I am more than happy to be a PS+ subscriber these days. Despite Sony only having released one AAA title for the PS4 since its arrival into our living rooms, we have been given some quality games throughout its short life. After favourites like Rogue Legacy, Guacamelee, and Valiant Hearts it seems difficult to top these offerings. Yet in July 2015, Psyonix and Sony collaborated to bring us arguably the most entertaining free game to ever be released on the PS4.
Rocket League is the sequel to Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars. Right of the bat, the new name is far better and I welcome the change. It sucks trying to say SARPBC! The game blends soccer and agile rocket cars together which creates a joyous arcade-like experience. You play in a large fenced arena with an abnormally large soccer ball and the objective is simply to outscore your opponents with your incredibly unrealistic rocket car. You have the ability to make your awesome car jump, flip, and barrel roll to score goals in a deceptively small net, or to make epic saves that will infuriate your opponents to no end. You also have the option to defy physics and leave the confines of the stupid ground as you can drive your car up the fence to complete tricky aerial hits. Combine this with high octane rocket power that you collect from pods scattered throughout the arena and you have yourself a recipe for an incredible demolition derby soccer game. There are two camera styles you can use and both of them come in handy during certain situations. Ball Cam and free cam predictably work exactly as their names describe while always maintaining a first person visual from your cars viewpoint. Both cameras have their pros and cons but you’ll find your favourite one easily enough.
Games can be played 1v1, all the way up to the appropriately named Chaos mode 4v4. Single player is probably where you’ll want to start as there is a bit of a learning curve. It takes a few minutes to grasp the ridiculousness of what you are doing with your vehicle. After a couple games though you’re going to feel the urge to play online; this is where the fun of Rocket League really opens up the throttle and brings every great element of this game to a whole other level! While the single player bots on pro and all-star are formidable, nothing compares to the unpredictable chaos that the online rounds can bring. You are given some quick link emotes through your D-Pad to interact with your team and opponents. While you can type whatever you want into the chatpad, chances are you’ll rarely use it because everything moves so fast and I’m not just talking the cars. Menus and matchmaking are also rocket powered as you will find yourself playing game after game with fluid and seamless matchmaking and quick access to the menu. Load screens are nearly a thing of the past with this game!
After pounding out a few games with incredible pace, you’ll want to go back to the menu to check out your surprisingly large list of stats or head to the garage. Another nice thing about this game is that after every match, win or lose, you unlock a new customizable feature for your rocket car. Wheels, body, paint, decals, antennas, and rocket streams can all be customized with your unlocked items. Oh, you can also put toppers or hats on your car! Show off your personality and strike fear into the hearts of your opponents as you soar through the sky in your sombrero-branding high powered rocket car!
There are a couple negatives I have about Rocket League, one that I think will be addressed in the future. First, the stadiums feel very cookie cutter as each one currently available is identical in size and shape. The only things to change at each arena are background based; weather and time of day. While a stormy evening game will change the difficulty of a game slightly, it isn’t nearly enough to say it was a whole new experience at another stadium. It all does feel the same. Considering the previous game had crazy stadiums within it, my thought is that we will see some of that in the future, and it will be more than welcome for those who have been obsessively playing since day one. Guilty! The other issue I have is that you are given experience points to raise your level. But that’s all it does. You are strictly levelling to see what level you are and to be ranked in matchmaking. There are no other benefits to the experience system the game uses. As an RPG fan it hurts to see an experience point system that is essentially useless to your gameplay. It’s a minor gripe that is easily ignored once I’m in the stadium ready to do battle with my enemies.
Overall Rocket League is a phenomenal experience because it nails three things. It’s simple, it’s fun, and it’s highly entertaining. That’s it! That’s all that’s needed in a game like this. While I did obtain this game for free as it was one of the July PS+ games, I would have no problem purchasing this game at the listed $20 price. So gather a couple of your online friends, break out your headsets and get ready for an intense and laugh filled evening, just like the good ol’ days of couch co-op. Rocket League is a blast! (Pun absolutely intended)