Developer ACE Team has been known for their quirky indie releases over the years, ranging from their weirdly different Zero Clash to their more recent B-movie inspired The Deadly Tower of Monsters. But the one release of theirs back on the PS3 & Xbox 360 that got the most attention was a title called Rock of Ages, which had players control a giant boulder crushing enemy armies in a zany take on mythology-inspired areas with some real-time strategy element thrown into the mix. And after a bunch of original creations, the developers have came back to the table with a sequel to the game in the form of Bigger & Boulder. Does it live up to the hype or is it just a “bigger” version of the original?
In this entry, we control Atlas who after dropping the Earth he was tasked with holding while God was working on it. This caused the continents to split up, and Sisyphus’ boulder is thrown towards Earth and gets involved in things with various historical and fictional characters alike. It’s a completely absurd premise made to setup the various battles you take part in, but it somehow works in an amusing fashion if you don’t think about it too much.
The gameplay in the sequel is pretty familiar to anyone who played the original. Until your boulder is carved, you survey the field from a top-down view and can place down units to attack the enemy’s boulder. Once the boulder is ready, you control its path as it rolls down and hopefully crashes into the enemy castle’s gate and damages it. The catch is that you need to evade the enemy’s units and navigate the path successfully, while the enemy is trying to do the same to get to your gate. You also need to obtain gold on your way via banks or destroying enemy units.
Much like the first game, the key is playing the risk-versus-reward system properly. Do you want to build your units even when the boulder is ready, or deploy it immediately? Should you take the shorter but more dangerous path that could knock you off the map, or the longer path that could give the opponent extra time to destroy your units and gate? There’s no wrong or right answer for any given map, which is something I loved in the first game and it’s welcome to see it return again here in the sequel.
The sequel spices things up with boss battles against giant statues and monsters, but they feel half-baked compared to the rest of the gameplay. It follows the generic “hit the weak spot three times” pattern, with the balancing swinging between too easy or too hard instead of being just right. Additionally, while I won’t spoil anything in particular about the final boss battle, it does mix things up but the game doesn’t explain it at all leaving the player to figure it out and will likely leave most confused initially unnecessarily.
If single-player isn't your cup of tea or if you've completed the entire campaign, there's also local and online multiplayer to partake in. Besides the standard versus battles you'd expect based on the campaign battles, there's also obstacle courses that expand on the single-player story mode's premise. One nice addition for those who don't have friends to play with locally or online is that AI opponents can be selected locally, so this mode can be experienced by anyone. It's still wise to play through the campaign some even if you primarily want to experience the multiplayer options, as you unlock various trinkets by playing through this mode that can be used in multiplayer for customization purposes.
Probably the one area where the game went bigger and "boulder" is in the customization options for the titular boulder, as there's a plethora of more options to choose from that both change how it looks and what abilities it has. Some just look different, while others change their movement properties. Others are quite different altogether, having effects such as leaving a trail behind them that stops the enemy from building units where you traveled. The designs themselves go from different to the absurd, much like the story premise, and it works quite wonderfully.
That said, while there not all that much in terms of "new" content in Rock of Ages 2: Bigger & Boulder, it builds on the original game's premise which was already "rock solid" to begin with. Some aspects like the boss battles feel a tad tacked and simplistic, but the polish of the other areas makes up for that in spades. It may not bring in those who disliked the original, but for those who loved the original or who are enticed by a bit of the absurd, it's quite the treat indeed.Rock of Ages 2: Bigger & Boulder was reviewed using a PS4 Digital Copy provided by Atlus USA. You can find additional information about Gaming Union's ethics policy here.
|Still keeps the zany and outlandish story and charm of the original intact.|
|Multiplayer is incredibly fun with friends offline and online, and you can play against the AI in this mode.|
|Need to think on your feet to win during battles.|
|Boss battles feel simplistic, with the final boss being shifting from the norm but not instructing the player well at all initially.|
|If you wanted radically "new" content or gameplay, you won't find that here.|