Welcome to the ninth installment of The Otaku’s Gaming Study, a series I use when doing mini-reviews of series that have been released in the past – and due to my thesis writing (In this case), have not been able to cover to date. For this one I would like to cover two digital download games released by Ubisoft and ATLUS USA respectively – Babel Rising and Rock of Ages, both of which involve the building and destruction of structures and both bring some rather interesting gameplay mechanics to the mix.
Review codes for both these games were kindly provided by the respective publisher and in both cases Playstation 3 releases were reviewed.
Mondo Production | Ubisoft
Now available on the Playstation Network, XBox Live Arcade, iOS, Windows Phone and Android devices. Some features may differ between platforms.
Many games in the past have used the Tower of Babel in literature and gaming and based off the bible was a tower built by a united humanity to reach the heavens (If you are interested, read the Wikipedia entry for it HERE). This time the tower is not infested with monsters or anything along the lines – instead you play as “God” and your objective is to prevent the humans from constructing this tower with an arsenal of abilities from lightning bolts to fire. Unfortunately there is nothing much else to this storyline other than the shift in eras leaving me rather indifferent in this regard.
The gameplay is very similar to previous tower defense games on the market, only instead of occasionally fortifying and building towers, it is your job to prevent the destruction of them against the evil human beings building it through any means possible. The game is split up into many stages each of which are split up into numerous waves – each wave consisting of swarms of humans who are prepared to run up the tower and continue building despite what happened to the numerous others in history who attempted the same feat. The one limiting factor of this game is that despite the number of elements under your control – you are only limited to two, personally I would have been glad to have a greater difficulty to be able to make use of more as it is difficult to determine what you need to use prior to starting the level. The system itself however is quite fun however better in small bursts rather than a long playthrough as gameplay does get repetitive pretty fast.
This release had support for the Playstation Move controller, and if you have access to one I would recommend it as it goes along much more nicely with the gameplay than some okay but somewhat awkward at times controls with the normal controller which takes a while to get accustomed to.
The game looks appropriate for the gameplay presented and they do occasionally provide some really nice locations for the tower to be built and special effects for skills. However, besides this the visuals are nothing overly fancy, average overall for what I would expect of a game of this price. The game does however run smoothly enough. In terms of sound and music, the music and sound effects provide enough but nothing special.
Storyline/Character Development: D
Music/Voice Acting: C
Personal Opinion: C
Overall Score: C-
Rock of Ages
Ace Team | ATLUS USA
Now available on the Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network and on the PC. Some features may differ between platforms.
Rock of Ages is a unique merger of two genres – Tower Defense and competitive racing and despite a couple of minor issues results in one of the most memorable and unique digital download games I have played to date. Apparently throughout history – namely the five eras showcased in this game (Ancient Greek, Medieval, Renaissance, Rococo and Romanticism eras), it was customary for wars between men to be waged by inclined surfaces and giant moving boulders to crush the leader of the opposite team. There is nothing much in terms of storyline, but before each of the levels you are displayed with some rather witty, spontaneous and comedic cutscenes pertaining to your next foe which added a nice touch – most of which are rock related. You play as Sisyphus (Wikipedia) who after breaking down a door enters a portal to escape Hades and enter the land of the living in different time zones – now on a quest to take down everyone from The Plague to Leonardo Da Vinci, all of which are displayed in a very Monty Pythonish manner.
So how do you play this game? As mentioned above the game is a mix of tower strategy and competitive racing. The stages consist of two equal paths that start from the middle and head downwards through curves and upward inclines to the end for which you or your foe is hiding behind a fortified door. You must take control of a boulder for which you must circumnavigate your way through the path to knock down the enemies door – which takes several hits before your foe knocks down your own door. To add a lot more challenge, in between construction of the boulder you are given an increasing wealth of traps and hindrances you can place down on certain areas of the enemies path in order to stop them in their traps or even destroy their boulder. Such examples of these include castles which can be knocked down at the cost of speed, bombs to damage the boulder or even livestock which can knock a boulder off the course entirely. The game does not penalize one for falling off (And you will be doing it quite often in the later levels), however once again this is all attributed to speed. Throw in a couple of boss fights, numerous stages and characters as well as increasing number of creative traps at your disposal and you have yourself a rather enjoyable single player mode that may originally seem to be easy – but ends up getting quite difficult.
The game also includes several additional modes for those who want to step away from the main campaign. The Playstation 3 release contains a new mode “Obstacle Mode” where players compete head-to-head with a friend or AI opponent in a level filled with randomly placed defenses with the first to cross the finish line winning – out of all the inclusions this was the most enjoyable. The game also features a Time Trial where you endeavor to finish a level in the fastest time possible and Skeeball Training where knocking down structures and targets earn you points leading you to trying to get your ball into a hole on a skeeball board at the end of the level – this level however needed some refinement as it was too easy to guarantee a high score by taking things slowly then jumping up the ramp.
The levels are not all that realistic in design however are filled with comical environments and design features which if you take the time to admire them, are well designed with each era having a unique aesthetic. The same goes for character and “Rock” designs which match the comical and unique stylings of this game. This complements the music as well which while the voice acting may consist of mostly grunts, sound effects and background music work well with the atmosphere ACE Team have built within this release.
Overall, I was very impressed – especially with a game for its price tag.
Storyline/Character Development: C
Music/Voice Acting: B
Personal Opinion: B+
Overall Score: B+