Psyonix Studios created a cult hit in 2009 with their mouthful of a title Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, a game that still has a very active online community to this day. Now they are back on Playstation 4 with a sequel to the game and one that is easier to say: Rocket League. Both games revolve around playing football (or soccer if you are from across the pond) in rocket powered RC cars. That is about it really. It's such a simple and crazy idea but is one that has been praised for its highly addictive fun factor. But does this one manage the reach the same enjoyment levels of SARPBC?
The short answer is yes. From the very first match that you enter you will be enjoying yourself. Having the core gameplay already there from SARPBC, the team has just tweaked everything to make the matches even better than they already were. While the game is easy to pick up and play, there is a short and simple set of tutorials that teach you the three basics of the game - Goalie, Striker and Aerial. The first two are very self explanatory but the latter is a great tutorial. Learning how to play the game in the air can really give you the edge in a match. While all of the other players are battling it out on the ground waiting for the ball to drop, you can just fly in using jump and rocket boost to steal the ball in mid-air and potentially score a goal.
Each match lasts for five minutes. In this time your goal is simple; score more goals than the other team. If you are tied with your opponent at the end of the five minutes then the game will head into overtime, a sudden death where there is no time limit and the next goal wins. Five minutes might not sound long but, when you can go from being 3-0 up to 4-3 in 20 seconds, five minutes is all that you need. Teams can range from 1v1 to the Chaos mode where you get 4v4. As soon as the match starts each team boosts towards the ball, which is in the middle of the field, to start things off. This is where games can change in an instant, as you will often score a goal from the first hit and only two seconds passed on the clock. Each match is always a high octane, end-to-end battle where every second counts. The thrill that you can get is indescribable.
Rocket jump your way to victory!
Seasons mode is the single-player career in Rocket League where you and nine other teams compete for the championship over the course of several weeks, something that can be set to your preference from the menu. There isn't really too much to brag about here though, as it has the same feel of playing an exhibition match over and over. Gone are the tournaments and mini-games from SARPBC, which had you gaining stars depending on your performance and giving you new ways to play.
In contrast, online mode is the meat and potatoes of the game and where you will likely spend a lot of your time. Whether playing with and against friends in a private match or against strangers in public matches, multiplayer is highly enjoyable. You can even play cross-play against players on PC, but if this not for you then you can turn off that option from the game settings. The only gripe here is the lack of any online season mode similar to the single player offering. There is a lot of potential to be had with that, especially with a group of friends. Team TrueTrophies anyone? You can create a party from the main menu that allows you to take a group of friends into public matches with you but, like seasons, there is no option to make an official team or clan.
Seasons mode acts as the games career.
While the online is where to find the heart of the game, players will still be able to get a lot of satisfaction offline. Exhibition mode offers a good range of options, including an unfair mode that pitches you on your own against up to four bots. There are three difficulty levels for the bots - Rookie, Pro and All-Star. There is a huge spike between Rookie and Pro, though; Pro is very similar to playing the game online while on Rookie the A.I struggles to turn their car and rarely ever boosts. You can also invite your friends and family to join in the fun with you as the game includes a four player split-screen mode that allows you to play on the same team against bots, against each other and a mix of the two. If you so desire you can even play a no bot match with just you on the pitch.
There's quite an emphasis on customisation this time around. After each match, regardless of the result, you will unlock a new customisation item that can range from a new rocket trail to a pirate hat for your car to "wear". In total there are 11 cars, including the diabolical Sweet Tooth from the Twisted Metal series, with 165 customisation items ranging from decals and rocket trails to topper hats and antenna ornaments. What makes these that little bit more interesting is that each item has a statistical value attached to them. Here you can see how many kilometres you have travelled with X wheel, how many goals you have scored with X hat and so on. While this has absolutely no bearing on the game itself, it is still a cool thing to see.
Over 150 customisation options!
The one thing that can get a little annoying is the camera. You can quite often find yourself driving in circles around the ball as the camera keeps its focus on you. This is easily fixed, however, as a simple press of a button toggles a Ball Camera on and off. This is great at times, especially when the ball has been launched into the air, but it can be quite difficult to control your vehicle properly while this is on. The controls themselves are solid and simple to use, even when you have become that engrossed in the game that you have forgotten that you are even holding a controller.
The current selection of arenas is a little lacklustre with only four different maps and some alternate versions of those maps. This will be taken care of very soon, though, as the game will be receiving free map updates as time progresses. As it stands, the current launch selection includes regular looking arenas, almost identical to one another, but fans of the previous game know that there will be some very interesting maps to come.
Backflip for style
On paper the trophies look like they could be fun yet still a bit challenging, something that I mentioned when I shone the spotlight on the list. Unfortunately, they are a little lacking in difficulty as any of the ones that look like they could require a bit of skill can be done in a 1v1 match against an easy opponent, or even in a match by yourself, removing any challenge. Other than two grindy trophies, you will be looking at a very easy platinum. Some would say that this is a good thing but this is one of those games where a little challenge would have been welcomed.
SummaryEven if you are not a fan of racing or football games, there is a high chance that you will still love this. When you can be losing a game 8-0 and still be having lots of fun, that is when you know that you are on to a winner. There is just something so enjoyable about boosting at full speed into a ball. Even though there are some things that could use a little work, such as more online options and maps, this is still a title that we could recommend to anyone. The fun factor and high levels of addictiveness fully outweigh any of the small issues. If you like having fun, alone or with friends and family, then this is a game that you need to play.
- Highly addictive.
- Fantastic Multiplayer.
- Massive replay value.
- Large customisation selection.
- PC/ PS4 cross-play.
- Maps are limited and similar.
- No online league / season.
- No mini-games.
EthicsJordan played the game for over 50 hours, earning all 36 of the games trophies and the Platinum. A copy of this title was provided by the developer for the purpose of this review. He will be continuing to play this for many more months to come.
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