Review – Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break
You can say a lot of things about about the brand new Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break, but one thing you can’t say is that this game’s sense of style isn’t absolutely amazing. I had heard good things about its predecessors, but I’ve never actually played them. I didn’t know exactly what to expect from it, besides the obvious implication that it featured a giant boulder crushing everything in sight. I definitely wasn’t expecting a smorgasbord of different game modes, creative tools, and one of the most adorable settings I’ve seen in a game in recent memory.
Upon starting Rock of Ages 3‘s story mode, I was greeted with a ridiculous yet amazing cutscene making use of poorly animated historical collages, in an obvious nod to Monty Python, just like The Procession to Calvary did a few months ago. A hilarious recreation of Homer’s Odyssey, complete with funny grunts and sound effects. I was then introduced to one of Rock of Ages 3‘s gameplay modes: controlling boulders in order to destroy obstacles.
This section is as straightforward as it can be, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. You’re controlling a gigantic boulder that probably weighs a few tons, so you need to pay attention to its physics. Think of it as Marble Madness if that game’s marble had the same agility and traction as a truck with no brakes. The physics are a bit wonky, that’s for certain, but I honestly think that actually makes these sections more challenging and entertaining.
The trippy visuals, as well as the fantastic soundtrack comprised of remixed versions of classical tunes like Mozart’s “Alla Turca“, just make things even more enjoyable. Sadly, despite the game’s name, Def Leppard isn’t featured in here. I absolutely loved the presentation and the soundtrack, even if the unlocked framerate wasn’t as consistent as it should have been.
The second section the game introduces shortly afterwards is its tower defense mode. In these sections, you’re not the one throwing boulders at castles: you’re the castle. Your opponent will constantly try to destroy your keep by releasing a near neverending barrage of boulders through a long course. It’s up to you to defend your keep by building obstacles in order to destroy these boulders. You can do so by either by depleting their health bars (yep, that’s a thing apparently) or throwing them off course.
I can’t say I was a fan of those sections. The controls are a bit undercooked, as this kind of gameplay was clearly meant to be best enjoyed with a mouse and a keyboard. You will also have to pay attention to your resources and even build some structures that allow for your citizens to extract gold from nearby mines. When did this become Age of Empires from out of nowhere?
Finally, there will be many moments in the story mode in which you’ll have to control both your boulder and play tower defense at the same time. Boy, did I wish I could only play as the boulder instead. This is the second game in a row from developer ACE Team in which I definitely disliked its tower defense mechanics, the other one being last year’s SolSeraph.
Luckily, you can actually progress through the story mode without having to touch any tower defense section at all besides the introductory tutorial, at least during the first few chapters. You can also tackle some other boulder-centered challenges, such as an obstacle racecourse and a freaking skee ball minigame. Plus you can grab stars that will allow you to open new chapters scattered throughout history, from the Roman period all the way to the present day.
You can also tackle some ultra-hard levels starring Humpty Dumpty and get a ton of stars at once. You will eventually need to do some tower defense levels in order to unlock some later stages. However, things become a lot easier once you unlock new units with the same stars you’ve been acquiring throughout your entire campaign.
The last feature in Rock of Ages 3 is actually its main selling point: a course creator. This isn’t a half-baked editor like the skate park creators from Tony Hawk games. This is the real deal. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this creator was the same one the developers themselves used to design all of Rock of Ages 3‘s levels.
You can create any kind of course featured in the story mode. Want to do an obstacle course? Sure, go ahead. Do you want to come up with the stupidest skee ball level in history? Why not, the sky’s the limit.
The controls are pretty decent, even if using a Dualshock on a level creator isn’t as comfortable as a mouse, but the game does a great job at teaching you the basics. To make things even more interesting, the one and only Napoleon is this mode’s teacher. After creating your dream course, you can upload it and let other players enjoy your ludicrous masterpiece while you play a near-impossible course created by someone else. Suffice to say, Rock of Ages 3 is very replayable.
I loved three quarters of what Rock of Ages 3 had to offer and fell in love with its silly, Monty Python-esque presentation, especially its soundtrack. I enjoyed its challenging boulder-focused levels and I had a blast creating the stupidest obstacle courses I could think of with its excellent level creator mode. I can’t say I had the same feelings towards its undercooked tower defense mode, but I still have to recommend Rock of Ages 3 for the sheer amount of crazy content it has to offer.
I absolutely adore the game’s Monty Python-esque art style, but I have some major gripes regarding its framerate and reliance on reused assets from different time periods on some levels.
This game has some wonky physics, but they’re actually part of what makes it so funny to play. Controlling a gigantic boulder going downhill shouldn’t exactly be an easy task. The editor mechanics are also quite good, albeit a bit confusing at first. The tower defense controls on the other hand, are a bit annoying.
The soundtrack is comprised of remixed versions of well-known classical compositions. It fits perfectly with the game’s wacky and historical setting.
I love its premise, humor, and everything related to controlling the boulder and creating levels. I can’t say I’m a big fan of the tower defense levels, however.
Final Verdict: 8.0
Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch.
Reviewed on PS4.
A copy of Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break was provided by the publisher.