Rocket Cars + Soccer = Boom Boom!
There is something inherently nostalgic and inviting about Rocket League, and why wouldn’t it be? After all it’s a combination of rocket powered cars and soccer in a sweet package. The allure of glowing neon environs or the fast-paced gameplay coupled with hours of fun that can be had with friends or even AI opponents is something that was missing from most of the recent games. In a world where AAA developers with fat wads of cash are constantly screwing up with their popular titles by releasing half-cooked games, it’s good to see smaller developers coming up with much better games that are worthy of a gamer’s time. Rocket League is just that. It’s actually a sequel to a title called Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars (Whoosh!) which unlike its long name didn’t last in people’s minds for longer than a mint candy in a kid’s mouth. This time around though, the developers – Psyonix have kept the basic idea same, that is creating a physics-based game where two teams battle it out on an interesting pitch at a game of car soccer. Here you have to score goals, defend goals, rocket propels and hit the a big ball in mid-air and more using acrobatic cars. But hold on! There’s much more depth to it than it sounds.
I think it’s easy, but is it, though?
You may start playing the game thinking: “Sure, it’s just car soccer, how challenging can it be?” Well, although the aim is simple and the mechanics easy to get a hold of, but the realm of possibilities opened by the game makes you stop, wonder, rub your eyes and continue playing. The way with which the developers have managed to hide the complexity of Rocket League under the guise of easy controls is quite genius. It’s only when you accelerate in a mad rush towards the ball for the first time that you slowly realise that this is quite something. The controls are fairly straightforward, but the amount of things possible with these uncomplicated controls is a revelation.
Hey, my car flies, you know!
Chasing a ball around the field is only one of the ways to play the game. However, you’ll see that instead of always trying to chase the ball, it’s much more important to anticipate where the ball is going because more often than not, there’s always going to be someone who reaches there first. Since you’re essentially playing soccer with fast cars, you’ll need to think on your feet, or should we say: tyres. Also, when you’re driving towards a moving ball, the turning radius of your car matters in relation to its speed, which is why handbraking to slide and change the direction of your car in a split-second matters. Additionally, momentum plays a big role and you need to learn how to maintain it with the car and also learn how to somersault mid-air to land on your tyres. Whether you’re shooting the ball or trying to bump it right before someone else does, these skills are absolutely essential. Then there’s car angling which is another important factor because a well-angled shot towards the goal or an angled mid-air hit can be the difference between a goal and an incredible save, or “Epic Save” as it’s called in the game. These are just a couple of the things that show the amount of depth in Rocket League.
Of AI, game modes and more…
As you progress through the game, you will see yourself getting better at handling cars the way you’re supposed to, or even passing the ball to your teammates. Your actions become more fluid and precise as well and it is this noticeable improvement in your gameplay that will make you play even more of Rocket League. As far as the game modes are concerned, Rocket League keeps it simple by letting you select from online ranked matches, with up to four players in each team or even a one-on-one battle. Then you have the ability to try out any of the modes against bots in a quick game, or even Rocket League seasons that can be from 9 to 36 game weeks long. We suggest playing with the bots first to get a good grip of the game mechanics and then jumping into the amazing online matches. After a couple of matches, you’ll feel that the AI is really easy to beat and we must say that even at their highest difficulty level they fall a bit short. But this void is immediately filled by online matches.
Online matches rock!
Online match-making is fairly simple as well and you can select which sort of match you’d like to join in terms of the number of players in each team and also select the region. Once that’s done, the matchmaker takes a few seconds and spawns your car in a match. What we liked with the Rocket League’s online matches is that we could always see more than 100K players available online at any given point in time which is why we never had to wait to get into a match. This also points to the fact that the game is grabbing some serious attention the world over and is quite popular for a new title.
Rocket League is bright, bling and all shades of neon when it comes to graphics which is actually apt for a game like this, especially because of its fast-paced gameplay. The cars look brilliant and the ability to customise them in terms of the body, paint job, decals, wheels, accessories and more is a welcome addition. All of the customisation unlocks when you play and improve your game level. Even the in-game camera customisation is of serious help. Then there are the stadiums which look breath-taking and have rounded edges specifically designed so that you can even drive your car on the stadium walls and surprise shoot to score or pull off crazy acrobatic kicks. The blades of grass on the field are coloured according to the team and they’re really amazing to look at as they sway continuously. Score a goal and the ball explodes making all the cars near the post fly off in a spectacular fashion while the stadium erupts in applause which makes it all the more engaging.
It is after a long time that we got to experience a game that is a balanced mixture of fine gameplay, genuine skill, luck and pure unadulterated fun. While playing Rocket League, there were times when we’d shout out in joy over an incredible shot or a save, and then there were moments that made us go “Oops!”. The game rewards you with points for feats such as aerial hits, difficult saves, playmaking skills and more, which adds a sense of personal achievement as well. Rocket League is a gem of a game which invokes emotion and is burgeoning with a lot of potential when it comes to competitive gaming. It’s one of the titles that should get a really good e-sport treatment. This can already be witnessed as gamers are tuning in to watch matches being played between really good players of the game. This is one such title that easily makes the ranks of the best games released in 2015 and you, your friends, and even your grandma should definitely grab a copy because once you power on that rocket-powered car, it’ll be hard for you to pull the brakes.
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Siddhant "BallisticAnt" Sharma
Often referred to as our lord and savior (forgive us Gabe), this tall lad is known for his wide unblinking gaze while playing Quake III with streaming eyes. And when he isn't pounding people by rockets, you can find him jumping around in Super Meat Boy. He is the elusive Ant and he isn't afraid of boots. Mind you!