Rock of Ages 2: Bigger And Boulder from ACE Team
Standing alongside God, Atlas holds the Earth on his shoulders. Eager for a rest, He puts down his load for a second while God is distracted, only to have Earth roll away. Reaching blindly for it, Atlas seizes the eponymous Rock. Realizing his error, he runs from God with his new rolling projectile. Falling to Earth (yes, the one that was just on his shoulders), he scours the landscape looking for a place to take a nap. The Almighty doesn’t care for this plan, and gives chase.
Cast the First Stone
Like its predecessor, Bigger and Boulder is one part tower defense, one part downhill racing. While fleeing the vengeful eye of God, Atlas will cross paths with a variety of historical figures. Unwilling to face his boss, he has to keep moving, but his opponents are after a fight. To defeat them, Atlas must knock down the gate to their strongholds and squish the leader before his foes are able to do the same first.
In the time it takes to construct a boulder, each side has an opportunity to purchase and place defenses. Towers, ballista-type weaponry and walls are available at the start of the single-player campaign, with other items unlocking as the game progresses. By placing an array of these objects, the speed of an enemy rock can be hindered, and the overall strength can be degraded, if not destroyed entirely. A rock at full health and rolling at top speed is going to do maximum damage once it strikes the fortress doors, so some well-placed impedance is just as crucial as a good offensive roll.
The trick is in finding a balance between defense and offense, as it isn’t possible to pay attention to both aspects concurrently. Navigating through the twists and turns of a course takes finesse, to say nothing of having to deftly avoid the enemy’s implements of destruction. Hurling directly down the hill at top speed is going to result in having the rock go off the side of the course. This diminishes its health and costs valuable seconds.
Rolling in the Aisles
Fans of Monty Python will find a lot to love with the visuals. In the between-stage cut scenes, classical period artwork is chopped up into childish animated collages, bursting with high-pitched frantic squealing a la Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
Historical leaders are savagely lampooned, and the results couldn’t be funnier. The madness carries onto the battlefield, where the denizens of each courtyard hop about, chirping away angrily as their leader is flattened with a token squish sound effect. Some scenes that employ dialogue fell short of the mark, as the silliness of the voices used feels forced and unnatural, but happily, there are only a couple of these.
Atlas will face warriors and great minds alike, crossing paths with the likes of Joan of Arc, Copernicus, Ramses, and Vincent van Gogh. Van Gogh in particular is presented as a twisted Gollum-esque creature who explosively vomits paint and is capable of tearing off his own ear to listen for foes. Joan Of Arc accidentally crosses the path of God as He searches for Atlas, and hilariously takes the meeting as sign that her attack strategies are brilliant.
Defeating an opponent allows for the use of his signature ball, which comes with its own unique traits. Though many of these abilities come at the expense of power and speed, they can prove strategically advantageous. Picking a play style that works can be tricky, as the enemy AI is a bit all over the place. It’s possible to completely trap an enemy in a loop that prevents any damage to your castle, but managing to make it happen is a total crap shoot.
Not over the Hill
Once the campaign is complete, race modes and challenges help to pad out the overall experience. Beyond being able to take on some new historical icons, there isn’t much else to differentiate Rock of Ages 2 from its forebear. Fortunately, hurtling down a hill at ridiculous speeds just to flatten out a cardboard cutout of William Wallace is just as enjoyable. It’s all downhill from here, and that’s good news.
Rock Of Ages 2: Bigger and Boulder is available via Steam, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Watch the official Rock of Ages 2: Bigger and Boulder trailer below: