Video Games are amazing! It is as simple as that, I don’t think there is an entertainment medium as diverse as games. This last month has shown exactly why that is too (June/July 2015).
I was convinced that the excellent Her Story was a clear leader for my 2015 Game of the Year. This is a game that has you sitting and watching various clips of an interview with a woman involved in a murder case. There is no real directed end point, it is up to you when you are done. It is an emotional rollercoaster with sublime acting and just really well crafted, yet brings up the argument…”Is it even a game?” – Well, yes it is, but that argument is for another time.
That was the best thing I had played in the first six months of 2015. Yet just days into the second half of the year, this amazing title which stirs so many emotions has a challenger to my choices for GotY and it couldn’t be further away from Her Story in terms of what sort of game it is.
Rocket League is Soccer meets Mario Kart Battle Mode. This is a game that shouldn’t actually work, it should be a fun for five minutes and forget sort of game, but instead it is something that should have a long and competitive life, hell the sort of game that could even become a legitimate eSport to challenge the DOTAs and Street Fighters of this world on the eSport scene.
As a basic overview of the game. you have two teams and the goal is to score in the opposition’s goal, more times than they do in yours, except rather than control men or women around a pitch, you are doing it in rocket powered cars. That’s all there is to it and it is an amazing experience from the very first moment.
You can play both online and offline, with offline offering up a season mode to keep your skills in check, as well as the usual exhibition modes and training. Online is where the fun is though, with options of 1v1, 2v2, 3v3 and 4v4 variations, with each match lasting 5 minutes.
This is the beauty of Rocket League and why it is a game that is here to stay. The process goes like this.
1. Boot the game
2. Choose to play online
3. Choose parameters for play (1v1, 2v2, etc)
4. Join game
5. Play for the most fun filled five minutes you can imagine
6. Finish and play again
7. Realise you are late for work, picking your child up from school, forgot to eat, shower, drink
8. Tell yourself you won’t do that again tomorrow
9. Do exactly the same tomorrow
You need to play this yourself to really understand just how much fun is to be had, no amount of words will accurately convey that. So stop reading for a bit and if you have a PS4 (and it is July 2015 still) go and get this from PS+ for free right now. If it is past July 2015 and you have a PS4, then buy it, it is great value for money and if you are on PC, just go and get it now.
I have asked myself what makes this such a glorious game to play and I believe it is a pretty perfect balancing act of ideas and mechanics that fit together in the most wondrous way.
First of all, the length of each match is set to five minutes and whilst it may seem short, each one feels just about right in length. You jump in, play, have a great time and by the time it is over you just want to go again. If it was longer it may start to feel like a bit of a chore to play, needing to you really think about finding the time to dedicate to just a single game. Yet any shorter and it would feel like there wasn’t enough time to really get into it. That five minutes is just a magical timeframe to allow you a quick play, or to get a ton of games under your belt.
Next up is the gameplay and whilst there are 1v1 and 2v2 options, it is 3v3 and 4v4 where the game really jumps to life. You can start to think about how you approach each game, who is better at defending, who has a knack of getting goals, who can go out and be an enforcer to demolish the other team’s cars. Yet at the same time it is just as fun with everyone just chasing the ball around with no regard to tactics.
To make this work though, the controls need to be tight and once again this is spot on. Cars control like they would in a real arcade type racer, with enjoyable physics to match. They have the traditional left and right triggers to accelerate and brake, with boost and jump on face buttons.
The jump acts as your way to ‘kick’ the ball, using it in conjunction with the analogue stick to control how you attack the ball, which can lead to some pretty spectacular goals, especially using the curved walls of the dome you are playing in.
One thing I have noticed so far, at least, is that each and every game feels different, it hasn’t yet settled into people having found a way to glitch goals and things you had that worked in a previous game, may well be countered by a different type of player in the next. It adds to the fun, knowing that a game can really go any way and that nothing is guaranteed.
I am trying to think of a decent way to wrap up this review, but instead I am just going to leave it here and go and play some more Rocket League…see you in the dome!