Developer: Psyonix Studios Publisher: Psyonix Studios
Release Date: 11.14.17
Downloading and loading up Rocket League was quite a treat for me. I’m an exclusively Nintendo gamer, so while I had seen video clips and screen shots from the PS4 version, I had never actually sat down to play it. I was intrigued by the concept, acrobatic soccer with race cars. How would this even work?! Will it make sense?! Will it be a game that is reaching too far to be unique?! (I assumed not, because I saw the popularity of the game on PS4).
The Nintendo Port definitely seems like a pretty solid way to play the game. You can still play it on your TV, or you can take it with you…which is often the best way to play these sorts of games. The premise of the game is essentially as I said above. Soccer (or football for those of you in Europe) but with high powered cars instead of people. Drive souped up cars around a massive arena that almost defies physics and try to bounce your gigantic metal soccer ball in to your team’s goal. Perform acrobatic moves to knock the ball away from others or score some really killer goals. At a far glance, the game may seem overly simple…but I assure you, it is far from that. The concept may be simple, but the game play is incredibly complex. I have spent most of my time in practice mode because it takes quite a bit to get used to how your car maneuvers around the area. I may or may not have cursed quite loudly when I would accidentally drive straight by the ball and not even touch it.
Unlike a person who can make sharp turns and 360 degree maneuvers, your car has it’s own momentum and cannot turn like a human can. As such, you really have to have a strategy as to how to drive along the arena and work with your team mates to get the ball in the goal. And just because you hit the ball in an attempt to make it go left doesn’t mean that it necessarily will do so; since the ball is quite a bit larger than your car, the size of the surface gives it the potential to roll off in many different directions if you don’t hit it just right. For this, I do highly suggest that as a beginner you should spend a decent amount of time in practice mode so that you can learn how the car and the ball maneuvers so that you can enter a match and beat the competition.
Driving around and bumping a giant metal ball aren’t all, though. There is also a lot of aerial moves that depend greatly on physics. These are what really make the game stand out among other racing and sports games (because combining the two genres just wasn’t enough!). Pressing the B button shoots your car in to the air; you can still maneuver your car while in mid air (I know, I know, cool right?). You can make your car spin or flip that will determine how and how fast the ball will move when you hit it. There is also the option to use a boost button which, obviously, gives you a boost of speed of your car but can also boost the height and speed of your jumps. Double-tapping the jump button will help you perform a dodge which can help you play goalie for your team. The Y button puts your car in to a sort of “power slide” which can help you cross large distances of the field quickly.
Now, the real fun begins. Learn to harass your rivals! I found it quite fun to let the others on my team focus on getting the ball in to the goal while I focused more on ramming opponents so that they were thrown out of position and unable to block our moves. If you use your boost just right, you can cause a crash bad enough to destroy your victim and place them MIA for a few seconds. This greatly helps improve your team’s ability to score. Do this enough and you will surely win the game! Combine all of the different types of moves and you will see how seamless, yet complex, the game really is.
If you start off Rocket League as a beginner, which I surely did, don’t fret. It can seem overwhelming at first (because it is), but the more you play the more addicted you will become. A benefit (and disadvantage maybe?) to the game is that it provides cross-platform play, which means that you can be playing against people on Xbox One and PC who have been playing the game much longer than you have. (Sony has declined to include PS4 in the cross-platform play, which sucks). It’s okay, though. Some of these players may be veterans while you are a n00b, but you will quickly climb the ranks the more you practice. Just like in any sport, right?
While the full functionality of online features for the Nintendo Switch won’t be available until next year, don’t worry. You can create a party with people on your friends list simply by pushing X on the main menu and you’re good to go. There’s no in-game voice chat but maybe in the future this will be incorporated.
The graphics in the game were superb and crisp, even with the details as small as the smoke billowing out from behind the cars. I was very happy with the graphics capabilities of this game. The game play felt flawless, too. I didn’t experience any lag in the many hours I spent playing this game, which considering you can play with others via the internet is quite an accomplishment. The sound effects felt appropriate to the game; I didn’t notice any that felt poorly timed or unmatched to the game.
The main appeal, obviously, of Rocket League is in its competitive play. The casual mode has 4v4, 3v3, 2v2, and 1v1 options. You can also play different modes such as Dropshot, Rumble, Snow Day, Hoops and experimental “Rocket Labs” if you want a change of pace in your game play. And, obviously, Switch owners get customer Mario, Luigi, and Metroid themed cars that will set you apart in the game play. This game is definitely unique and special and, since there is no “beating” the game, will provide entertainment for months or even years to come.
After substantial game play, winning some matches and losing most of them, Rocket League is a definite MUST to your Switch Library. While the Switch graphics aren’t as strong as, say, an Xbox One, the game doesn’t suffer at all. This may be one of my favorite new-for-me titles of the year.
Docked – Great
Handheld – Great
Joy con detached – Good
Joy con controller – Great
Pro Controller – Great