As a game designer, one method I use when sharpening my skills is to take two completely different mechanics and combine them to make something new and interesting. While this always results in unique learning experiences, it often does not produce a very fun gameplay experience. Some mechanics just won’t gel right with each other because they’re often trying to get the player to do different things. It can be tough, though not impossible, to combine FPS and RTS mechanics, for example, because an FPS encourages the player to be in the middle of the action while an RTS puts players behind the action. Other mechanics, however, mesh so well that it’s a wonder they were never combined sooner. Rock of Ages 3: Make and Break, created by Chilean developers ACE Team, does this beautifully.
Similar to previous games of the series, Rock of Ages 3: Make and Break combines tower defense with rolling ball mechanics similar to those found in games like Marble Madness or Super Monkey Ball. In hindsight, this combination is painfully obvious. The goal of a tower defense game is to prevent the enemy from reaching the end of a linear level by placing obstacles. The goal of a ball rolling game is to reach the end of a linear level while avoiding obstacles. It’s a match made in heaven. Rock of Ages features six separate game modes including obstacle courses, races, tower defense, and multiplayer, head-to-head action. Each level begins at the top of a hill and, depending on which game mode you’re playing, your goal is to either reach the end, destroy your enemy’s base, or beat your opponent to the end of the level. Various obstacles both stand in your way and provide you with tools to stop your opponents. Everything from basic towers to catapults to giant sphinx-like creatures with earthquake powers stand between you and your ultimate goal.
Some levels throughout the main campaign feature tower-defense gameplay. The player must construct defenses along the hill to prevent enemy boulders from reaching the castle gates. Obstacles can, and often must, be placed in real-time while the enemy is attacking in order to prevent the ultimate destruction of your kingdom. Combining the destructive ball rolling mechanics with the creative tower defense mechanics, my favorite game mode was the head-to-head battles. Players are given some time to set up defenses before rolling their own boulder into their opponent’s castle. Limiting players to a specific set of obstacles results in unique and often hilarious scenarios especially when playing against friends.
New to Rock of Ages 3 is the ability for players to design and share their own levels. Using any of the game’s six unique game modes, players can design races, battles, and obstacle courses that can be played alone or alongside up to three friends in online multiplayer, or with one friend using split-screen. Rock of Ages features brilliantly simple and intuitive level creation tools giving players the ability to design tracks completely from scratch. Terrain sculpting tools and a huge selection of obstacles and props gives players the opportunity to design completely unique game modes. The inclusion of these community levels gives Rock of Ages a huge amount of replayability, even after completing the main campaign.
Fans of Monty Python’s Flying Circus will feel right at home playing Rock of Ages 3. The dry and extremely silly brand of humor, as well as the distinct animation style, give Rock of Ages that very unique feeling usually only found while watching the popular sketch comedy troupe. The unique brand of humor and strange storytelling extends to the game’s main narrative as you travel across the timeline, unlocking new eras to explore and interacting with historical figures from every generation. Everyone from Odysseus to Montezuma to The Flying Spaghetti Monster makes an appearance in a collection of short, but hilarious, animated cutscenes.
Only occasionally was my enjoyment soured by camera glitches and only once was I forced to restart the game because of it. Sometimes certain obstacles would be off-centered when placing them in build mode. This often meant that the obstacle I was trying to place was off-camera somewhere and I was forced to guess where I was placing it. At one point I was launched through a cannon and off a trampoline sending me flying far off into the distance. For some reason, this messed up my camera and I had to restart the level so it would reset. Other than these minor bugs, Rock of Ages 3 plays very smoothly and performs well.
Featuring a unique mash-up of tower defense, ball rolling, and extremely silly storytelling, Rock of Ages 3: Make and Break is an excellent game to bust out with your closest friends. With up to four-player multiplayer and a library of community-made content, Rock of Ages promises to provide entertainment long after you complete the main objective. Unlockable boulders, historically themed levels, and new and interesting game modes will keep you engaged from beginning to end.