I’ve never enjoyed sports. Growing up, I, at one point or another, played just about all of them: football, golf, basketball, baseball, and soccer. The only one I ever stuck with was soccer and that didn’t even last into my teens. I’ve never even really enjoyed watching the games on TV. I watch the Superbowl, because it’s the Superbowl, but that’s about it. I’ve been to a few baseball games which were a lot of fun, but that had more to do with the experience of being at the ballpark rather than the game. My point is, I’m not a sports person. Never have been. After playing Rocket League, I think I see why people like sports.
Sports games have never interested me. I’ve tried a ton of them, but they’ve just never clicked. When I saw that one of the free games for July with PS Plus was a soccer-like game, I almost didn’t download it. I’m also not a huge fan of driving games, so the idea of a soccer game with cars sounded pretty unappealing to me. The only things that drew me in were the fact that the cars had rockets, and it was free. I started it up and figured I’d just play for one match. I think I played between six or seven matches that first night.
Aerial is where it’s at.
When I first started playing, the controls were pretty tough to get a handle on. Part of that was my fault for not doing the tutorial and just jumping into a match. You have your basic accelerate and brake/reverse, but there is also boost, jump/double jump, handbrake, and a lock-on for the ball. Starting off, I was just speeding around trying to make contact with the ball (which by the way is giant and metal). After a while, I started getting the hang of it. Everything in Rocket League is physics based. It all relies on getting your car turned just the right way in order to knock it into the goal. This is difficult to do by just driving around, but things get interesting once you start going aerial. You still have complete control over your car when it’s in the air, and you are still able to use your rockets to fly even further. When your car is hurling through the air, flipping around, and smashing into the ball mid-air, that’s when the game is at its best.
Because you are playing as cars, there are some inherent quirks that pop-up. Many times, I narrowly missed the ball and was suddenly hurtling in the wrong direction. It takes precious seconds to get turned around and going the right way again. The turn radius can also cause some difficulty, but the handbrake pretty much solves this. These things aren’t flaws of the game by any means through, they’re just the mechanics the player has been given to work with. Missing the ball is frustrating, but it comes down to a miscalculation on the player’s part. This high risk / high gain mechanic causes a lot of back and forth in the matches and really builds the tensions. I found myself really getting into the matches in a way I had seen sports fans do. This is a sport I could get into and watch. It’s fast, crazy, and fun. It also helps that the ball explodes when someone scores a goal.
This is exactly how goals should look.
The one big negative for the release of this game is the online issues. Psyonix (the developer of the game) has issued a statement that they are working to resolve the issues and by all accounts, matchmaking is getting better. During my time with the game, I only played against bots. Playing this game online seems like a fun prospect, and I hope to try it out soon. Hopefully their issues will be resolved quickly.
I was not expecting much from a free sports themed game, but Rocket League surprised me. Great games make us question what we thought we had figured out about our likes and dislikes. I thought for sure I was not into sports, but after playing this, I get what makes them fun. I might even watch a soccer match after this. We’ll see. Rocket League is available for PC and PS4. It’s free this month with PS Plus.
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