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E3 2011: Rock of Ages Hands-On Preview

We find the fun in rolling a boulder at a door in our hands-on with this quirky downloadable title.


Your goal is simple in Rock of Ages--you have to keep rolling boulders into a large door until it smashes open. It may sound simple, but the complications the game puts in your way make it a fun and unique experience, and we took it for a spin at this year's E3 in Los Angeles.

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The game, which will see you rolling boulders during different periods in history (hence the title Rock of Ages--get it?), is a fun mix of Marble Madness and tower defense where you have to destroy your opponent’s door before he can smash yours. The early levels we played were set in ancient Greece with Sisyphus, the mythical king who was punished by the gods to constantly roll a boulder up a hill. In Rock of Ages, though, he fights back by rolling boulders of his own.

The first level served as a tutorial and was set in Hades. For this level, the track from Sisyphus' door to the gate that he had to smash was fairly straight, so it was easy to navigate the rolling boulder using the left stick and pressing A to jump over uneven pieces of terrain. There were also several obstacles in the way, which you could choose to either avoid or roll straight through. Getting hit, however, damages your boulder, reducing the overall damage it makes on your target door when it finally hits. We had to roll two boulders down to smash the first door, but when it was done, Sisyphus quickly ran through and entered the next level.

This level introduced the tower-defense-like elements of Rock of Ages. Sisyphus had an opponent here, the king Agamemnon, who was trying to roll his own boulders to smash Sisyphus' gate. You will be able to buy defenses to damage or slow down an opponent's boulders. We had access to wooden towers, catapults, and boulder-seeking cows, who would try to ram incoming rocks and roll them off course. It's your job, then, to lay down adequate defenses for your door while trying to smash your opponent's.

You won't have much time to lay down defenses, as your opponent will relentlessly roll boulders towards your door without any care about whether you've had enough time to consider your options. We rolled our boulder, and in the 20 seconds or so it took to build another one, we quickly tried to place some towers and cows to steer any opposing rocks aside. Unfortunately, our opponent, Agamemnon, was too quick and managed to bust down our gate.

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With that, our brief hands-on with Rock of Ages was over, but we must say we're intrigued by the strategic possibilities the game sets. You'll also need a bit of skill to navigate a boulder, because the tracks we saw became increasingly convoluted. We're keen to get more hands-on time with this title, which is due out on Xbox Live and the PSN this summer.

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