that the game was split into offline and online sections and had to pull a chair up right in front of my television to even tell what was going on. Luckily the cutscenes are a lot better in terms of visibility and show off the game’s abstract art style (done in the nature of old paintings from centuries ago) in a way that doesn’t require much speaking or text of any sort.
The world map of the single player campaign is ironically a lot easier to figure out what is what, as is the text detailing the location and missions. However, my word of advice is that you change the POV settings as soon as you start a stage since if you don’t, the sequences when you have to roll the ball around will be zoomed in right against the ball by default and it’ll lead to a lot of frustrating moments where you won’t be able to see what’s in front of you. Turning the POV distance settings all the way to the maximum makes these sections a lot better and help give you a better field of view for the courses.
Rock of Ages II features two game modes, War and Obstacle Course, with the former being the main focus of the story with a focus on strategy, and the latter being a very basic racing mode meant for quick sessions. The single player campaign consists of a quest where you must challenge multiple figures from history in War, earning stars from their defeat in order to unlock new routes. Once you clear a stage in War, an Obstacle Course variant is unlocked to encourage you to go after an additional star, which I found to be a lot more fun than doing war stages due to the difference in how long they take. That doesn’t mean War is a fun mode though, as it has a lot of strategy involved!
The main goal of War is to use a combination of your available boulders and resources to defend your home castle from the enemy, while making sure to destroy their castle. These games are broken up into multiple phases, where the first one requires that you use funds earned to purchase and place obstacles on the path to hinder the opposing boulder’s progress. From explosives that will chip away the boulder, slow moving elephants that bounce the boulder off, to a crappy lightning cloud that will severely damage the boulder, but takes a few seconds to charge and will miss a good majority of the time unless you’re lucky.
While the defenses build up, your own crew will be preparing your boulder for rollout, and once it’s complete you can hit the Square Button to shift into the rollout mode, where you take control of the boulder as you roll down the course, trying to avoid the obstacles the CPU placed! You can only move and jump, although the different boulders have varying attributes that can make some boulders way too fast and difficult to control or vice versa. Once you successfully travel through the course and hit the castle door, (or get destroyed before that can happen) the phases will repeat until someone breaks open a door and flattens the commander inside.
For the most part, this match is a ton of fun when playing with a friend in local multiplayer, as the screen splits to show both playing fields in order to create a hectic feeling of tension, but against the CPUs, these matches can get quite boring, since without a friend to interact with the wait periods you’ll be sitting through can feel as if they drag on for a while, especially if you’re the type of player who can set up their defenses in no time at all. By far the best part of the defense phase is when you’re able to actually see the CPU’s ball moving around and trying to stop them in their tracks, but since the beginning of the match will always have both players waiting to roll out, there’s still some periods of boredom, but you can change the difficulty on the world map at any time if you want the CPU to be more or less aggressive.
This just leaves us with the best mode in the game, Obstacle Course, something that I wish wasn’t treated as a secondary mode in the single-player campaign. In this mode, you do nothing but race your boulder to the finish line, blazing through the course and a set of randomly generated obstacles while trying to best your opponent. For me this mode is much more fun to play than War due to the faster pace along with the fact that it’s a random obstacle layout every time, meaning that you don’t need to worry about setting up the map before getting started. They’re quick and easy stars for the campaign, and overall this mode is just simply more enjoyable than War is, which makes me wonder why they didn’t just split the campaign into two separate groups of levels instead of having you beat one stage on War before going to the Obstacle Course mode.
In conclusion, Rock of Ages II is a decent game, but one that I feel has more value in the multiplayer over the single player, as facing off against the CPU in War games can be quite boring as you still have to wait for their turns and it’s not as fun as playing against a real person, either locally or online. The Obstacle Course mode, on the other hand is tons of fun no matter who you play it against, and the short and quick pace of those matches lead to a lot of fun times. It’s just a shame the main campaign mostly focuses on the War Mode, with the Obstacle Course being a thing that only opens up after you beat a stage in War mode, as I think if it allowed you to go through two different routes for both modes, the single player wouldn’t be nearly as uninteresting. If you have friends to play this with, then Rock of Ages is a very enjoyable tower defense game to check out, but if you’re mostly a person who plays alone, then you may just want to stay put. Otherwise, get rolling!
I give Rock of Ages II: Bigger and Boulder a 6 out of 10.