Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: November 14, 2017
Developed by Psyonix, Rocket League is actually a sequel to a fairly unknown yet similar game called Supersonic_Acrobatic_Rocket-Powered_Battle-Cars (SARPBC for short), for the PS3. Rocket League can be described in a number of ways, but I look at it as a cross between demolition derby, Mario Kart, and soccer (aka football) which is not a bad thing at all. In fact, the meshing of various gameplay elements is what makes Rocket League so much fun and chaotic all at the same time. You play in a super dome arena using rocket powered vehicles to guide a giant soccer ball into the opposing team’s goal. Sounds simple enough, right? Well it’s not quite that simple as you will need to not only outwit the opposing team but also fight for power and position as you do insane aerial stunts, crash into each other, all while trying to keep the other team from scoring as you try to score at the same time. You can compete in 1 v 1, 2 v 2, 3 v 3, or 4 v 4 matches and I can tell you that it gets absolutely nuts in there! The concept of the game is simple to grasp, but I would advise everyone to start by going through the tutorial as it will give you the necessary tips and tricks you will need to keep up with the fast-paced gameplay that you will experience in an actual game.
There are three main game modes to choose from – Play Online, Season Mode, and Exhibition. I started my journey by trying out an exhibition match where I quickly found out that controlling your car is not as easy as the gameplay demos made it look, especially when up to 7 other cars are constantly bumping into you. This is not a knock against the controls within the game, but it is a testament to the fact that the game is challenging and is not a walk in the park. The gameplay is extremely fast paced and hard to keep up with at first. I found myself using almost every trick I learned in the tutorial just to keep up.
Once I got through a couple of games I found myself actually getting good at the game and making quite a few goals of my own; against the AI mind you. There is a rather steep learning curve, but the developers did a good job of balancing the challenge of learning the gameplay mechanics with the ease of jumping in and learning as you go through trial and error. The Season Mode allows you to create a team and test your skills against the AI in a battle royale to see which team will make it to the playoffs and win the championship. Not only can you create the team name but you can select which types of vehicles you will have on your team as well. This gives this mode some personality as it makes you feel that the team you have created is really yours. I found the games in Season Mode to be easy at first but they definitely got much more challenging as the season progressed.
Something that impressed me about Rocket League is the level of customization. You can choose from a variety of different vehicle types, with some needing to be unlocked by completing challenges in the game. Nintendo actually released a nice Mario/Luigi variant for the Switch version of the game which looks incredible. You can choose from hundreds of colors for your vehicle, several decals, slick wheels with killer rims, flags to represent your favorite country, and different types of boosters for your booster powered Rocket-Car. There are even hats that you can unlock to put on your car – Yes, hats to wear while you pull of those “hat tricks.” Why hats you say? I have no idea, but it’s fun so let’s roll with it. There is said to be more than 10 billion possible Battle-Car combinations and while I didn’t have the time to count them all to see if this is true, I can tell you there is a great deal of possibilities.
So let’s talk about the online shall we. This is the only problem I have with this version of the game so far. The servers on day one handled the influx of Switch users nicely compared to the games launch day on PS4. My main gripe is with the rubber banding that I experienced repeatedly. This wasn’t due to my connection as it was tested in multiple locations, all of which have fast internet speeds. This is something I am sure will be addressed with a future update, so I won’t dwell on it heavily.
However when I am able to get into a match without lagging or rubber banding, I can tell you that I had the most fun I have had in an online match of any kind in a very long time! I actually found my heart pounding as we were down by two and trying to prevent the other team from scoring again. There were times when I was actually pounding my chest and screaming like a mad man when I made a goal that tied or won us the game!