Rocket League Review: Supersonic, Acrobatic Fun
Rocket League, the successor the criminally under-appreciated Supersonic Acrobatic Robot Battle Cars, is finally out after six months of hype and build-up. It feels like the game is some sort secret that only fans know of, ready to share it with the world if it will just listen. Like a fine lesser known restaurant or club that none of your friends have heard of, you just want to share Rocket League with everyone and anyone.
To bring you up to speed, you control a super-fast (some might say, super-sonic!) car with the ability to jump and boost in a game of hectic, vehicular soccer. When in the air, the player must tilt the car’s body to smack the ball, if in the air, with the right amount of force and at the right angle to hit it into the goal. All the while, your teammates and opponents are trying to get to the ball before you.
Its absolute chaos and beautiful in its simplicity and execution. Getting the hang of the controls takes time even if there isn’t a lot to learn. X makes your car jump, circle uses your boost and the left stick turns your car in the air. Triangle will let you swap between two cameras: One that is always focused on the ball and one that the player can move freely with the right stick.
The time it takes to get used to everything will vary from player to player but I wouldn’t expect longer than a half-hour learning curve. Once you get the control down, figuring out when to hang back or rush towards the ball becomes key. If you’re playing on 2v2, 3v3 or 4v4, its best to have a teammate or two stay behind the rest in order to pick up the pieces from the frenzy that ensues every time the ball goes near any goal. Imagine this as having a few players play center, close to the goal while the shooting guards hang back, waiting for the right opportunity to strike.
This creates an intense sense of risk and reward. You can watch a perfect shot set itself up perfectly one moment and see it all undone by the smallest interference half a second later. Do you hang back and play goalie or try to overwhelm the other team with a full-court press? So many strategies can be used in any Rocket League match, showcasing the game’s tremendous depth. Its legendary Nintendo level of being easy to pick up and constantly approachable while also having depth for more skilled players.
The pure insanity of each match make it so that even if you’re playing against seasoned veterans, you still have a pretty good chance at winning. Rocket League is palatable for any audience, children or adults. It simply works in all the right ways all the time. We haven’t seen a game for PS4 that is such a delight to play. Even indie multiplayer party games like Towerfall Ascension and Nidhogg can’t touch the absolute joy that is a few rounds of Rocket League with friends.
Visually, Rocket League is solid. While this won’t win any graphics of the year awards, the art style and visuals do a good job of making everything constantly clear for the player. You won’t lose track of where your opponents, teammates or where the ball is. Stadiums tend to blend in together despite some nice visual differences between them though no one is playing Rocket League for its graphics. For what the game is doing, having up to 8 players on screen once each flying around with superb physics, it is admirable how the game holds up with little performance hiccups.
Multiplayer, both online or locally with 4 people, is where you’ll spend most of your time. There is plenty to do outside of multiplayer, like a season mode which gives the game a more simulation type feel with playoffs and everything. There are tons of unlockable cars, stickers and hats for your car. Yes, hats and decals! Twisted Metal’s Sweet Tooth even made the cut though his ice-cream truck is sadly not all that customizable. There is also a training mode and challenges for the player to tackle, adding even more meat this game’s already hefty bones.
Minor complaints come from the game’s A.I. which can be unforgiving on All-Star difficulty and sometimes braindead on rookie. That goes for your A.I. teammates, who will knock the ball towards or into your goal on occasion. The harder A.I. isn’t necessarily unfair, just frustratingly accurate though besting them will prepare you for some of the wizards online.
Yes, the game’s servers have had issues since Tuesday, both on Steam and PS4. While the first 48 hours weren’t very good, since then online play as been mostly accessible. Psyonix has been straight forward on social media about these issues, preparing patches to fix the game’s problems soon and stating why their servers have had these issues. If only every developer was as forthcoming with information when their games don’t work on launch day. When the servers are up, there is little to no lag or inconsistencies with online play. It is smooth as butter and these server woes will surely be a thing of the past soon.
On PS4 the game doesn’t always maintain 60 frames per second but it doesn’t ever get that bad either. It might drop to the 40’s on rare occasion and into the 50’s but for the most part, game performance is rock solid. You’ll hardly notice any issues because you’ll be too busy battling it out on the field.
Rocket League is a sure-fire GOTY candidate. Its the best multiplayer game on PS4 in my opinion. It features addictive online play and hilariously awesome local play. It has enough content to appease solo players as well. Psyonix has perfectly executed a simple concept, walking the line between being accessible to newcomers while also having depth for die-hard fans with balance and ease. It almost feels like a crime to NOT pay for Rocket League on PS4, that’s how good it is.
Rocket League is the most fun you might ever have using your PS4 this generation. Easy to pick up, fun to master. Local and online play make this a must-have for parties. Pros: Crazy fun, accessible yet deep, local and online play, endless replay value Cons: Could use more maps, A.I. can be either dumb or impossible