To say I am addicted to Rocket League would probably be an understatement. The word ‘obsessed’ might describe my current state more accurately. Different from my usual go-to action/adventure games, Rocket League has introduced me to a new world where cars are star athletes and five minutes feels like the blink of an eye.
Let me explain that last statement … Rocket League is essentially a soccer game where cars replace players and you compete in intense five-minute battles against other online challengers or AI cars. Either way, it’s the complexity of the game which, to fresh eyes, looks so simple and almost child-like, that draws you in and holds you hostage time and time again as you battle for that oversized ball and watch anxiously as the clock counts downs the seconds.
Rocket League finally launched on PlayStation 4 and PC in July after eight months in Beta testing. Much to the delight of this reviewer and more than likely the majority of the PlayStation plus subscription base, the game debuted on the PlayStation Network (PSN) as a free game for Plus members.
For me, picking up the fundamentals of this game was fairly straightforward. Having not played the original – Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-powered Battle-cars (what a mouthful!) – and missing out on the extensive Beta testing for Rocket League, I wasn’t familiar with the mechanics of the game and so I decided to dip my toes in first by completing some of the tutorials. I quickly picked up the basics, including which camera view to use and how to drift and boost. Confident I was ready for anything the legions of players could throw at me, I signed up for a three versus three online game. While I did have the fundamentals in place, it was during an embarrassing six-nil loss that I not only realised I had a lot more work to do, but also that the game I had previously thought to be entertaining – was turning into something truly magical. Right before my eyes I watched as my heartless opponent launched up the wall of the stadium and soared over my head through the air where he intercepted the ball, changing its trajectory, propelling it past the ill-prepared goalie and into the goals. Needless to say it left me speechless and determined to fine-tune my skills so that I could one day be that that magnificent soaring car in the air.
I began experimenting with flying, driving up walls and jumping off, determined to replicate the finesse and grace I had witnessed. Boosting at just the right time, demolishing other players’ cars and eventually using the quick chat option to direct my team on my intended play.
Which brings me to my next point – another positive to this game is the social interaction it creates. Through Rocket League I have built a solid group of PSN contacts, all playing on the Oceanic Server. I have also linked my Facebook to my PS4 and uploaded videos of huge aerial goals, which has allowed me to extend my experience to my social media channels. And finally, I even took part in a knockout tournament organised by an eager group of Australian players. In short, Rocket League has encouraged me to explore the many core features the PlayStation 4 offers, along with opening me up to a type of gaming I previously ignored … online competitive gaming.
To enjoy Rocket League requires a steep learning curve but the end result is worth it. It boasts a range of play modes, including one versus one, all the way through to four-on-four chaos, and overall is a game that is easy to learn but incredibly hard to master. Although the game is no longer available to download for free it is well worth the small price tag. The same can be said for the first downloadable content, which features two new battle-cars and a range of new boosts, decals, wheels and paint jobs.
An incredibly addictive game, whether you play with friends or not, you’ll love customising the look of your battle-car; the rush of scoring a hard-earned goal; making a monster save or – for the more adventurous – risking everything by boosting skyward in an attempt to pluck the ball from the air and propel it home for a sweet aerial goal.
This game is excellently crafted in its simplicity and ability to keep you entertained time and time again, which sees you coming back for more. The only negatives are the frustrating antics of AI cars, often getting in the way of your shots – or worse – hitting the ball back into your unmanned defensive half. Despite some initial server issues when it came to connecting players and lag during games when it launched, eager players remained patient and once the volume of players eased, in turn, so did the issues. A polished, fun game with tons of features, truly a magnificent accomplishment and for me, a fortunate find.