Rocket League PS4 Review
The sequel to the PSN sleeper hit Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars raced onto PlayStation Network (free for PS Plus users) in the month of July, and is being met with great enthusiasm in the PlayStation and PC communities. Rocket League is based on the simple premise of a large ball, a soccer field, and of course rocket powered battle cars. The aim of both teams is to score as many goals in quick and addicting 5 minute matches that go into a golden-goal overtime if the scores are tied at fulltime. The game is mostly focused on multiplayer action with the single player seasons mode getting the shaft as it turns out to be a glorified tutorial (besides the tutorial actually in the game) for players to hop into the real madness in the multiplayer portion.
In terms of raw gameplay, Rocket League succeeds with flying colors as the controls are tight and responsive, and more importantly the ‘follow ball’ camera is executed perfectly with a dash of your camera as the ball flashes by high above you, or the menacing chase down angle as you try to catch up to a ball approaching your net. Players have the ability to double-jump and use a nitro boost, gained by driving over pick up stations scattered across the map. Each nitro pick up gives the player 12 overall boost, whereas 6 special pickups scattered across the arena earn the player a full 100 boost, which also gives them enough fuel to double jump and fly across the entire stadium, a move used as a last ditch effort to stop break away goals.
The single player Season mode is bogged down by poor opposition AI and a lack of help from supporting AI. The player is able to choose the number of fixtures in a season as well as his 2 teammates who have pre-set names and one of the 10 available vehicles. Developer Psyonix could have shaken things up a bit with a multiplayer season mode that would not become repetitive as quickly as facing the same AI over and over again winning 11-2. The Season mode does come packed with a cool statistics table though, for players to analyze their playstyles and compare themselves to the other teams.
The multiplayer is where Rocket League comes into its own. Players can choose between social 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, or the chaotic 4v4 or they can play in the additive ranked playlists that sadly don’t offer 4v4’s or the ability to play 3v3 with a full team of friends. Games are frantic and fast paced as higher skilled players pull off insane passes, ball control, and of course long range goals. Sadly the servers were marred at launch, going down for maintenance for extended periods of time. Nevertheless when it worked, Rocket League was gameplay perfection in a genre that we will unsurprisingly see more of in the future thanks to its booming success with active player populations heading into the hundreds of thousands.
Other features include a decent customization suite where the player can choose one of the handful of vehicles available at launch, with more to come soon, and a host of different nitro boost effects and a topper attached to the vehicle’s antenna. The issue in customization comes when players on red team can choose yellow/orange/red variants and players on blue team can choose purple/blue/lime variants. With a large decal slapped onto your ride, I have seen players on “blue” team that are half yellow and half lime green, which causes mass panic and confusion when in the heat of the moment trying to figure out who’s on what team and where to clear the ball.
In terms of the audio and video, the game looks beautiful with each blade of grass reacting to your tires or the explosion of the ball when a goal is scored. Oddly, the game also has a soundtrack but deservedly so as the tunes in the menu and in-game pump you up for the madness that is to ensue. On the field tactics consist of most online players trying to cross the ball in as it wraps around the bowl-like stadium and into the path of teammates for a shot on goal. It is especially rewarding when you can time a shot perfectly for it to hit the right angle of your vehicle and even more rewarding to kick-flip backwards and save such a shot. Rocket League is packed with the proverbial “Battlefield moments” as players slip and slide while trying to save a rocket shot from 30 yards or fly gracefully into the air to deflect the ball into the path of teammates.
At its core Rocket League is gameplay perfected and with a suite of multiplayer options, the game will see life for many months to come. Additional downloadable content in the form of tracks, more cars, or even the fan requested boat mode have me excited to jump back in and rank up my skill rating. Detailed leaderboards and a host of customization options also keep players hooked to what is one of the best games of the year.