Rocket League

$19.35

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Description

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Complete Review & Description

Back in 2008, a small indie game with the absurdly syllable-abusing name of Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars arrived on the PS3. It was well received, but due to a few gameplay bugs and the simple fact that the PSN marketplace didn’t have the audience that it carries today, it became a bit of a niche game that a only handful of people knew about.

Fast forward to 2015, the same development team took the exact same concept to create a new game called Rocket League, which burst onto the PS4 (and PC) and quickly took the world by storm. Partly thanks to it being a free title for PlayStation Plus members which helped get the word out, but also thanks to an accessible and equally addictive formula. Now Xbox One owners can see what all the fuss is about, with Rocket League finally available on Microsoft’s console.

So what is Rocket League? Imagine taking rocket powered vehicles and a massive soccer ball, and then chucking them all into an arena with two goals. It’s part-racer, part-football, and all out maniacal fun. Players must drive their cars, with the option of turbo boosting or jumping, and attempt to get the ball into their opponent’s goal, while of course also defending their own. Each match is time based, with two teams (a blue and an orange team) of anywhere between one and four vehicles per side.

The arena is also enclosed, so the ball can never go out of play and the only respite to the action is when a goal is scored. The enclosed arena also means that players can drive up walls, even across the ceiling, or use these walls to bounce the ball off like a giant game of pinball.

It’s fun and ridiculously simple, with just the trigger for accelerating and then two buttons to either jump or activate a limited amount of boost. But while it’s accessible, Rocket League has plenty of scope for anyone who wants to perfect the finer controls of the game. It’s true that anyone can hop into a match and score a goal just by driving around, but with enough practice you’ll be able to levitate to connect with balls high in the air for an extra advantage, or master the controls to score goals from any angle.

Because of the mod-inspired nature of the game, something which the developers and community have fostered, Rocket League has had a number of updates since launch, some of which have even introduced new game mechanics. For example “Snow Day” swapped the ball for a flat, heavy hockey puck which was a genius way to mix up the gameplay without compromising the formula. Other updates have included new arenas,and even the Back to the Future pack which, gave players the choice of a Delorean as a car – complete with hover mode when boosting.

They were interesting and quirky enough to justify paying for them. Sadly however, the latest set of updates titled Rocket Labs, was a disappointing change for the worst. It includes three new arenas, and rather than just adding in new cosmetics, they completely change the shape of a regular pitch. One is doughnut shaped where the two goals sit next to each other with a shared back door; another has two entrances to each goal; and the third features tiered sides.

…vehicles that you can colour and decorate with an assortment of aerials… and hats. Because everyone loves hats.

In my opinion, all three of these new maps affected the gameplay in a negative way. While they’re homages to the original 2008 game, there was something beautifully simple about a traditional rectangular arena that worked. With Rocket Labs, one map introduces what are essentially dead-areas where the ball can get stuck on a ledge which slows down the pace of the game, meanwhile the circular doughnut shaped one is just a frantic, confusing mess. It’s great to have updates to what is essentially a very simple game, but Rocket Labs is already out of my rotation.

While everyone’s vehicles are functionally the same to ensure a level playing field, players can still aesthetically customise their cars. As mentioned with the Back to the Future pack, there are different car models to pick from, each of which you can colour (within your team colours) and decorate with an assortment of aerials… and hats. Because everyone loves hats. The Xbox One version has a few Microsoft exclusives, such as Gears of War- and Halo-themed vehicles, but as mentioned it’s all cosmetic, more for bragging rights than adding anything to the actual gameplay.

Surprisingly though, the Microsoft Xbox One version doesn’t support cross-platform play with Microsoft Windows – while the PlayStation 4 version does. Apparently this is due to Microsoft’s security policies, but the only real downside to this is that you can’t challenge your friends who play Rocket League on other platforms.

You don’t need to like sports, or even driving games to enjoy Rocket League. It’s the perfect pick up and play game when you need to kill twenty minutes with a couple of matches, or you can spend hours playing a single mode as every match offers an unique experience depending on who’s playing.

Here are some pointers which might help get you ahead on the playing field:

Don’t feel you need to chase the ball around like a deranged kitten chasing a ball of yarn. Think about positioning, if all your team-mates are attacking, it’s often a good idea to stay back and defend and look for a good opportunity to join the action.
When a match starts, don’t just crush the accelerator. Those who spawn in the goal areas should try to stay in a defensive position, ready to pounce on a free ball or simply to prevent an easy goal from the kick-off.
For those who are closest to the ball at kick-off, you should try to make contact with the ball straight after the countdown. Try experimenting with jumps as a well timed ‘double jump’ can give you a burst of speed on top of a boost.
Soaring through the air to get to high balls looks cool, but it also takes a lot of skill and can often go horribly, horribly wrong. The best Pro players know when to keep their wheels on the ground.
Finally, don’t be that guy who watches every single action replay in it’s entirety. Sure, there might be the occasional goal that just HAS to be re-lived, but for most of them, be cool and skip it. Not everyone loves you as much as you might love yourself.

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