GAME NAME: Rocket League
DEVELOPER(S): Psyonix Inc
PUBLISHER(S): Psyonix Inc
PLATFORM(S): PlayStation 4
RELEASE DATE(S): July 7th, 2015
Back in 2008 Psyonix Inc released what would become a cult hit called Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, also known as SARPBC. While I’m not big on the PC market anyways, this game had been unbeknownst to me until the sequel, Rocket League, launched on Sony’s smash hit PlayStation 4 as part of the Instant Game Collection. At first I was on the side of the skeptics, could soccer and RC cars really work as a game? After a few matches not only did it work, it pushed Splatoon to my back burner of go to online games.
Rocket League features a few single player modes, but these are an afterthought once you jumped into the frantic but fun online modes. There is a training mode which even after 20 hours of game play taught me some new tricks such as the aerial shot. There is also your standard exhibition mode as well as a championship mode. The championship mode has the most meat, teaming you with computer controlled counterparts and going through a schedule with a length to your liking. The first one I played of 27 weeks is way too long. I suggest 9 weeks or even 18 max. I wish there was some stat tracking in this mode as it would be cool to see who has the most goals and saves and other miscellaneous actions you get rewarded for. I also long for this mode to be online. If they could work out getting championship mode online for all human controlled cars, that would be the greatest thing to happen to online gaming since Madden and FIFA went online league crazy.
The online modes available are skimped but are super fun to play. There are 4 types of exhibition modes, 1v1, 2v2, 3v3 and that’s right you guessed it, 4v4. You can also play ranked matches of the first 3 types which will increase or decrease your ranking depending on your performance in the matches. 3v3 is the perfect sweet spot of team based game play though. 1v1 is way too barren, 2v2 is better but doesn’t really unfold quite like the 3v3 and 4v4 is just too much. I feel that two strikers and a goalie is just the best set up for the game. Here is also a free pro tip because A. I’m a pro and B. I’m super generous, learn to rotate your positions and learn to quickly, as this is the key to winning. Don’t have a designated goalie. If he comes up to clear a loose ball move him up and send back a striker to keep the best possible angles at play.
So now that I’ve talked about the modes in detail I’m sure you are wondering how the game plays and for the most part, like a charm. The throttle and brake and reverse feel natural on the R and L buttons respectively. The square will provide you with a hand brake to do a quick slide where as the circle will provide you with a boost. More boost can be picked up by running over pods on the field of play. Then the button that really sets the game apart is the jump button. This is kep to scoring in blocking and requires some patience and learning. The initial jump you will have down pat but you can then press the jump button again to fling your car towards the ball at another angle. This provides you with side shots as well as the coveted Bicycle Shot. All of the controls feel fine on the car but sometimes there is some floaty feeling to the physics of the ball that feels off, but is something you will definitely get use to.
This is graphically one of the best indie games I’ve seen to date. The arena’s all have a great look visually and do enough different to make them feel fresh even though they are all similar in design. The addition of Sweet-tooth from Sony’s Twisted Metal franchise in the PlayStation 4 is like icing on the cake. All of the unlockables make for great amounts of customization so that you will never see similar cars on the field. The sound effects have all of the car and soccer sound effects you would expect and the electronic soundtrack keeps the game moving. There are even 2 licensed tracks which add to the “full retail” experience.
This is the boldest statement I have ever made regarding a game in one of my reviews: Rocket League is the best indie title I’ve ever played. It does for the online sports indie genre what Shovel Knight did for the side scrolling genre. This game is not only better then almost if not any indie game released this year, it’s also better then most of the full retail titles. If you didn’t get Rocket League with your plus subscription, go get it now, it is easily worth the $20.