It has been nearly three months since Rocket League came out, and during that time, it has been one of the most popular games played. Who wouldn’t want to play football with little rocket-powered battle cars? The idea for smashing a six-foot ball around a huge football arena is not a new one, though. A previous game, by the same developers, was released in 2009 for the PlayStation 3, with one of the longest names for a video game ever. Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars was a minor success, with around 2 million downloads. However, the resounding growth of Rocket League (much better name) meant that by the end of July, it had been downloaded over 5 million times.
The premise of the game, as it is with football, is to score more goals than your opponent. That, however, is easier said than done. Imagine Top Gear’s car football matches. You could be on the ball, and then suddenly out of nowhere, someone side-slams you. It happens… a lot. The ball may be six feet tall, but it feels like it has been filled with helium. You could tap the ball, and it travels no further than the length of your car, or you could belt it, and it will bounce off the side of an opponent and back to where it started. Playing the game made me reminisce in the times when I played footy in the street, involved in 2v2 matches.
The thing that makes Rocket League such a good game is the learning curve along which you must rise to succeed. The early matches are usually and “everybody flails around” scenario, where you can see if you manage to get a single hit on the ball (I am guilty of this). But as you progress through the game, your skill level increases and that’s when the game gets interesting. The way the game works means that you are matched against people of the same rank. The higher the rank, the more experienced your opponent is likely to be. It can get quite hard, with some goals and shots just leaving you sitting there, speechless.
The fancy ball work is all done by the players, but the game objective is simple. Just score goals. You have five minutes to do so, and if it ends in a draw, Overtime occurs, which is basically Golden Goal. First team to score, wins. It takes football back to its basics (whilst adding in cars, obviously), and allows you, ultimately, to have fun while messing around. For some it is just the playing that is appealing, but for others, tactics and positions are involved, and it can turn into a real football match, along with the dirtier tactics, such blowing up other cars or bashing them out of the way. To put it bluntly, Rocket League is football with cars and no rules. If that does not sound tempting, then I do not know what is.
The games are not long. As I mentioned earlier, they are only five minutes. By itself, that does not seem like a lot of time, but a lot of five minute sections together can equate to hours upon hours of playing because you simply cannot say “enough is enough.” Playing with friends also takes a bit of time. As with anything, you enjoy it more when doing it with friends. This is no exception. I have sometimes lost track of time playing this game with friends, with some sessions going on into the early morning, whether it be 1v1 or playing against others in a ranked match. It does come into its own as a multiplayer game when playing with friends. It is something that is lacking with console games, with the majority being first-person-shooters and role-playing-games.
Despite all of this, Rocket League is not a perfect game. There are always problems with the launches of games. The main issue was with connection. The server lag was sometimes so obvious that the ball would seem to be in one place, but would actually be in another. This has, however, been resolved… to a certain extent. The lag isn’t as harsh as previously, and doesn’t occur as often. It seems to be a more solid connection. This fix came in a recent patch, which also introduced the first of three moderately-priced DLC packs. It introduced two more cars, new décor and new decals. Psyonix have taken things in their stride by adding items that seem to joke about problems that the game had upon launch. At least they have a sense of humour.
Rocket Leagues success may be down to the fact that it is a brilliant game, but it may be more to do with it showing up on PlayStation Plus, PlayStation’s subscription service. Rocket League was one of the free games offered to subscribers each month. With the sheer number of subscribers, it is no wonder that this game became such a success. It does seem that many, including myself, picked up the game through PlayStation Plus, and I am so glad that I did. I would definitely recommend this game to play. It is probably the most fun you will have in a football game. For those who do not have it, there is a price, but it is worth every penny.