Many thanks to ACE Team for the review code for this game, and the extra codes to give away on my twitter (check social links).

I have only just recently discovered the Rock of Ages series. I mean, I’d known about it for years now, but it had always maintained on the periphery until recently. I knew it was about rolling boulders, and that there was some element of tower defence involved; however, that tower defence element is the sole reason why I had kept away from the series. That changed a few months ago when I finally took the plunge and grabbed the second game during a deep sale. Boy was I impressed. Fast forward to 2021 and I am now tackling the most recent instalment – Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break.

I WANT TO BREAK FREE
Break mode focuses primarily on the story mode, and it’s just as crazy as ever. Odysseus and his crew face off against the cyclops, Polyphemus. After getting briefly captured, they make their escape by forming a ball out of the sheep that are inside the cave and using it to break their way out. Their escape is short lived however, as the cyclops crushes poor Odysseus with a large boulder. The story then shifts to another crewmate, Elpenor, who manages to escape. Unhappy, the cyclops asks Poseidon to put a curse on Elpenor and his ship, which results in him sailing around in history with the boulder, facing off against a cast of colourful characters; each one introduced with a bizarre cutscene reminiscent of Monty Python.

I wouldn’t recommend trying to make sense of it!

TIME AFTER TIME
After a brief tutorial, the story mode drops you off in the historical sea surrounded by locked eras of time. Breaking open a lock will typically give you access to the main War quest, along with some side games – all themed around a particular time period. Winning grants you stars. Stars unlock more levels. The goal is to unlock and beat the three main bosses, which will open the final gateway to Poseidon. It’s offers a nice progression system, and is much easier to navigate than the awkward pathways of the second game.

As for the gameplay itself, it’s typically comprised of two sections: attack and defence. Attacking consists of you controlling a boulder and navigating your way through the level, trying to smash down your opponents castle door. The fewer hits you take, and the faster you travel, will determine how much damage you deal. Levels will require a degree of platforming, but the main challenge will be evading the obstacles planted by your opponent. Don’t expect Monkey Ball style precision here. Boulders are far weightier and are much more imprecise to control; this weighty movement is very satisfying to control and you really feel the impact of crashing into stuff!

After hitting the opposing door, you’ll need to construct a new boulder. That takes time, which will give you the opportunity to place defences of your own. These defences will work to damage or slow down the enemy. Break down their door first, and you are able to squish your opponent – very satisfying!

Rock of Ages III: Make & Break Switch Review - Impulse Gamer

Rock of Ages 3 Begins its Open Beta - Upload Comet

BREAKING BALLS

If you want to win, you’ll need good defences.

Here are just a few of my favourite ways to stop enemy balls:

WAR ELEPHANTS
Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break | TechRaptor
Elephants are great for ramming and crushing enemy boulders. Get a few in a tight space and watch them squeeze your opponent!

BULL OF HEAVEN
Check Out the New Defensive Units Available in Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break  - Modus Games
These behemoths not only block and damage enemy rocks, but their stomps can bury them in the ground too!

GUILLOTINE
Check Out the New Defensive Units Available in Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break  - Modus Games
Very fragile, but extremely powerful. There’s nothing less menacing than half a boulder!

WHEEL OF PAIN
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A revolving menace. Use this in tight areas to knock your opponent off the course. Upgrade them to equip swinging maces around the top.

BRANCHING BOLT
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An upgraded thunderbolt attack that branches to nearby boulders. A must for Avalance!

LET’S ROCK AND ROLL!

Rock of Ages 3 offers a vast array of game modes. Here’s what’s on offer:

WAR
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The standard game mode sees you face off your opponent, trying to break their castle door whilst setting defences to protect your own!

OBSTACLE COURSE
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A race against two opponents to the castle. First to two points wins, but watch out for the increasing defences each turn!

TIME TRIAL
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Time trial returns, but with a difference! Control a bomb and race towards the castle. Don’t let your fuse run out!

AVALANCHE
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One of my favourites. Prepare defences to protect against an onslaught of boulders.

UNIT CHALLENGE
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Unlocking units isn’t always as easy as unlocking them on the map. Face off against an opponent using only one unit type for defence. Win and the unit is yours.

SKEE BOULDER
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Race your opponent down the track, hitting targets as you go. Land in one of the multipliers at the end to get a higher score.

HUMPTY DUMPTY
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Humpty Dumpty has his own world, which you gradually unlock with more stars. Guide the fragile egg to the end of the course, trying not to break!

SUPER ROCK OF AGES MAKER
‘Break’ only covers half the game, though. The big draw of the third entry is the addition of a level editor. It offers a tutorial of sorts, which introduces you to the very basics; although it stops short of going into any actual detail. A lot of it will boil down to you playing around with the editor and just trying to find things out. Apparently all of the single player levels were developed using the in-game editor, so it’s pretty robust – you just need to find out how to actually do what you want to do. It’s a tad clunky, but that’s to be expected from a 3D level creator on a console. Touch controls and slightly better organisation would probably have helped, but it’s not very difficult to use for those who want to stick at it.

The purpose of these levels are mainly to provide content for the multiplayer mode. Unlike the previous games, playing against an online opponent does not utilise the maps from the story mode; instead, you select ones made by other people. Of course, this can lead you to playing on some badly made levels, but there is a curation system included so you can give a thumbs up to any especially good ones. I was initially skeptical upon realising that you can only play user content, but to be honest I needn’t have worried. The gameplay hook is just so damn fun that multiplayer is a real highlight of the game. As someone who rarely plays multiplayer, I can truly say that this series is made for multiplayer. As fun as the story is, it’s no substitute for playing against friends. Online can be played up to four players, but I think it is best playing one on one. Not only is it more focused, but it is far easier to find one opponent via social platforms than assembling a team. The online is pretty quiet so you really do need to find another person.

THERE MAY BE T-RUBBLE AHEAD
Graphically speaking, the game is more or less on a par with Rock of Ages 2 for the most part – which wasn’t exactly a looker to begin with. Where the second game shone was in the smooth gameplay accompanied by a great artistic direction that fit each historical era perfectly. The third entry, however, doesn’t quite reach those levels. The Python-esque cutscenes are mostly brilliant, but some of the designs seem a bit off. Elpenor, in particular, looks comparatively quite simple. I know it is based on the artwork from the vases, but it doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the world. I think some slight tweaks would have done wonders.

Level design too isn’t quite as good as in previous entries. Past games generally had levels themed around the era, and as such all felt unique. Vesuvius had a winding path up a volcano, Rome had you rolling down massive aqueducts – every level had its own personality, and had units to match. In this game, however, you don’t have any of that. Sometimes you may get units that fit a particular theme (The Yeti in a frozen Moscow level, for example), but generally speaking you could swap the textures for any level and you’d be none the wiser. It’s a real shame, and it results in a lack of truly memorable levels. However, the game does have unique levels for every challenge – you will never be repeating the same map, even for a time trial. That definitely helps prevent level fatigue.

From a performance standpoint too, the game doesn’t fare particularly well. Whilst it is fine for the most part, occasionally the game will struggle. A couple of War maps in particular seemed to be pushing the hardware to its limits. What usually happens, however, is that the game will come to a sudden stop mid-action. When it first happened, I thought the game had crashed, however, after around 5-10 seconds or so, it resumed as normal. I had this happen half a dozen times throughout the main game; sometimes in War, other times in Time Trial – once it happened during a Humpty Dumpty match. Would I prefer this to a constantly bad framerate? I guess so, but it does hamper the experience a bit. Strangely enough, playing online is absolutely flawless. Not a single frame drop, freeze, or anything.

Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break Review: Gathers Some Moss – XBLAFans

Probamos Rock of Ages 3, un juego de acción y estrategia con el que es  difícil no reír - Nintendo Switch

 

 

I have very mixed feelings regarding Rock of Ages 3. It has some major problems; problems that didn’t exist in previous entries. This is still Rock of Ages though, and it’s still an absolute delight to play. It has some great additional units, game modes, and a level editor too. Here’s hoping that in Rock of Ages 4, they can combine the best elements from all three!