Written Twisted Ideas
A sequel to Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, Rocket League cuts out all of the fluff of the single player of SARPBC to focus on the unique soccer gameplay. Without a dedicated single player component, does Rocket League really take off?
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4
What is it?
Rocket League, simply put is soccer with rocket powered cars. Teams consisting of 1 to 4 players drive into a large ball to “shoot” it into their opponent’s goal. Matches are 5 minutes long and goes into an overtime with no time limit if the game ends in a draw.
The gimmick of Rocket League besides the concept is that your cars can jump, use rockets to boosts and drive up walls and even the ceiling. You can you the mobility of the car to hit the ball in mid-air. With enough skill and positioning you can make incredible shots and saves while your car flips, rolls and flies through the air.
Matches take place in symmetrical stadiums with identical layouts. At the start of the game and after goals, players do a face off as they drive towards the ball in the center of the stadium. Throughout the stadium are boost nodes that recharges your car’s boost. Specific spots have a full boost node for a quick recharge.
There is a league that you can play offline against AI on multiple difficulties. You can play offline with up to four players and the league can be exciting if the AI is good enough to get some wins on you.
You can customize several different cars with decals, antenna and you can even change the boost and put on hats. After each match you earn a new customizable part.
Online consists of free play with any team size and ranked games in 4v4 matches. You can easily add friends to a party and go online to play. If players get disconnected from an online game then they are substituted with an AI partner. There is also cross play between the PC and PS4 versions of Rocket League
How does it look?
Rocket League’s visual style makes the cars look like toys due to their physics and their size vs the stadium. It’s reminiscent of Twisted Metal which features Sweet Tooth’s ice cream truck on the PS4 version. There’s an abundance of customizable parts that lets make your car look badass or absolutely silly. I can’t think of any driving games where you can put a propeller hat on your car.
There’s only a handful of stadiums but the lighting makes them stand out from each other despite how similar they all are. The graphics aren’t anything special but everything looks smooth and doesn’t suffer from any slowdowns other than some lag when playing online.
How does it sound?
The soundtrack is comprised with original tracks that only plays in the menus. There’s no music during a game where the only sounds are the from the cars and the crowd. The lack of music during the game takes some of the energy out of a game that’s inherently very silly. I don’t understand the need to cut the music out the same way as professional sports games. It would be like taking the music out of Mario Kart.
What do I think?
Rocket League is an incredibly fun game. It’s a great party game with its 4 player split-screen and is simple enough to be enjoyed by new players. There’s enough depth that you can get quite good at the game but the game, at least at this point, doesn’t ever feel unfair. Players can get good at making shots on goal but there’s generally a degree of luck involved in every game. I doubt many teams can coordinate passes or set up shots consistently.
I like the option of the team size because it does change the flow of a game. If there are more players involved you can have players play positions and the less players turns the game into more of a scramble. The instant replays is a great sight especially if players are making these heroic efforts only to completely miss the ball.
The customizable cars are great because it adds self-awareness to the game. The developers know their game is silly hence the title of the previous game. Best of all, you can drive with Sweet Tooth’s ice cream truck.
There online mode does something that I haven’t seen other games do before. If a player drops out of a game then they are quickly replaced by the AI. The AI is replaced by a player if a new player joins the game midway through. This is works incredibly well because in most online games the dynamic shifts so much if you take even on player out. Sometimes the AI may be a little too good but they can make mistake too. Again, the game doesn’t feel unfair.
I briefly played Rocket League’s predecessor, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars but only briefly. I may have played its soccer mode but it was its single player that turned me off of it. The single player had a several challenges that graded you on performance. It was difficult getting all the stars on any given level. There were a lot of PlayStation 3 downloadable games that had difficult to near impossible challenges. I should go back to SARPBC so see if I was looking at the game too harshly but I’ve been growing to dislike games that segment their games into short levels.
Should you get it?
Rocket League is currently free during July for PlayStation Plus subscribers and you will not be disappointed. Currently there isn’t much to do in Rocket League but it’s a fantastic party game and one that doesn’t require too much skill to compete online with friends. The developers will be added new features in future updates and I hope Rocket League has a bright future ahead of it.