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Game Info:

Rock of Ages
Released: September 7, 2011 
ESRB Rating: E10+ Crude Humor, Violence
Available On: PC, Xbox
Genre: Action, Racing, Indie, Strategy
Number of Players: 1-2 offline; 2 online
Price: $9.99

Rock of Ages follows the story of Sisyphus, trapped in Hades, who has been forced to roll a giant stone up a hill. Unfortunately, he never is able to successfully reach the top before a demon pokes him with a spear in the rear end which causes the stone to roll back down. This happens again and again until Sisyphus has the idea to roll the rock down the hill, flatten his enemies and escape Hades.

Rock of Ages is an interesting mix of tower defense and racing. Even though keyboard is supported, a gamepad is greatly recommended. The player has to dodge and jump over his enemies' fortifications while trying to hit his opponents door as hard as possible. Since all the action happens on a levitated “track”, staying on the path while finding alternate “unguarded” paths can be a challenge. The player also has to construct his own defense with a wide assortment of objects including cows, dynamite, giant fans and catapults. These defenses are bought with cash that comes from destroying the opponent's  structures. So as you can see, it creates this cycle of destruction and rebuilding. Most of the time, however, there is not nearly enough time to plan and strategize due to the short time it takes to “rebuild” your stone. Because of this, most of the levels came down to flat-out racing.

Racing is definitely the central part of Rock of Ages. At the start of every run, you can choose which type of stone to use if you have the necessary cash. There are 4 types: Iron Bands, which gives extra protection to your stone; Fireball, which deals additional damage; Petroleum, which can hinder your opponent's cash flow; and Wings, which allow double-jumps. Since the regular stone costs no extra cash, I found myself using it far more than the others.

Highlights:

Strong Points: Solid racing with strategy sprinkled in
Weak Points: Somewhat repetitive gameplay; boss battles pointless
Moral Warnings: Contains destruction, toilet humor, and inappropriate sounds

There are several boss battles scattered at intervals which signify an “end” of a period of history. Dragons, giant flying heads, and giant statues are all included in these rather bizarre sections. Although these do break up the regular activities of smashing doors, they feel rushed and utterly pointless. The only one that I thought was decent was the final one. 

The story starts out strongly, but then it disintegrates into simply humorous cartoons. Most of them reference pop culture and are described as having a Monty Python flair. Though many of them are rather comical like when Leonardo Da Vinci talks about the “outside", there are many that are just awkward. Unfortunately, several contain some bathroom “humor”.

The game took me around 4 hours to finish the campaign, but the additional challenges and multiplayer should add some more time. A challenge I particularly enjoyed was that of finding the keys. These keys are scattered in often hard-to-reach places along the tracks. You do have to collect several keys to progress in the story, but I frequently found myself trying to obtain every one.

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 82%
Gameplay - 12/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 10/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls 5/5

Morality Score - 84%
Violence - 8/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 8.5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

Besides the main campaign, there is War, Skeeball and Time Trial. War and Skeeball can be played with another player both online and with another local player. I should note that two Xbox 360 controllers are required for local multiplayer. Unfortunately, the multiplayer is not very active so it's pretty much limited to playing with friends. In Skeeball, you try to smash targets before reaching the end where you attempt to jump in different holes to receive score modifiers. Unfortunately, this isn't very well put together as you can easily cheat and get the highest scores possible rather easily. Time Trial is just what it sounds like: try to reach the enemy gates as fast as possible. 

I must say I was very impressed with the music of this game. It features a variety of classical music which goes hand-in-hand with the period of history you are “rolling” through. I like how the music becomes higher pitched when you deal damage to your opponent's door. The soundtrack is also included free with the game.

Since this does go through several periods of history, it contains some art with characters with little or no coverings. It reminded me of visiting an art museum. There is also the issue of rolling over enemies, but since the enemies are cardboard cutouts it really isn't much of an issue. There also are some noises which are rather inappropriate. There is a boss battle where you have to hit a giant statue of Michelangelo's “David” in the groin by being shot by cannons. Thankfully, he is covered, but it still is very awkward.

Overall, this is a very fun and hilarious game with a very unique feel at a good price. It can be a great way to provide some quality time playing against friends and family.

 - Ethan Vandersaul

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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