Rock of Ages 2: Bigger and Boulder review for PS4, PC

Platform: PS4
Also On: PC
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: ACE Tean
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes

Rock of Ages 2: Bigger and Boulder, besides be a contender for best/worst pun of the year, is also a remarkably apt description of the actual game. The follow-up to 2011’s original ACE Team release, Rock of Ages 2 doesn’t stray far from the original when it comes to actual gameplay mechanics, but it certainly features a lot more content that works quite well. It’s not all perfect, and much like the original I think you’ll find a few elements are rough around the edges, but Rock of Ages 2 captures the oddball, quirky charm of the original perfectly, and I definitely think it’s a game worth checking out on any platform.

Rock of Ages consists of a single and multiplayer mode. Single player is primarily focused around the campaign, which involves a number of historical figures (and paintings?) that stand in the way of Atlas’ quest to both avoid God and secure Earth, which he loses at the beginning of the game. Much like the first game, the story is told via Monty Python style animated sketches, most of which are legitimately laugh out loud funny and certainly stand out as one of the highlights in Rock of Ages 2. Seriously, the Adam and Eve sequence? Perfect.

Both single and multiplayer modes feature two types of gameplay, War and Obstacle Course. War is sort of the main feature of the game, wherein you’ll pair off against an opponent on a course themed around whatever section of the map you’re on. You’ll each have your own path to your opponent’s castle, with the main objective revolving around trying to bust down the castle door. This is done by scoring a number consecutive hits with your boulder, and will usually take 3 or more tries before successfully causing enough damage.

Each round consists of laying down defenses to either slow down or outright destroy the opposing sides boulder. There are a number of defenses at your disposal, ranging from simple pillars to more outlandish items, like elephants that can suck in and blow out boulders, giant armored war machines supplied with multiples guns, or charging bulls that’ll ram any nearby boulder. The trick is that you’re limited on how many defensive items you can bring into a match, and then limited further by the gold cost of each item.

When it comes time to actually roll your boulder, you’ll take direct control of the rock and maneuver it through winding passages filled with the defenses your opponent placed, attempting to not get knocked off course and keep your boulder’s health up long enough to slam against the opposing castle door. This is definitely easier than it sounds, each ball has its own unique handling characteristics, and some can be quite tough to control, with the payoff being higher health or more damage when they successfully connect. You can also make your boulder jump, and skilled players will eventually learn the course well enough to skip entire sections with well-timed leaps.

War is definitely the meat and potatoes of Rock of Ages 2. Planning out and executing the placement of your defenses is important, and can take some time to do effectively. Thankfully you’re generally allotted enough time to do so, and it’s real simple to place or remove objects using a controller. Likewise, rock handling can feel a bit unwieldy at first, but you’ll quickly get accustomed to the physics and momentum of each boulder, enough so that you can understand why you went off of course, or where you made a mistake. That’s not to say the handling can’t be frustrating, because it definitely can, but that doesn’t feel like anyone’s fault but your own.

The other main mode of the game, as mentioned before, is Obstacle Course. This is actually pretty fun, especially in multiplayer, as the game essentially devolves into a simple race. Defenses are placed randomly each round, but both you and your opponent will occupy the same length of track, competing head to head. The goal is still to reach the end castle first, but you’ll need to win a number of rounds to secure the victory. It’s pretty satisfying to see the opposing players boulder fly out of bounds while simultaneously triggering a trap right before you hit it, and I greatly enjoyed this mode even if it feels a little basic compared to War.

The only thing that doesn’t really work with Rock of Ages 2 are the handful of boss fights you’ll encounter in the campaign. Concept-wise I feel like these are pretty interesting, but the game isn’t meant for platforming style mechanics or precision jumping. I won’t ruin each fight here, as I think some are definitely worth experiencing just for the humor of it, but they are my least favorite moments in an otherwise really enjoyable game.

Outside of that, I think Rock of Ages 2: Bigger and Boulder is pretty fantastic, and well-worth playing. I was genuinely surprised that a sequel was even made, but I’m happy to see that ACE Team managed to recapture all of the magic from the first, and expand on it even more.

Grade: A-