“The following is a guest post by The Red Hot Chili Mage (from Stuff and That).”
“OMG! What a save! Wow!”
Alright folks? I’m The Red Hot Chili Mage, or as some of you may know me, Reuben from Stuff and That, and I’m gonna wreck this joint. You may have guessed from my name that I’m a Red Hot Chili Peppers fan (kudos to those who have!), and it turns out I’m the youngest writer for this website.
My age may explain my obsessive gaming habits, as, for the last year, most of what I’ve played is Rocket League. Never since Gotcha Force have I been engulfed into a game, kicking and screaming, as I have with Psyonix’s car-football (or Soccar, if you like) simulator. It’s impressive that such a simple game could grip me so much.
However, there is a background here as for why I’ve become so addicted. 1. I love a good game of football (or soccer, sorry). 2. I love a good car. 3. I love a simple game that I can just turn on and play for any amount of time. 4. I love a quality game!
There are few things Rocket League sets out to do, but it gets it all about spot on. It carries over the original car-football formula of the 2008/09 PS3 game Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars onto an eighth generation release, releasing on the PS4, PC and eventually the Xbox One. Psyonix used the Unreal Engine 3 for the game, which makes most of it play smooth and without frame-rate dips and the like, as every blade of grass and glint in your window is shown off with a colourful and detailed aesthetic – making this particular sports game a nice looking game indeed.
To utilise the Soccar-simulator’s nice lookin’ graphics, you can customize your car (or, cars, now, because you can create multiple Presets) with different paint textures/colours, Decals (like flames, lightning, etc.), Rocket-Trails (boost, for those jargon haters out there), Toppers (hats – you can effectively dress-up your car), and Antennas (please don’t tell me I have to tell you what they are).
The game of Rocket League involves two teams of rocket-cars duking it out against each other either in a one-on-one Duel, Doubles match, Standard three-on-three match, or four-on-four Mayhem, as they attempt to score goals against each other in Orange and Blue teams. Every player is given one-hundred boost to start with, which when used can deteriorate to zero, although there is a selection of boost pickups across the playing arena, so players can top-up their boost and use it to score some goals. Along with boosting, there is the ability to break, drift and double-jump. Simple? Nah.
There is a learning curve to be experienced with Rocket League. It may sound simple, but to manage to win against any player who has played it even just a few hours, you will need to put your reflexes and quick muscle movement to the test.
Everything in Rocket League happens fast. The ball from the word “go” bounces around the walls of the arena at high velocities as you and your opponents’ cars whiz across the grass at phenomenal speeds as they boost, flip and fly across the stage of play. Controlling your car’s speed is like taming a wild horse, as is using the volatile ball and managing to give its bounces any sort of direction or the power required to reach the goal at the other end.
Scoring is an art in Rocket League to be mastered. It is not only driving into a ball and seeing what happens in this game. Well, admittedly, that is what it is when you first play it. But as you dig deeper into the game, the more hours you commit to it, the more you find out about its surprisingly convoluted physics and mechanisms. There are many skills to practice and subsequently show off if you put the time into it, such as dribbling, flying, curve shots, one-jump shots, air-dribbling, etc. I want to underline the fact that Rocket League isn’t something just anyone can play and get great at. And, when you manage to get it right, the game is incredibly — INCREDIBLY — fun. It can also become incredibly addictive, but I’ll say more about that in the 8-Bit Review.
Nonetheless, this learning curve is expertly crafted, as there are many things a player can do to get used to the game’s mechanics. Practice modes are always available, along with single-player Exhibition matches and a Season mode where you can try out all the game has to offer along with honing these skills. These single-player modes can also make for a decent single-player experience to act as a breather or a preparation for the online play, and I managed to use the Season mode to determine when I’d beaten the game on my Backloggery. Psyonix are very courteous to their li’l beginners.
Now, each match online lasts five minutes, but can last longer if the regulation match ends in a draw, and there is Overtime. On a private server, however, you can give matches flexible time-limits, like ten minutes, for example, along with having the ability to use Mutators such as gravity and ball size effects. These additions can make for some fun, but unless you are a particularly skilled player they can’t be used to full effect, and so ultimately they don’t end up being used, or enjoyed, too much. Private servers are a fantastic addition, however, because other customization options like the stage picker and match length can be very useful, and it means you can play matches against your friends, which can’t be achieved in the official servers.
Even so, the official servers are generally well run, and are what I spend most of my depressing existence losing on. There are both Casual and Competitive pools, with the Casual consisting of the aforementioned one-on-one through four-on-four game modes, but also available are DLC modes Snow Day, Rocket Labs, Hoops and Rumble, which have been kindly added to the game by Psyonix.
This Casual pool acts perfectly as a place for beginners and experts alike to have some rocket-powered fun without the pressure of Ranked play, providing game modes ranging from the bog-standard play of Standard to the wacky play of Rumble or Snow Day. Hoops, however, in all its squeaky basketball-ness, is an exception in that it requires a surprising amount to master and have fun with, putting off newcomers; this is fine, though, because newcomers can always enjoy the other modes available and experience the learning curve Rocket League provides, before being rewarded with the skills to master Hoops and get all the slam dunks their hearts desire. Anyway, Rumble is damn fun.
Regardless, the real meat of the game is held in its Competitive servers. This is where it all happens. This is where the show-offs come out their cages. I, for one, try to show off. Sometimes it goes well. Sometimes.
Now that I’m done wallowing in my self pity and listening to Korn, I can safely say that the Competitive matches can offer the best of Rocket League, and, unfortunately, the worst. When you’re playing well, flying high, Competitive is the place to be, because everyone likes you, and wants to be in your team. However, when you’re making the odd mistake and not playing PERFECTLY, it might be your time to leave. There is an unfortunate collection of “toxic” players on these servers, who can somewhat mar the Soccar fun. I know it isn’t Psyonix’s fault that these people play the game and want to leave when there is a goal scored against them, only after screaming “OMG!” and “What a save” a hundred times, but…
I mean sometimes I can be bad, but comebacks do happen! I guess people just can’t believe that they can win when they’re one goal down with MOST OF THE MATCH left. It’s stupid, because one of the things I love most about Rocket League is how quickly matches can change, along with the fact that goals are always flying in, and excitement is always at the maximum level – as games usually end with about six to eight goals being scored. Hilarious moments happen when players make ridiculous mistakes or make horrifically incompetent attempts at scoring or saving goals. When you don’t have a bratty kid as your teammate, it’s brilliant, because everyone can equally enjoy it, but when you do, well, there are two opposing reactions:
When you’re losing and you have an annoyed teammate on Rocket League, it is when you realise the world is a horrible place. However, they can’t be that bad, because why else would I have put two-hundred hours into the game. I mean, I love the chat online. It can be great fun. The Competitive servers are fantastic too in how they draw so many in, all with different targets and ambitions. It is great how so many players of so many different kinds can fight through the ranks (which are set out into Prospect, Challenger, Star and Champion tiers respectively, by the way – I’m currently at Challenger Elite, which is the highest division of the Challenger tier).
Before we close this section of the review, there is also a leveling system to set players of different experience/presumable skill level apart, which rises through as Beginner, Semi-Pro, Pro, Veteran, Expert, Master, Legend and Rocketeer – I be an Expert, boi.
The 8-Bit Review
Colourful, bombastic and sharp, Rocket League is easily one of the nicest looking games I have played. It may not be quite so boundlessly detailed as some other games of this age, but in its simplicity it is darn pretty, giving off a nice Nintendo-esque aura with its great use of colour. Each different stage shows off some wonderful landscapes, to boot.
Unfortunately, the audio is the one thing that Rocket League really doesn’t get right. It’s techno-pop and R&B remix-ridden soundtrack is far from friendly to a rock fanatic’s ears, I suppose there is a bias towards this aspect, BUT STILL. The crowd noises and atmosphere aren’t always used to full effect either, although sometimes the crowd can get going. And although the sound effects are usually on point, sometimes there can be errors in the sound when it becomes muffled.
I do like “InfinitePower!”, though, I’ll give it that. Not quite enough to rise to 6/10 in one song though, thank you very much.
I mentioned earlier that Rocket League can be “incredibly — INCREDIBLY — fun”, and boy is that true. There are so many little skills you can learn to use to make the game as fun and deep a gaming experience as possible, and that results in the best gameplay in a sports game, ever. Everything, ranging from the controls to the physics, is perfect.
There is nothing wrong with the frantic and fun gameplay of Rocket League. Even when you are a Beginner, the fun aspect erupts as you learn more and more about what is on offer. Psyonix has created a sports game that mixes racing games and football games together, offering a far more refined experience than PES 2017, and more of a brilliant goofy aspect than even World Cup 98.
Along with gameplay, multiplayer is where Rocket League really shines. If you are looking for a fun and goofy time with your mates locally then you’re in for a blast, and if you want a fantastic online experience, you’re in for even more of a blast. The aforementioned selection of servers is a Godsend, the Mutators can add to the laughter, and Competitive play is an awesome adrenaline rush from start to finish whether you’re taking it seriously or not, and if you are playing alongside a friend or not.
I appreciate that not absolutely everyone can get good at this game, but for those who give it a chance, there are many accommodating modes to practice on and many ways to climb the game’s learning curve, which by all means is not too steep. There is an overarching veil of simplicity which can bring people of all ages in, and those who want to dig deeper into the game’s mechanics have the tools to do so.
This point is a particularly subjective one. I, for one, haven’t been able to stop playing this game. However, I know people who have got bored, or couldn’t get into it too much in the first place, because it can get ‘samey’. I suppose I can sympathise with these people a little, but I really think that every game is different to the one before it, and just as exciting, while the constant stream of updates and free downloadable content provides new means for excitement on a consistent basis – along with the selection of different modes available.
Rocket League is about the most unique you can get with a game. Sure, it’s the coming together of two previously established genres in the racer and the sports simulator, but it is this coming together that is so unique, in that Psyonix is the only one to have brought us this combined monolith of ridiculous ball-bouncing fun.
My Personal Grade: 10/10
Rocket League is one of my favourites of the eighth generation, only behind Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, and is easily one of my personal favourite games of all time. It is absolutely fantastic in its pure fun: it’s innovative and addictive to the highest pedigree. It also provides a brilliant means for local and online multiplayer to act for each other side by side.
Come on, does anyone not want to play car-football?
Aggregated Score: 8.8