Rocket League Game Review for PC

Rocket League Game

Few people will remember Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars (a name straight from a boardroom, surely). I certainly don’t. That’s why, when Rocket League came to Steam and PS4 this year, it was such a refreshing surprise. Here’s a hectic, fast-paced amalgamation of driving and football that provides short matches of intense excitement, enjoyment and edge of the seat gameplay. It’s an absolute gem of a game that’s managed to shift over 1.5 million copies on Steam alone since its release on the platform in July of this year.

A somewhat awaited sequel to a game that can be called a cult classic at best, Rocket League pits two teams of over the top rocket-powered cars against one another in a variety of formats – 1 v 1, 2 v 2, 3 v 3 or 4 v 4 – in either ranked or unranked matches. Developed by the relatively inexperienced Psyonix, is Rocket League a hit or a miss?

Available for PC & PS4

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PS4 Annoucement Trailer

Hitting Top Gear

Rocket League Game: Hitting Top Gear

Fans of Top Gear will be immediately familiar with the concept. There’s a pitch, there’s a bunch of cars and one very large, very bouncy football – or carball – and two goals. The goals are more of a dugout than a traditional set of goalposts, but its close enough. If it looked fun when Captain Slow, Hammond and Clarkson were doing it, rest assured that it’s probably even more fun taking part in Psyonix’s take on it. Each match lasts five minutes – it sounds short – but it’s one of the main reasons why it has such as ‘one more game’ feeling. You don’t have to waste a half-hour in a game that you know from five minutes in you’re going to lose (players of League of Legends and DotA 2 will know this feeling all too well), and the games are so short that people are more willing to stick around and try to fight back rather than just quit – most people, at any rate.

Rocket League isn’t just about simple cars playing football, though. Things have been taken to the next level. These cars are rocket powered. That means that the player has access to an extremely powerful afterburner that can propel a vehicle at rapid speed along the pitch, or up a wall, or even flying through the air. Fuel can be collected in the form of power ups that appear on the pitch, so conservation and clever use of the afterburner is required.

Streamlined Multiplayer in 2015

Rocket League Game: Streamlined Multiplayer in 2015

If you look at the current most popular online games – DotA 2, League of Legends, Hearthstone – they all have something in common. They revolve around a ‘meta game’ that either evolves naturally over time or is pushed by game updates and new contents. There are a wide range of different tactics, layers upon layers of mechanics that drastically alter how games can change, even if the same characters are used time after time.

Rocket League achieves that same game to game difference but via a fundamentally different way – they leave it to the difference in the personality and skill level of the people playing. The rules never change. There are different maps (all beautifully designed and themed), but they all behave in the same way. And yet, queuing up for game after game will rarely result in the same experience twice in a row. Even forming a team doesn’t hamper the variety of match types, as there are so many different levels of skill and viable strategies that Rocket League never feels stagnant.

It's the Little Things

There are certain nuances to Rocket League that are a big reason as to why it’s so appealing. For starters, the matches may be five minutes in length, but they won’t end until the ball touches the floor. By far the most exciting and heart-breaking moments I’ve had with the game have come when we’ve either scored or conceded a goal after the timer has hit 00:00. It’s not something that happens every day, but it does happen often enough for it to almost become something to look forward to, and it certainly dissuades complacency toward the end of tight games.

Rocket League Game: Different Courts/Pitches

I mentioned before that the different courts/pitches are well themed and creatively designed – this is a description that easily applies to the rest of the game, too. It’s a very pretty game, but one that seems to perform well on a wide range of hardware. For a fast paced multiplayer game, the more advanced graphical effects don’t become a hindrance, so there’s no real need to turn the settings down if you’re feeling super competitive – something that games like Call of Duty and CS:GO have never really dealt with.

Rocket League Game: Car Customisation

The art style is bright and vibrant and there’s a ton of car customisation with new styles that can be unlocked just by playing the game. Psyonix even give you a mass of different afterburner effects to choose from (the bubbles are still my favourite) as well as many different types of hats – something they’ve clearly learned from Valve’s success with Team Fortress 2 – and there are decals and different types of pain on offer, too.

Final Thoughts

Rocket League is going to be one of the best games of the year. There’s no doubt of that in my mind. It’s a relatively simple premise that’s executed exceedingly well. The skill ceiling that’s come about because of the ability to drive up walls and launch yourself halfway across the sky to volley the ball into the net means that even the most seasoned of players will be constantly striving to improve. It’s €20 on Steam and free for PlayStation Plus subscribers on PS4. Despite that discrepancy, if you can only buy it on Steam it’s still easily worth the money. It could cost twice as much and still be worth the money. You will need a controller though, as playing with the keyboard is not a good experience. If you haven’t already, give it a go – you’ll have a blast!

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