The big thing about video games is that you can do things you could NEVER do in real life. Some examples are: murdering people outright and taking their cars in an open-world crime sim, manage your own football/soccer team in Football Manager, or indeed taking control of rocket powered cars playing soccer. Such is the case with Rocket League, from Psyonix Studios, the sequel to their PS3 game Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars.
Rocket League is a simple enough game to understand: take control of a car and score more goals than the opposing player/team. You do this by hitting a ball with your car into the opposing player/team’s goal. When the five-minute timer runs out, the team with the most goals wins. In case of a tie, the game goes into overtime, where the first goal takes the match.
For this review, I’m using a Mouse/keyboard setup, but a controller is supported and more importantly, recommended. WASD moves the car, left mouse button boosts, right mouse button jumps. You can then spin around using WASD and twisting the car with Q and E, making for some exciting trick shots. Finally, locking on to the ball is as easy as hitting the space bar.
There is a single-player single match and a season mode, but let’s be real here, the core of the game is local and online multiplayer. You can play 1v1 to 4v4 matches, but also play some variations of the Rocket League format (such as Hoops; Snow Day – basically Rocket Hockey – and Rumble, soccer with powerups.) and there’s an abundance of people online playing. What’s more, the game’s netcode is wonderful. sure it can crap out every now and again, especially if your connection is not up to snuff, but on a good day, Rocket League is smoother than baby oil.
All of this means nothing if the game is not fun to play, and thankfully my experience with the current version of Rocket League is very positive. As previously stated, the netcode is actually worthwhile, but more importantly, the game is fun. If it sounds like there’s not enough to talk about, that’s because there really isn’t. I mean, what else can you talk about from rocket-powered car sports? I guess the environments are unique, some being typical soccer fare (from a grand stadium to a pastoral field), some being not so typical (a subway station and a Mad Max-style wasteland) to settings you can only find in a video game, like Aquadome and as of the most recent update, Starbase ARC. You can also customize your car with different wheels, rocket boost types, colors, etc. to suit your liking.
That reminds me, the game is constantly updated with new cars and DLC every so often, and hell, the game has a e-sports following like no one’s business. extra cars can run you a couple of bucks each, while DLC arenas and extra modes are free. On one hand, having the extra cars are nice, especially since the differences are cosmetic, with some cars being licensed (one particularly caught my eye: the Back to the Future DeLorean Time Machine, complete with its own custom boost).
On the other hand, that’s one of my biggest issues with Rocket League: all the customization options in Rocket League don’t do you jack squat. While it is admirable that success in Rocket League’s pitch all comes down to player skill; the fact that there’s different cars and all of them are basically the same doesn’t do the game any favors. Ideally, the bigger cars could hit the ball harder when boosting, the smaller cars can be more maneuverable and agile. I guess this is to make the game more accessible to newer players and a great deal more balanced, especially when it comes to DLC. After all, the DeLorean is a very big car (with a max speed of 88 before it starts to bust through the time-space continuum, I assume) and it acts the same as, say, the car called Paladin. as a matter of fact, the addition of different tires doesn’t necessarily make the car perform better at all.
Rocket League has a system of item drops that also bug me. rather than having a bundle of items every level (of course Rocket League has a EXP ranking system, every game does these days), you get an item at intervals determined by the notches on the EXP meter. reaching a particular interval gets you one item, that can be anything from a set of tires, to a different boost flame, to a flag based on Warframe, to a new decal. What irks me about these drops is that with the sheer number of items you could get, it seems random what item you’re going to get.
Also of note, when the internets are not acting in your favor, Rocket League’s online play is nearly unplayable. from lag messing with your game, to the ball flying all over the place, to your car jerking around from one end of the map to another. This occurs when your ping isn’t up to snuff, but it still is annoying. couple that with highly skilled players populating the matchmaking, and you have a recipe for ragequits.
At the end of the day, though, Rocket League is an addicting, fun game with a simple concept and a lot of replay. My feelings towards the game are positive, though a few tweaks might make it a better game. Or worse, I unno, given the community.
Extra Z Scorecard
reviewed on: STEAM
Plus+ : Fun, addicting soccer play; multitudes of modes; fun multiplayer; that Back to the Future car
Minus-: A lack of reasons to customize your car, sometimes unstable netcode can lead to ragequit.
RANK: Real Madrid