Review: Rocket League
Every dreamed of playing a futuristic sports that cleverly mixing football and motor racing? I don’t think so, unless you’re Psyonix. This is what offers Rocket League, the worthy successor to 2008’s Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars on PlayStation 3. A tad repetitive, not really innovative compared to its big brother, Rocket League is still an addicting game that gets you to stack one game after the other for hours, without noticing the time… So hang your seat-belt and hold fast, as we enter the world of Rocket League!
With the same principle of the original game, you control an RC car in a closed symmetrical arenas, with wall ramps and goals at each end. At the center of the arena, there is a huge sphere in the shape of a football (or soccer ball for the Yanks reader). Your task, as you have guessed it probably, is to push the ball into the opponent team (blue or orange) goal and keep it away from yours until the timer is done. The team match setup can range from 1v1 up to 4v4 (which can be chaotic), and the playing field is full power-up areas that recharge your turbo gauge.
In case of contact with an opposing vehicle, and believe me it happens often, that is where you will feel the most impact (and sadistic joy). By using the turbo gauge, you can ram brutally into your opponents and destroying, causing him to have to respawn and gaining the advantage in the game since your rival team will be short of a defender for couple of seconds. There’s several tricks as well that can be used during the game and overall the gameplay is very simple and intuitive: Other than moving around, use turbo, drive alongside the walls of the arena, jump, lock your camera to the ball, there’s more advanced move that will have you train hard to master, like trick shots, air somersaults and even aerial rocket boosts.
After learning the ropes with the tutorial mode and testing a few games with bots set at the early levels of difficulty, I quickly try to play a full season against AI, that spans throughout several weeks, like any tournament. This is also the opportunity for me to unlock some of the numerous customizable elements to our RC cars, including new models, painting patterns and accessories like flags and weird hats. Pretty soon, I figured, it was time to face some of my kinds, and try a little more “realistic” competition against other online players, which I’d though would be a good idea. Players around the world seemed to be more capable than I am, but then again, I’m no football fan. Nevertheless, on the technical point of view, matchmaking is as effective as it is on the PC and PlayStation 4 versions, which offers several way of playing (up to 4v4), ranked games, split-screen up to 4 players and obviously online with friends through a lobby system.
It is through these multiplayer matches that the title makes sense, as we learn from other players’ gameplay, and use more or less skill spins and double jumps to “shoot” the ball with style into the net. At the end of the game, a full replay is available for you to watch and it is also possible to save it, and relive it with various camera angles… You know, to show to your friends. Rocket League is basically that easy little game that will pull a parties of friends together, just having fun for a few hours – Mario Kart style – or going the competitive path, with rank mode, to raise your level and unlock all the content.
While the Rocket League launched earlier PC and PlayStation 4, back in 2015, the Xbox One version lands now in February, after its counterparts enjoyed some added content like the Chaos Run and Back to the Future DLCs (which includes 3 new car models), but it did get its share of exclusive content, with a Warthog inspired RC Car from the Halo series, and an homage to Gears of War’s Armadillo or even customization items themed after games like Sunset Overdrive.
However, something I didn’t like is the absence at launch of Rocket Lab – recently added to PC and PlayStation 4 – and in addition, the title is unfortunately not cross-platform. In other words, do not expect to play against opponents on PC, which seems a bit dumb, considering the whole Xbox universal platform with Windows 10, and the logical larger community already present on those platforms. Nevertheless, at the time of writing this review, the matchmaking on 3v3 matches has more 50’000 players at one time.
Finally, one last problem that is not fair, is the optimization of the title. While you could expect a clean and fluid constant framerate at 60fps on PC, the Xbox One seems to be dropping in the range of 45fps. The title as a whole is losing a lot of its charm and graphic displays because of aliasing, so we hope that Microsoft and Psyonix will work together to make Rocket League on Xbox One a must-have like it is now on the PC and PlayStation 4.
Rocket League was reviewed using an Xbox One downloadable code of the game provided by Psyonix. The game is also available on PC and PlayStation 4 via digital release. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published
• A simple and devilishly fun gaming formula.
• Easy to learn, hard to master.
• You can't just play one match.
• Stable online multiplayer servers.
• Somewhat limited content.
• Don't bother with the AI bots.