Rock of Ages 3: Make or Break is the first game in the series that I’ve actually played. No joke, right, when we were initially offered preview code, I thought it was like a rock band management game, and I based that purely off the title.
It’s not a rock band management game, unfortunately (I’d love to manage The Killers and make them play only the songs I like) but it is still a very good game, depending on what your tastes are.
Rock of Ages 3 is a tower defence game and a roll-a-ball-down-a-hill game. I honestly don’t know how else to explain it. Monkeyball-ish? One half of the gameplay has you setting up defences to stop the enemy’s massive boulder from crashing into your castle gates. The other half has you controlling a massive ball as you try to make it from one end of the map to the other, eventually smacking the enemy’s castle gate. The first one to smash the other’s doors in wins. Simple.
There are a few tutorials to guide you along the way if you’re a newbie, but I had a problem with them; they were too damn small to read. For a while, I thought the little towers were stationary towers that fired arrows, and that’s because I couldn’t read the initial tutorial text. They aren’t towers; you have to place and then drag across to build a wall. I found this out the hard way, but now you know better.
I’m a big fan of tower defence games, and I’ve recently been playing one of the best I’ve ever played with Orcs Must Die! 3 on Stadia, and so I’m quite happy to have another one to waste away the hours with. And it is easy to waste away the hours as it’s got that one-more-go quality that these kinds of games tend to have. What they lack in strong narratives, they make up for with brilliant gameplay, and Rock of Ages 3 is a fine example.
It’s tricky, sure, and you’ll be tempted to see how far you can throw your gamepad down a hill before long, but it’s still good fun, and surprisingly deep, but only if you want it to be. I’m not one for staring at stats all day long, so this wasn’t for me, but you get new boulders throughout the game, and they each have their own stats. So things like weight, speed, acceleration, damage, and so on. What I really liked was that the balls themselves were typically ridiculous, ranging from a regular boulder with a face etched into it, to a square boulder that is a nuisance to control, a rat king-style mess of sheep, and even Humpty Dumpty himself, and many more.
It’s a silly game that doesn’t take itself too seriously at all. The story is, well, I don’t really know. It’s told through some crazily animated cut-scenes that are thankfully skippable, and because the gameplay was so good, I skipped them all. I know. I’m scum. But really, who’s playing this for its story?
Stars are earned for your performances, and then they’re used to unlock the next set of levels. The levels themselves are quite varied, too. You’ve got the standard defend-and-attack mode, but also time attack where you have to navigate a massive bomb through the map before the time runs out. My personal favourite was the obstacle courses in which you’re racing against another boulder. Yes, boulder racing. There a few various modes to play throughout the campaign, which helps in breaking up what would otherwise be a very monotonous game, so I appreciated that even if I wasn’t keen on all of the different disciplines.
Sending the boulders on their way isn’t an easy task as the controls are very heavy, and the physics are very good. You need to time your jumps (yes, boulders can jump) and learn where the corners are that you can take a cheeky shortcut. You need to be ever mindful of the obstacles that are blocking the path, and deciding which ones are worth smashing into and which ones to avoid. Likewise, you’ll want to know when to hit solid objects, and even how to hit them. Smack an unbreakable wall head-on and you’ll be slowed down, but give it a glancing blow and you could deflect off it in a way that works for you. As I said, there’s depth there, but only if you want it. Otherwise, you can cheese your way through the game with a combination of luck, skill, and patience.
Another highlight that had me smiling was the music. It blends classical symphonies with modern rock, and so I liked to play it nice and loud so that my neighbours may think I’ve finally gotten a bit of culture about me. Little did they know, I was sending an inflated cow bounding down a hill.
I really liked Rock of Ages 3: Make or Break. It was something different, but familiar. I’m definitely going to be keeping it on my hard drive for a while, not only to grab as many trophies as possible and to perfect my techniques but also to see what the community can make with the new level editor. I’ve not tried it myself because I’m stupid. Honestly, I can’t do that kind of stuff to save my life. Years ago I tried to make a skate park in one of the older Tony Hawks games and my Gamecube controller got chucked. It’s not for me, but I’ll happily play what smarter people can make for me. Go on then, get to it. Make me some levels.
Rock of Ages 3: Make or Break PS4 Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8/10
Rock of Ages 3 is silly, ridiculous, but ultimately, very fun. It took me a while to warm to it but once I did I had a hard time putting the controller down. There are more than enough levels to keep you throwing daft boulders for hours on end, and the level editor should ensure that there’s many more to play long after you’ve mastered the included lot.
- A ridiculous concept that works brilliantly, merging tower-defence and what is essentially lobbing rocks
- Amazing classical music with an injection of modern rock
- You can throw Humpty Dumpty around for days
- Some of the text is borderline unreadable
- Not everything is explained and there’s a lot of learning as you play
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.