The beauty of video games is how diverse they can be gameplay-wise. Some games will have you quickly speeding through a track, tearing around corners at maximum speed, trying to beat your opponent to the finish line. Some games are very methodical, placing various buildables along a specific path you know your foe will follow and hope that they don’t make it to their destination. Other games have an incredibly unique sense of humor or style. “Rock of Ages II: Bigger and Boulder” is all of the above.
For those of you who have never heard of this game, you play as a character from a work of art and send a boulder down a slope in order to hit the enemies gate. It will take a couple boulders to fully bring the gate down and, once you do, you have to squish your opponent. The catch is, there are many different map variations, each with it’s own unique art style and map layout and the enemy is rolling a boulder at your gate too. It’s a race to see who can break down the other’s person’s gate first. But you’re not defenseless. You can set up varying types of unique buildables in order to hinder or damage the enemy’s boulder. While you’re waiting for your builders to chisel you a new boulder, you set up buildables along the enemy’s path to make sure they don’t reach your gate intact.
It sounds simple enough but “Rock of Ages II” is anything but. There is a bit of a learning curve with the game. You don’t completely understand how your boulder controls from the get-go and the buildables can seem very strange at times. When you unlock things like sticky cows and anvil bulls, the first thought you get is what the heck they do. The problem is, you’re used to what you already have and understand and you don’t want to risk losing a level because you got screwed over by a buildable you dislike. That being said, the boulder controls are pretty easy to pick up on and the enemies have access to all the buildables in the game even if you don’t have them so you can learn by seeing them used against you.
The boulders are a very fun concept. I often found myself getting a rush of adrenaline as I tried my best to round a corner after screaming down a hill at max speed. But just because you’re a giant rock going extremely fast, doesn’t mean you’re invincible. Your boulders can get damaged by enemy buildables along the way and that causes you to do less damage to the enemy’s gate in the end. If enough damage is done, your boulder can get destroyed and now you have to start all over again. There are different types of boulders in the game and most of them feel a little different than the base one so you’ll have to get used to how the new boulder feels but it’s not too bad. Personally, I prefer the Rock of Ages which is the default boulder. I’ve always been an all around type of guy and that boulder is the most all around in the game. Certain boulders have certain unique abilities too, usually at a price. One boulder can double jump, but it doesn’t do a lot of damage. Another has a fuse that causes it to explode so it can do massive damage to a gate but has a chance at blowing up during your roll. One boulder is just a giant cube that rolls exactly how a cube would. It’s not very fast at all but always does full damage. No matter what your playstyle is, there’s a boulder for you.
The buildables are a very important concept as well. I have to say, this game probably has the most unique buildables I’ve ever seen. There are basic things like walls, exploding barrels, ballistas that shoot arrows, and catapults that throw rocks at the enemy’s boulder. But then you have cows that stick to the enemy’s boulder to slow them down, whales that suck in the boulder and fire it away, and lion-like creatures that dangle from balloons and latch on to the enemy boulder to do damage and hinder their progress. The uniqueness of these items really adds a spice to the game that many tower defense games are missing. Personally, I’m sick of seeing the same types of generic units again and again.
One of the strong points of this game is it’s art style and humor. Every battle begins with a cutscene loosely explaining the upcoming battle with a scene that can only be described as Monty Python-esque. They take images from paintings and rig them up to make them move around and speak in gibberish. The sense of humor is surprisingly good. It’s not easy to make me laugh but I found myself laughing out loud quite a few times while playing. My favorite cutscene is the one with Vincent Van Gogh but I won’t spoil it for you. If don’t plan on getting the game, please at least look up that cutscene. The artstyle is honestly stunning some times. The game centers around going to different artistic time periods and dueling against famous artistic figures of the time, real or fictional. The best part is, every stage you’re on has the art style of the person you’re up against. The Van Gogh stage looks like his paintings, the Greek stages look like old Greek pottery, and the renaissance pieces have that eerie realism that renaissance paintings do. There have been times I’ve fallen off the course because I get too caught up watching the backgrounds. It’s honestly incredible.
“Rock of Ages II: Bigger and Boulder” is truly bigger and bolder in every way. The game has an amazing art style, great musical choices, enthralling gameplay, and a fantastic sense of humor. I’m honestly trying to think of a reason to dislike this game but I can’t. The only real downside is that the game, even on easy, can be pretty hard sometimes but that’s just difficulty so it doesn’t really matter that much. I was wary about the game since it isn’t traditionally my kind of game but I ended up loving it in the end. I would definitely recommend purchasing it.
BUT WAIT, HOLD ON A MOMENT!
So I just booted the game up to get some pictures and check a couple things out before I submitted this review and all my progress was gone. Literally all of it. Now, over the weekend, I played the game locally with somebody else who has not played the game at all. Upon entering the game today, my flag, avatar, and boulder were all set to what my friend had when we played even though he used his own profile. So the game just lost a point or two for me because of this horrible bug. I’ll be honest, I got very far in the game but I do not want to do all that again. I have lost data in games too many times and it always leaves a permanent sour taste in my mouth. If anyone knows what the deal with this is; let me know but, until then, I’m gonna stay away from this game. I’m disappointed though because I truly loved this game, and now I’ve been betrayed.
[ACE Team has yet to comment]
My final verdict: I would highly recommend getting the game. Just don’t play it with other people or you might lose all your data.
EDIT: As of September 14th, ACE Team has responded and said a patch is in progress but the data is probably lost forever.
Rock of Ages II: Bigger and Boulder is available on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4