Rocket League (2015) Review

Ever read that Darwin Award story about a rocket powered car?

Depending on who you ask, on the short list of game mechanics, having the words “rocket powered car soccer” in the same sentence sounds like the greatest or dumbest idea ever.  Thankfully “Rocket League” falls into the former while gleefully sprinkling bits of the latter on itself without affecting the core game.

Zipping around a giant stadium with your customized rocket car and booping a huge soccer ball across a field in the hopes you score has never been so freakin’ fun, especially if you manage to coordinate enough with your online teammates to pull off some epic plays.

The game does have a single player mode (fun enough), but why bother?  The most dangerous predator of all is man, and there are a BEVY of them online waiting to challenge you in 1v1 or 3v3 matches (as of this writing, there are 145 thousand players online).  I haven’t had a hitch in matchmaking or gameplay since upgrading my internet to 50Mbps, and I relish each match with my internet teammates and opponents.

Thing is, I don’t play this so often.  I’ve had it in my Steam library for almost two years and only logged 33 hours.  But when I do play it, I binge, sometimes going for weeks on end either cheering like my home team won or cursing because I can never seem to grasp the core mechanics.

Like the “Smash Bros” series, “Rocket League” is one of those games that’s easy to pick up but difficult to master.  The controls are simple enough, yet execute commands lightning quick with tight maneuvering.  You can achieve limited flight with your jump and boost mechanic, but aiming yourself toward your intended target will take hours of practice.  Most of all, prepare to say to yourself “God, I suck” over and over when you keep missing what look to be easy shots.

Thankfully, win or lose, you earn points to level up (I’m a pro myself: yeah, kind of a big deal) and unlock goofy customization items you can affix to your vehicle.  They can range from decals to how your thrusters fire off, with my personal favorite being a rainbow musical staff shooting out and blaring speed metal.  They don’t do anything to alter car performance: they just track various stats like wins, shots or kilometers boosted.

One thing I cannot shake, even two years later, is just how GOOD this game looks.  Your car, no matter which you pick, glistens beautifully under the stadium lights.  Blades of grass sway gently amidst the chaos unfolding.  Even the tiniest decal or hardware on your vehicle manage to stand out without distracting from the action, making it look and feel like the pinnacle of rocket car technology.

It’s hard to be bored with this game, especially when the developers are still cranking out paid and free DLC that add to the experience.  One particular new mode I’d come to enjoy more than the core game is “Rumble,” where “Mario Kart” inspired items are thrown into the mix.  Amazingly, each item has its own pros and cons, and not one feels overpowered: they’re all a blast to use.  Definitely make this game mode your new cornerstone at your next party.

As far as paid DLC, thankfully it’s in the form of optional vehicles.  They all look amazing, and it’s hard not to shell out the meager three dollars just so you can say to people “I’ve driven the Batfleck Batmobile AND the “Back to the Future” DeLorean, so suck it!”

“Rocket League” is timeless, and I sincerely hope the reliable servers stay online for many years ahead.

10/10

PROS: Loads of unlockables, Plenty of opponents to face, Paid DLC not required to enjoy the game

CONS: Good question…

 

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