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Review: Rocket League

by onNovember 17, 2017
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Editor’s Note: Years after the game’s original release on Xbox One (and other platforms), this review has been updated by Nazih Fares following the release of the game on the Nintendo Switch as well as the updates to all customers which reflects on the overall score, and final verdict.

Since it’s first release on the PlayStation 4 as PS Plus incentive, over two years passed already, and we finally get to play Rocket League on the Nintendo Switch after the Xbox One and PC version. The game went from a casual fun competitive game to a full eSports league title with an amazing amount of unit sold on all platforms, so it made sense to see it on the Switch make use of its hybrid handheld and gaming console advantages.

Far from being a particularly demanding in terms of visual, Rocket League is the kind of game is really linked to two key components which are close to sport games, starting with the first: you need to be able to see as much as possible of the field, goal, ball and competitors without moving having to move your eyes. The second one is the need of the game engine to render proper sensation of the speed, movements and reaction of your reflex.

So to make sure these two requirements are met, Psyonix had to arrange its priorities in terms of visual fidelity, and had to reduce first the resolution to 720p in docked mode, and go as low as a 576p in handheld mode with dynamic resolution (it’s a graphical option that helps the game alter resolution on the spot to make sure you stick to the same frame rate at all time). This sadly does hurt a lot the game in terms of graphical beauty, displaying a very grainy textured game on TV, with an aliasing that is just overwhelming, but the priority again was to make sure Rocket League ran at 60FPS. It even goes as far as noticing how low resolution the textures are when it comes to the pitch, or the background stadium, and sadly to even the car’s details. In any case, the developers in charge of this port to Nintendo Switch – Panic Button – are promising enhancement after the launch, with a potential raise of resolution and anti-aliasing. Seeing how good they handled another move to the Switch with Doom, I’m confident they’ll fix all this soon, but it’s a shame that it’s being done after launch.

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Like most other games, these graphical downgrades are fixed when you jump to the Nintendo Switch handled mode, but sadly Rocket League is an exception to the norm. The game drops down to 1024×576 resolution, which makes it really difficult to read text and menues, but also reduce general readability of the game various elements. I honestly wouldn’t recommend playing this split screen on the handheld mode, as you would probably need some eye glasses after couple of sessions, which is kind of disappointing as it was one of the main reason for me to get this game again on the Nintendo Switch.

You see, like it is the case with Mario Kart 8, the Rocket League experience on the Nintendo Switch is mostly all about those fun house party game experience. I want to be able to bring my Nintendo Switch and play with my friends anywhere with split screen, and that’s not something you want to do with the current resolution at the moment. But hey silverlining, you get three cars themed after Nintendo’s famous plumber brothers as well one based on Samus’ ship.

But what if you’re more of an online player? Well, you’ll be happy to know that Rocket League online is actually well made, and that not only you’ll be playing with fellow Nintendo Switch players, but also Xbox One and PC gamers thanks to Psyonix cross-platform servers. This is amazing, because instead of having to wait for the servers to populate with Nintendo Switch players, you are welcomed by fellow Rocket League fans that have been playing this game for more than a year or two. The best part is that the servers are very stable, and you easily find games to join, with no real worry of latency as soon and quite a decent ping.

 


Rocket League – The Original Review published on February 25th, 2015

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.

Rocket League - VGProfessional Review (9)

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.

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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.

Rocket League - VGProfessional Review (4)

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 and later on Nintendo Switch 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.

What we liked

Xbox One version:

• A simple and devilishly fun gaming formula.
• Easy to learn, hard to master.
• You can't just play one match.
• Stable online multiplayer servers.

Nintendo Switch version:

• Cross-platform online matches with Xbox One and PC players
• Great for splitscreen games as long as you use the dock
• All previously released DLC and content available in the game

What is not fun

Xbox One version:

• Somewhat limited content.
• Don't bother with the AI bots.

Nintendo Switch version:

• A very downgraded experience in terms of visual fidelity
• Too difficult to play splitscreen games in handheld mode
• General readability issues in handheld mode

Editor Rating
 
Concept
9.0

 
Graphics
7.0

 
Sound
7.0

 
Playability
9.2

 
Entertainment
9.5

 
Replay Value
9.0

Final Score
8.5


Our final verdict
 

If you need a simple and fun game, playable with friends whether at home or online and offering an original formula, Rocket League is a perfect pick on Nintendo Switch as long as you are not nitpicky about graphics. This weird and crazy merge between two easy theme - football and driving game - is a wonderful demonstration that simple ideas, when well treated, can yield excellent games. The games will flow, with good laughs, and award all hardcore gamers who will invest time to move forward and do good deeds. It lacks a bit of content and variety in the game modes, as well as a noticeable graphical difference between all four platforms, but I do believe the developers Psyonix will fix this easily.

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