A while ago, there was an episode of Top Gear which had James May and Richard Hammond face off in a game of football, while driving Toyota Aygos and Volkswagen Foxes respectively. It was fast, frantic and looked incredibly fun. I can’t say for certain, but this episode may well have inspired Psyonix to create a rocket-powered version of the sport in the form of Rocket League. And bloody hell, is it ever fun.
I’m a big fan of football games as it is, but as you can imagine, there’s not a whole lot you can add into it. So when a game comes along that rethinks the idea with rocket cars, there was no question about whether or not I had to buy it. It’s certainly not let me down either, there’s so much to enjoy in this game, even though it is essentially “be a pro” mode in a football game. You basically control one car in either a one-on-one match, or as part of a team to beat other players in the game, which gives it a really fun dynamic because you really need to hope you’re on a team of decent players or you’ll certainly be on the losing side.
It offers you a few modes to play in, exhibition, season and training, with the option to play on your own, with local multiplayer, or online multiplayer. Playing it solo is alright, but the AI isn’t always the most intelligent, making team play somewhat irritating if you have your teammates driving into you and clearing your shots off your opponent’s goal line. Playing with or against other people is where the fun is. You don’t really have a set position on the pitch, which is pretty familiar to those of us who have played five-a-side, so you can set yourself up as a goalhanger and try to knock in everything that comes your way, or you can be the only responsible member on your team and defend. Either way, you’ll get points for shots on target, scoring and saving opponents shots, so you’ll be able to grab the man of the match award wherever you play.
The mechanics make for some fun playing as well. As the name would suggest, your car has rockets in it and there are plenty of pickups of rocket fuel littered around the pitch so you have plenty of opportunity to speed around to try and beat your opponents to the ball. There’s also different abilities your car has, including jumping around to get some sweet volleys in on goal, and powersliding, which I still haven’t gotten the hang of yet. All of it combines to make some seriously addictive gameplay that will make it really difficult to put down.
Another positive is the amount of customisation you’re given. It actually surprised me that, after winning a match, I received an item that I could attach to my vehicle. I didn’t realise I wanted a transit van with a pirate hat until I started playing this game. You get all sorts of different unlockables, ranging from different vehicles to different decals for your cars to really make it seem like you’re not just another car, but an individual! It really does give the game a much more unique feel, and you can change it up at will, so you can be a pirate in one match, to being a king in the next.
The only thing that I thought was lacking was that, although you do have many different pitches and people to play against, at the end of the day, you’re just driving into a ball repeatedly, which is just like FIFA or Pro Evo, and is exactly why I get bored of those games so quickly. It is, so far, significantly more fun than those games have been in a long while, but I’m sure I’m going to tire of it soon enough.
Would I recommend Rocket League? Definitely. Even if you don’t like football, it’s so much fun that you’ll love playing a season with your friends, or even with random people online. It’s super addictive, and I’ve barely been able to tear myself away from it. It’s incredibly rewarding blocking a certain goal, more so than even scoring, and the enjoyment of it has so far, not worn off. It’s a game I imagine I’ll be putting a good few more hours into, and I really suggest you do too.