This game was laboriously difficult to review. My review might seem very sporadic in how it’s graded, but I’ll do my best to explain everything. I’d like to preface this review, though the review itself may sound harsh, with the fact that I thoroughly enjoy this game. With that said, I think this game is a beautiful fucking disaster. Also, don’t come to me and say shit like ‘this game wasn’t designed to have the elements on which you graded it’. SHUT THE FUCK UP. Hold your games to higher standards than that. I’m meticulous, I’m honest, I praise, and I critique. Sometimes I rip it to fucking shreds, and you’ll see a little bit of everything reading through this review.
What’s the lifespan? [How many times did I step away from the game and come back to play that game again instead of a different one?]
This game is by no means addictive to me. If anything, it’s a comfort-food game. Don’t know what to play? Eh, let’s just throw on some Rocket League. Some of you reading this review may know that I stream on Twitch, and this is almost never the first game that I play, and I rarely play it for more than 45 minutes at a time. Unless I have friends that play it, and they ask me to play it with them, I usually just leave it be in my library. WITH THAT SAID, this game is a very understanding and tender lover. I may leave it for a time, but I’ll come back to it before going to a different and arguably better title…then find myself scraping across the ground to come back to Rocket League to dress my wounds.
I feel that anyone, once he/she gets his/her fill (~100-200 hours, unless they are very gifted at the game), will quickly think that they have experienced everything that Rocket League has to offer. It’s because they HAVE experienced everything the game has to offer. It’s a side-dish of a game if anything. I very much feel that unless huge changes are made or added to the game, it will die with a whimper in less than 2 years.
How long did I play the game in total at the time of making this review?
Total Hours Played – Score: 80/80
I currently have 306 hours clocked into Rocket League. I thoroughly enjoyed all of them, and I’ll probably get at least another 100 hours out of the game before I decide that I’m going to set it down for longer than 2 weeks. Like I said, comfort-food.
Hours Per Session – Score: 5/20
Except for the first month, I seldomly played this game longer than 45 minutes at a time. I never played any amount of this game and thought ‘well, I got my gaming fix for the day’. If anything, I got rid of my Rocket League craving for the day and switched to something that was a bit more substantial…like nearly every other popular game in existence. This score is based on how much a game curbs my appetite for all games instead of just its vain self.
How much content is there? Did it feel like a complete, undivided experience? Did it have depth? [Hours of playtime:things to do and ways to do them, etc.]
The amount of things to do is laughable. This game is sparse. It’s so horrendously bad in terms of volume of content, it’s what causes my lack of consistent playtime. What it does, it does exceedingly well, better than any other game of it’s type. However, there is one mode; others seem to be temporary and based on seasonal things like the Snow-Day playlist. Psyonix, add things to the fucking game and make it permanent.
You effectively have one map with different skins that all operate the same way. Oh, I apologize, there’s that one Mad Max flavored map that made the edges of the field beveled and they clicked to resize it. Just look up SARPBC, the spiritual predecessor to Rocket League and check out the variety of maps in that game. Then, ask yourself…why aren’t those maps in Rocket League? I’ll tell you.
I can’t prove it, but I have a very strong tinfoil-hat theory that this game was made to be an easy-access E-Sport, and Sony believed that they could make money on that fact in the long run. Sony made this game free on PS+ for the first month of its release to get as many people into this emerging E-Sport as possible. Rocket League is a game that anyone could watch it and understand what’s happening. Why? There’s no fucking depth. The Objective: Score points. That’s it. There’s nothing else that you could do to make the game simpler than that other than dumbing it down even more to a ‘let’s see who has the prettiest flight pattern’.
Don’t even talk about Mutator Mashup, or I’ll dock even more points off the final score. Mutators are so shit and so basic, they shouldn’t even be in the game. It’s like Psyonix was trolling or putting in sliders as an excuse for adding depth and content when all Mutators do is make the game hilarious or really fucking annoying.
How engaged did I become? How much of an impact did it have on me?
I’m almost always thoroughly engaged and invested into the game when I’m playing it. In terms of impact, I will remember it forever much like Super Mario, or Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies, or Crazy Taxi, or Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past. This game is far from forgettable, but on the same token, it’s far from memorable. Let me explain.
Every single match is the exact same as the one previous. At first, everything seems new and player movements seem too calculated for you to comprehend…then you get 50-100 hours in and you see the patterns, what you need to search for to have a good counter, player rotation, boost-stealing, setups, aerials…everything quickly becomes very automatic. If this game was wiped off the planet in 2 years (when I think it will die if it won’t change any), people won’t remember much more than just the premise, which is sad to me.
How well were things explained? [Was the story captivating and the mechanics understandable?]
Mechanics – Score: 30/35
The tutorial was pretty much garbage. You’ll learn the most in multiplayer, primarily, then in the challenges. The reason I didn’t dock this more is because the mechanics are so simple and few in number that the tutorial is barely necessary anyways.
Story/Lore – Score: 0/65
There’s no story. There’s no lore. There is nothing to keep you invested in the game besides the very repetitive and sparse gameplay itself. That’s not good. Oh, and the unlocks. Forgot about dem cosmetics, tho.
How was the gameplay?
What little is there is very, very good. The controls are tight and intuitive, the physics is predictable (as it should be), the play is fast-paced and MOST of the time, everything is seamless. When I’m in the game, I’m IN the game, very focused, very competitive…at least for a little while as explained above.
How much were my senses tickled?
SFX – Score:10/10
Every sound that this game was beautiful, well-designed, perfectly timed, satisfying…ugh. Very good job. I couldn’t give you more praise on this, Psyonix.
Soundtrack – Score: 10/20
Ask me about Rocket Leauge’s soundtrack, and I’ll tell you that it has one. The songs don’t really stand out. They aren’t bad and they aren’t as bland as elevator music, but I only ever listen to the soundtrack if there are additions before feeling underwhelmed and switching to my own music. To be fair, it would be difficult to have a cinematic playlist perfectly suited for this game, so I commend the effort, but it falls quite short. Just listen to your own music if you decide to play this game.
Voice Acting – Score: 20/20
Ask me about Rocket League’s voice acting, and I’ll reply with ‘Do you mean the crowd chanting?’. I’m not saying that this game is even in need of voice-acting. If anything, voice-acting would probably make this game worse and all kinds of cheesy, which is why it gets a perfect score for having none.
Graphics – Score: 20/20
There is really no denying that this is a beautiful game. Everything has a really good mix between realism and stylization; all the effects and shaders and textures and models look great without being overboard and causing visual fatigue, and it just looks good.
Controllability -Score: 30/30
Although controllability isn’t the best, it’s good enough to deserve a perfect score. The main thing with which I’m concerned is the maneuverability differences between vehicles. Some have a tighter turning/flying radius than others which gives some vehicles a distinct advantage.
How few bugs were there? [Any glitches in the game negatively impact the score based on how much they ‘broke’ the game or ruined my experience. After first week only.]
This game, for the most part, is relatively free of game-breaking bugs. A few still come up, though, and usually they are the same ones that happened months ago. Server problems are the most prominent where things happening on day 1 still happen to me (though with less frequency) at least once every time that I play the game. Then I’ll have (maybe a few times in 10 hours) unexplained game-crashes, stuttering, freezing, teleporting in game, sliding, unregistered goals, and any number of things that just leaves my screaming to my viewers PSYONIX, WHY? I THOUGHT THAT YOU FIXED THIS MONTHS AGO!???
Oh, and before you think about blaming me for MY internet connection…here ya go; http://www.speedtest.net/my-result/5017752485
Availability and diversity of settings?
The settings for graphics gives you a lot of options, but not enough for those like me who really want to tweak every detail, or those with less than stellar systems who can still barely run the game with everything on low. For me, having to edit the text files to unlock the framerate? What? Fucking WHAT? Other studios do it too, so I’m not necessarily mad at Psyduck, more just the practice itself.
Adjusting the camera settings for your 3rd person view of your vehicle was a great, amazing, wonderful touch and it’s what kept the score for this category as high as it is. I was able to get everything looking and feeling exactly the way that I wanted, and that is so prudent to this game to get any amount of competitive edge.
How was the optimization? [ Size of files, ability to run smoothly, etc.]
Sizes – Score: 25/30
Taking into account that this game barely has anything in it at all? I had to tone this one back a bit because, even though it may feel like 10+ gigabytes in size, it’s really only about 3GB. Nicely done.
Performance – Score: 40/70
For this one, as usual, I run various stress tests before during and after playing the game to get an idea how it affects my system and the game. I have a fairly beefy rig ( http://pcpartpicker.com/p/TqTJK8 ) and this game runs well, max settings on everything and unlocked frames getting about 120 of them…but the temperatures…oh my gosh, why? I even suffered a bit of performance by factory clocking everything and trying again, getting fewer frames and only marginally better temperatures. Multitasking and playing this game is a no-no. Just don’t do it unless you have a rig similar to mine. Luckily, my system is well-cooled, so I don’t have to worry about long play sessions, but yours better be as well or you might have some computer freezes after a few hours.
During online play versus offline, the main difference is the framerate. When you get near the 144Hz mark, online versus offline with a good system could be the difference between 20 frames. Keep that in mind.
In general, I have no idea when this game will and won’t be stable, but it IS stable more often than not.
Performance At Launch [First week only.] – Score: -0/20
The game was playable for most people, albeit annoying for the first week, without anything too detrimental besides the server hassle. This is meant if anything made the game unplayable for a portion or the majority of the first week of launch.
DLC/Microtransaction – Score: -5/20
Although, for the most part, the microtransactions are benign, the Supersonic Fury pack is basically required if you want to get a car (Dominus) that, pros agree, is the best vehicle if you don’t like Octane. When you have different car models, it’s hard to keep all things equal, but a better job could be done. If you try and argue with me, or a lot of people that say the same thing, watch the pros play and you will very, very quickly see that most are playing one of 3-4 different vehicles out of the 13 available after you buy all DLC.
Customizability – Score: -0/20
This usually pertains to cosmetics and the game as a whole. They get extra credit.
Community Correspondence – Score: -0/20
To me, keeping engaged with the community is very important and necessary, without warranting its own category, and Psyduck has done a very good job about keeping in touch.
Promises – Score: -0/20
They didn’t make many promises, and they kept the ones that they made (as far as I know with a little digging). No reprimand. This section is if studios promised us something or led us to believe another thing (graphical downgrade, for instance) then stole the rug from under us.
Performance At Launch [First week only.] – Score: 0/20
This category is for those games that really stand out as a testament to attentiveness to detail. When taking into account the actual size and scope of the game and the number of developers that were working on it, I’m surprised it wasn’t worse. However, it wasn’t better than my standard of expectations when thinking about awarding extra credit.
DLC/Microtransaction – Score: 20/20
This category is also for if they had fairly priced and worthwhile DLC. For the most part, at least the things for which you pay, have been pretty okay, nothing too grand. They get extra credit (which is sad since it should be common practice) for releasing the BIG ticket items like maps and game-modes…for free. GGPsyduck.
Customizability – Score: 15/20
Although you are still restricted as to HOW MUCH you can customize your vehicle and other settings in the game
Cross-Platform – Score: 15/20
Although I’m a PCMR kinda guy, I still hate when my system gets exclusives. I went on a whole rant about it several times in various forums and I just think it’s bad for the consumer. They didn’t get the full 20 because of the delayed release for the XBox (when the game is slowly dying as it is), but at least it’s a very good step in the right directions.
Promises – Score: 0/20
Like I said, I didn’t notice anything that Psyonix did that was too impressive for this category. This section is for studios that promise something grand and innovative, then actually follow through.
~~~~~ Final Score: 770 / 1,000 ~~~~~
In the end, this game is worth every penny ($20 USD), but I’m still upset about some of the frequent missteps taken by Psyonix. I do have to take into account that the dev team (last time that I checked) was 12 people, so I have to admit that everything is impressive when that is understood, but I still rate a game based on the game itself. There isn’t much else to say about this game that I haven’t said already, which is sad because I wanted to praise this game for what it could be…but I’ll destroy this game for what it is…and I can’t quite do that either. It’s a good time-waster, but I doubt that (unless changes or additions are made) this game will resonate within most people to really keep playing and playing and replaying and resetting and playing it again. It doesn’t have that charm for me.