Rocket League has had me shouting at the screen during states of distress and rage. As a person who has no interest in football or cars, the combination of both in Rocket League has fuelled a passion in me that I never knew existed. Taking part in frantic matches where cars speed, soar and often blow up, all to get an oversized ball in a goal, is quite simply dangerously addictive.
Rocket League is a game with a simple concept. As the player you control a small car, taking it to the pitch in an attempt to beat the opposing team at a game of football. The pitches are quite similar to those in football, except that the walls and corners are occupied by curved ramps. The ball is larger than the cars and has a weightlessness that means when it's hit, glides at a fair speed that feels natural. The physics of both of the cars and ball allow for precision shots from the drivers that amalgamates in exciting matches.
Speaking of driving, Rocket League wouldn't be anywhere near as good as it is if the controls weren't pitch perfect. The game handles superbly with cars having a real sense of speed. More so, you can soar off the ground using boosts and perform rolls and jumps for trick shots. Throughout my time playing I saw a fair amount of spectacular goals and even scored some special ones myself. The ramps around the pitch allow you to drive up the walls and onto the roof and this gives an added layer of verticality to the matches. Scoring goals is difficult but the sense of accomplishment you get when you do would be diminished if it were easy. Setting up goals through slight nudges, or soaring through the air and shooting the ball from a rebound into the net is a fantastic experience. It can get aggressive as well with cars hitting into each other, causing them to fly halfway across the pitch. Position your attack and with the right amount of speed you can even destroy another player’s vehicle.
Matches last five minutes and during my time playing I had games where upwards of 11 goals were scored to none at all. A draw means the match will go into overtime, a tense battle where the first team to score wins, much like the Golden Goal in football. Matches can be played 1v1 to 4v4 throughout a season or indeed online. During the season you can select your own teammates, team name and flag, and battle to win the cup. The AI is tough: I could only manage the Pro difficulty to have any chance of winning. AI teammates can however be a bit of a letdown, letting seemingly easy shots in the goal time and time again. This is an occurrence that happens more often on the lowest difficulty which I wouldn't recommend playing for long anyway as the higher ranks are more rewarding.
In fact I’d recommend playing this game with friends through local co-op or online play. I actually didn't know about split screen until I saw an option for it in the miscellaneous settings but once found, the game provided many hours of co-op fun. Up to four players can join a session and matches become a riotous ordeal where communication, careful shots and a bit of pot luck become key to winning. Playing with, or competing against, your friends is a tense experience but a light-hearted one where losing is still as enjoyable as winning because of the core gameplay.
Online play is fluid and seamless, providing the servers are up and running. I did experience one full day when they were down and there were a few other times when I couldn't connect to any matches. Psyonix are aware of the issues though and the problems aren't too major to worry about just yet.
Outside of the matches, you gain experience from both online and offline play and unlock various items to customise your vehicles with. There are a number of cars to unlock and items such as decals, flame trails, flags, hats, paint and more to give unique characteristics to your vehicle. A leaderboard also exists to let you view your rank. Apart from a tutorial mode and the aforementioned modes not much else exists within the game. Whilst the core matches are undeniably fun it would have been nice to see other modes within the game. It’s only a slight niggle in an otherwise perfect package and definitely one that doesn't negate the experience.
Rocket League succeeds the most with its gameplay. The pure blend of speed, flight and impact between the cars and the ball is thrilling. The five minute matches are always tense and often end up with teams scoring in the last seconds. It’s a nail biting experience but whether you win or lose I guarantee you’ll have fun throughout the match. Rocket League is a testament to perfect gameplay. Because the sheer act of driving forward is so much fun and hitting the ball feels joyous and engaging, you’ll find yourself unable to stop playing. I know I have.
Rocket League (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)
Excellent. Look out for this one.
Rocket League is a blast to play and will have you coming back for more, time and time again.