Review: Rocket League
Traditionally, the summer season results in a lack of significant titles being released for consoles. Cue indie developer Psyonix, as their physics-based vehicle soccer game called Rocket League looks to be the salvation to the drought. A sequel to 2008’s Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, Rocket League delivers more veracity and excitement than its predecessor (which says a lot), and is sure to race into your heart instantly.
I have to commemorate Psyonix for having an incredible vision for this game. They saw their idea through and delivered something that is fairly accessible for all players to dive into. While the game is not perfect, I can say with confidence that this is one title not to overlook.
And who knew a game so with such a simple concept could be so addicting? After comprehending the initially baffling controls, Rocket League becomes impossible to put down. Players control an RC-like car in a domed soccer game, competing either solo or as part of a team of 2, 3 or 4. The tutorial is a good way to learn the ropes – as the driving and jumping mechanics take some time to master – but you won’t truly begin to develop the skills until compete in an actual match. Exhibition mode allows for a pressure free experience, while season mode lets you compete in a bracketed league, with playoffs and all.
Rocket League does include local multiplayer, but really heavily relies on its online mode. The game’s servers crashed earlier on post-release due to unanticipated high traffic, but most of the problems seem to have been worked out by now. Just like in the offline modes, online allows you to battle solo or as a team, with the latter being both extremely satisfying and frustrating at the same time. Void of voice chat (aside from pre-made words and sayings implemented with the d-pad), it’s quite difficult to communicate with your teammates. Having said that, it’s also a magical moment when you’re able to pull off a victory with complete strangers without being able to talk directly to them.
Now, let’s get this straight: gameplay comes first. It is an undoubtedly fun experience, and it’s short 5 minute rounds are the perfect length to keep you hooked in. But how does is it fair in the visual department? Surprisingly, the game looks fantastic. Rocket League doesn’t need to be the most graphically satisfying game, but it far exceeds the minimum requirement. At 60fps, 1080p, the game is smooth as butter, with little frame-rate drops. The audio in the game isn’t as impressive, but is still above par of expectations. It would have been nice to hear the vehicles roar, like in a game like Forza Motorsport 5, but it’s not honourable to compare the two as budget alone puts Forza at an unfair advantage.
Unfortunately as far as the cars themselves go, the whole situation surrounding them is fairly substandard. While there are plenty of different variations of styles and decals for your vehicle (you will have to play for a while before unlocking everything), none of the customization affects the attributes that it holds. In fact, changing the look of your car is strictly aesthetic, as every vehicle (almost) controls exactly the same. This is clearly a missed opportunity, considering different classes of cars would have given the game an added strategic element. Smaller cars should be quicker but susceptible to greater damage, while bigger cars should be the complete opposite. This seems like fairly standard stuff, and it’s unclear why it was not included in the final product.
Adding to the con column, Psyonix could have included a few more game modes in Rocket League. Exhibition, season, and online are virtually all the same, with the actual gameplay never deferring from mode to mode. Perhaps a mini-game of sorts would have resulted in a more rounded experience. Rocket League’s gameplay is incredibly gimmicky (in the best way possible), and has the potential of being utilized in a much more arcade like way.
Rocket League is a solid game that deserves significant praise. Its fast-paced nature and high-octane action makes for an addicting experience that is hard to walk away from. Psyonix built off of their previous success to deliver a more sturdy outing, and one can only assume that whatever is released next from the talented studio will be impressive. Rocket League might be the most genuinely fun gaming experience of the summer – and quite possibly all year.