My childhood fantasy come true. No, I am not talking about those “films” I watched as a kid when mom and dad weren’t home. Rather, I am talking about an adult version of playing with hot wheels! Psyonix developed a game (in a very creative way may I add) that brought hot wheels to the gaming community. Technically, The Big White Angus and I first played this game at PAX East 2017, but that was just two games. The first game we owned some n00bs, but the second game we got p0wned in front of a massive audience… But, we won’t talk about that right now. Rocket League is a sports game where you “play” as a car and the objective is to score the ball by “kicking” it in the designated area. Simple enough, right? Nope! The game is much more challenging than it looks. One may even say there is more than meets the eye (movie reference). Anyway, let’s see how this game stacked up against its biggest critic yet!
Blue Ball Score: 22 out of 25 balls
C’mon Tasty! How hard can it be?! You play as a car running into a ball for Christ sakes! Well, imaginary friend, Psyonix did a remarkable job of making this game simple, yet challenging and addictive. Let’s dive into this more in-depth!
The controls, at their core, were quite simple. You had a kick button and some boosters (turbo). But, if you think using these controls just all willy nilly is going to cut it, then you better prepare to get embarrassed (see Tasty’s first gameplay video). There were several ways you could kick the ball, depending on how you kicked and the direction you kicked. For example, if you kicked with your boosters on, then the ball would go flying across the map as one would expect. You could do kicks at the weirdest, most awkward angles and you could even kick the ball in mid-air if you used your turbo to thrust your car in the air like an airplane! Unfortunately, you won’t see any of this fancy business in our gameplay videos because Tasty just isn’t that good…
As I mentioned above, this game is extremely addictive. Even though I got pooped on game in and game out at times, I was still left wanting to play more. Why? Because I was having so much fun and there was just something about it… Maybe I am sucker for pain? Who knows! Well, my girlfriend knows… and my ex-girlfriend… and my other ex… Look, that isn’t important right now. What is important is that Rocket League possessed this fun, exciting, thrilling concept to it that any gamer cannot deny. With so many different tactics and ways to manipulate your vehicle, every round in Rocket League was full of surprises; much like a Tinder hookup.
Finally, this game bundled together several different concepts, but didn’t over-complicate any of them. It offered a very simple customization system which allowed you to customize / upgrade your car(s). It wasn’t anything extremely complex like some modern-day customization systems, but it was just enough to make your car truly yours. Not to mention some of the car customizations were quite humorous. Also, it did contain a single player and multiplayer which personally surprised me. Lastly, this game contained a competitive/ranked mode. So, you can play for fun if you aren’t the best (like me) or you could take a more competitive approach if you are a die-hard hot wheel’er.
In conclusion, Rocket League’s gameplay was fantastic. Through a combination of: simple controls, unique concept and approach, single player, varying ways to play multiplayer, and ability to play for fun or competitively are the reasons it gets a perfect 5/5 balls.
The Season is extremely simple. You pick your car (as one would expect), pick the number of teams, team size, and season length, and start it up! There isn’t much else to say here. Unfortunately, Rocket League doesn’t have the online season that most games are possessing in today’s gaming World. Now, to be fair, I don’t know how much more you can really implement in Season mode with this type of game. Perhaps each AI ‘car’ could have a different skillset and you could level up/trade? I know I am stretching like a pregnant woman giving birth, but it was just about as simple as you could get.
Now, the Exhibition mode is something that I hold dear to my heart. Why? Glad you asked! I grew up with The Big White Angus smoking my tail in some 1v1 exhibitions. Whether it was the old WWF/WWE wrestling games, Madden (to this day we still do this), NBA, or Mortal Kombat, we were always testing each other’s skills to see who the better gamer was. So, although the exhibition isn’t anything flashy, it does add another aspect to the game that can be appreciated. Besides, in the event of an internet outage in your area (this is the equivalent to the end of the world), you could put your skills to the test in playing against the computer on the hardest difficulty. But, as any good gamer knows, our AI teammate always seems to be stuck on ‘Rookie’ difficulty and the other team’s AI is stuck on ‘Oh my God this is BS and unrealistic’ difficulty.
In conclusion, the single player (campaign) is extremely simple. There isn’t a whole lot you can do in this mode and it doesn’t possess the modern-day online co-op Season mode. But, between Season and Exhibition modes, these two modes do provide a nice mix and change-of-pace in Rocket League. For these reasons, I give it a 3/5 balls.
Multiplayer is what this game was born for. Made for? Developed for? I don’t know the proper verb for this sentence, but I do know about Rocket League’s online play; So, let’s drive (dive) right in!
Let’s first discuss the purpose of this multiplayer. What the hell does that even mean, Tasty? In general, gamers classify their games in one of two ways. One way is recreational/fun games. These are games where we don’t care how well we do or our performance in them; We just play them for fun. The other type of game is our competitive games. Inversely, these games are what we live and breathe by. We sink most of our time into these games, care about our performance (K/D Ratios), and get super pissed off when we lose in these games. Rocket League provides both in their multiplayer.
They offer several social and recreational playlists, including: varying team sizes for the standard ‘car soccer’, snow day (car hockey), hoops (car basketball), rumble (car soccer with superpowers), and dropshot (still don’t quite understand how this works). These game modes all play slightly differently and present their own unique challenges. Personally, I enjoyed the Rumble game mode. You received abilities that could give you an edge in the game (tornado, ability to freeze the ball, a boxing glove to Mike Tyson the ball in the goal, etc.). Typically, this was a higher scoring game mode and there was a lot more chaos. Rumble was just jam packed with excitement!
On the flip side, you also have your competitive playlists. Now, full disclosure, I did not play any of these game modes because I sucked – plain and simple. But, even within the competitive game modes, there was some variety offered. You could rank in: 1v1, 2v2, or 3v3. So, there was a game mode offered for just about any flavor of gamer. Assuming gamers are flavorful to begin with of course…
In conclusion, the multiplayer was remarkably fun. It was always challenging, exciting, and really knew how to get my gears going (see what I did there?). The sheer amount of variety offered within its playlists showed that Psyonix put a lot of thought into this game and how to make it appealing to a variety of audiences. So, I give another perfect 5/5 balls.
Just to remind everyone before I jump into the thick of things here, the purpose of this game is to be fun – not realistic. So, as you can expect, the graphics weren’t extremely realistic. The cars didn’t look like they were straight out of a Fast and Furious movie. But, the purpose of Rocket League is to bring hot wheels to the gaming world in a creative, unique, and fun way. So, that being said, I believe they accomplished this goal well. But, there were moments when the graphics would have some glitches and when things were at a distance they were unnecessarily blurry. I understand that when things are far away you want to make sure the ‘focus’ is in the right places, but I believe they took it a bit too far at times. As a special side note, the special effects were awesome. These were put on display the most when you played Rumble. For example, the icicles on the ball when it was frozen were a nice touch.
Now, on the sound. The soundtrack to the game was awesome. It wasn’t anything super fancy and there weren’t any hit songs, but I thought it maintained a fun feel to the game; Especially since majority of the songs had a techno-beat sort of feel. I could imagine myself cruising down the strip in my souped-up hot wheel (with a fez on top may I add), top down, hair slicked over, looking like a total douche-canoe. For the record, I am not saying you are a douche-canoe if you fit any of the above-listed criteria, but I am saying it is a possibility…
Alrighty then! Moving on, the sound effects were also awesome. The sound your car made when you enabled thrusters to kick the ball all the way across the field was very reminiscent. It took me back to my childhood when I used to play with the race track where the cars were magnetic and you held down a single button to make it go. You remember that toy? It had the figure 8 track. Look, I know I described it horribly, but the sound those cars made is like the ones that the cars make on Rocket League. And the noise the cars made when they hit also sounded like 2 hot wheels clashing into one another. Ahh… perfection…
In conclusion, the graphics could have been slightly better, but overall Psyonix did a remarkable job on the graphics and audio. For these reasons, I give it a 4/5 balls.
Now, I know that audience appeal is a common hot topic that I choose, but that is because I think it is extremely important for any game. If a game is going to attack a narrow audience, it needs to do what it does to perfection. If a game is going to appeal to a broader audience, it needs to be careful and not stretch itself too thin and suck at everything it attempted to do (kind of like me in my professional career).
So, on to the important s$%@! Rocket League has an extremely broad audience appeal, but it does its job to near perfection. This type of game is one in a million. You don’t find games now-a-days that can appeal to a wide variety of audiences, maintain its appeal through time, and keep those audiences entertained for more than a New York minute. Are you not entertained?!!
Rocket League appeals to children and adults of all ages. It appeals to gamers looking to have fun and gamers looking to get serious about their hot wheeling. But, above all, I think it is important to note that Rocket League has done an excellent job of withstanding the test of time. It was released in 2015 and gamers still play it regularly. There are still competitive tournaments (some quite large) and people are still craving Rocket League. They just can’t get enough of it! Sorta’ like me and poontang. Ok, fine, I’ll stop. 5/5 balls.
In conclusion, Rocket League not only had a broad audience appeal, but the game itself was developed to near perfection. To date, it has withstood the test of time and continues to be a fun, exciting, challenging, and addicting game. The controls are simple, but you need to master them to be an effective scoring machine, and the game offers a variety of modes to appeal to just about any type of gamer. And, through it all (even the bad games for ol’ Tasty), you are always having fun and smiling. For all these reasons, it gets a grand total of 22/25 balls.