Report Card: Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break (Review)

By Jonny Casino

Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break is a competitive tower defense and arcade action game developed by Giant Monkey Robot.  I cannot tell you the last time I played a game that fell into this sort of genre.  It was a nice change of pace, but I don’t think this is my style of game.  All the same, I gave this a go and rolled right through it.

There are two modes you can play through.  You guessed it: ‘Make’ or ‘Break’.  In the ‘Make’ mode, you are given the tools to create levels for others to play.  There is a short tutorial and away you go.  If you are a creator, you might have a great time with this.  For me, I tried it out and quickly went back to the ‘Break’ mode.

The ‘Break’ mode is where the real game is.  You have the option to play community-made levels.  These will definitely be hit or miss, and I assume mostly miss.  A big issue I have with level creator games is that most people just suck at it.  Luckily for Rock of Ages 3, even the bad ones won’t be terrible.  This is due to the simple nature of the gameplay.

The other option in the ‘Break’ mode is a campaign.  Yes, there is a “story” but that doesn’t matter.  The campaign is broken down into groups of five levels.   Each of these groups is a specific time period and dictates the boss you face at the end.  The levels in these groups will provide you the ability to earn between one and three stars.  The fight to get the most stars out of each level is what will drive people to keep playing the game and will allow the player to unlock future groups of levels and defenses.

Ok, now we have the less important stuff out of the way and we can dive into the part that matters, the gameplay.  The short version of the gameplay is that you are controlling a rock, or some version of, and racing down a course.  The course could be filled with random defenses that will try to knock you off the track or destroy your rock.  Your goal is to make it to the bottom with as much speed and little damage as possible.

There are a few different styles of tracks you will find yourself on. On one, your entire goal is to make it to the bottom, have enough power to knock down the door, and roll over the final character.  You will have defenses in your way, but it’s pretty straight forward.  A similar style has you competing against another person or AI.  In this one, you start by laying out defenses to stop the other player.  Each defense has a cost and a total number that can be placed.  You and the AI will race down your respective tracks, trying to damage the door at the end.  You can take as many runs as needed to knock down their door and lay out new defenses in between the runs.  Whoever knocks down their opponent’s doors first, wins.  This was one of my favorite styles of play.

There is a ski ball style track where you try to knock down targets along the way and then land in a ski ball circle.  The best part of this is that you are rolling right next to your opponent and can try to interfere with them.  The final style is just tower defense.  You start by laying out different defenses and then multiple enemy rocks try to roll through them.  I never found this style very difficult or fun.

I played Rock of Ages 3 on Steam, but I was using an Xbox controller.  The controls felt solid and I never felt that my failures were unfair.  What it really came down to was learning the courses and the different defenses.  I had to figure out when to go full speed and when to slow it down.  It was a fine balance between speed to beat the opponent and slowing down to stay on the track.

Learning the defenses was as important as learning the tracks.  Some defenses you can jump over.  Some you need to bust through.  Other defenses you need to slow down so you can avoid them.  When you are doing a multi-run style round, running into defenses and destroying them can pay off in the next run. 

Speaking of the defenses, there are a lot to choose from and you unlock them as you earn more stars.  Some defenses are pretty basic.  These are the wall type defense you can put along the track and slow down the rocks while damaging them.  More advanced defenses are the battering rams, these bulls that also ram into the rocks, and these large buffalo looking creatures that knock the rocks around and make them stuck.  My favorite defense is these springboards.  You can place them aiming off the sides of the track and watch your opponent fly away. 

As you progress through the game, you unlock new “rocks”.  Granted, many of them are not rocks, but the serve they same purpose.  Choosing the correct one for the track, and your personal style can make or break you.  Some of these “rocks” are stronger, some are faster, and some have special abilities.  One rock does not get slowed down when it hits objects, but it deteriorates and becomes very small.  One rock, a meatball, is very fast and actually grows as it knocks down defenses. 

There are other rock like options that I never understood the use of.  One of them is a cheese roll.  It does not turn well at all and just kind of wobbles.  Another is a cube.  It is very strong, but we all know that cubes do not roll well.  Other strange “rocks” are one that is an inflatable cow and another that is a bunch of soldiers turned into stone.

The humor in the cut scenes is going to really land for some and just be worthless to others.  I got a chuckle once or twice from the ridiculous interactions, but I honestly got a bit bored with them.  It’s not that the humor is bad, it just doesn’t matter to the gameplay.  You can skip these scenes, so it’s not a big deal.

Reviewing Rock of Ages 3 was difficult for me.  Part of this is because the game got very difficult and I was frustrated.  The other part is that I do not think I am the correct audience for the game.  This is a game for people that want to keep playing the same thing with the hopes of doing better and getting a higher score.  The game has incredible replayability if that is something you are into. 

My final thoughts are these:  The game has solid controls and plenty of levels to play.  If you are into tower defense games, you will probably really enjoy it.  If not, this game will not change your mind.  Also, the music is pretty good.  I cannot just recommend this to everyone.

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