The rocket-powered battle cars make their Switch debut. Rocket League – the FingerGuns Review;
If you have been watching Top Gear over the years you would have seen their attempts at car football. Although the concept was fun it inevitably ended up being quite dull. The cars are sluggish to control, ball physics are boring and it’s all bogged down by the laws of gravity.
Psyonix, of course, came to the obvious conclusion that car football would make for a fantastic video game and went about making such a game that defies all laws of physics and made car football fun. Rocket League has been released on practically every console and gaming system known to man, and now, finally, it comes to Nintendo’s Switch, it’s spiritual home.
So if you haven’t heard of Rocket League before you need to get out from under that rock you’ve been hiding in and play it. It’s been one of the finest indie games to be released in recent years and as a result has been a phenomenal success. The basic premise is super simple – get the ball into the opponent’s goal. Sounds simple enough but when you add in jumps, boosting and the ability to drive up walls, you then have something far more complex and of course, far more fun.
Despite the frantic nature of the game and the thirst to just boost around the pitch chasing the ball, the game is far more nuanced than that. For starters nailing the ability to ‘fly’ is essential if you hope to be the best, and the excellent forward and side roll manoeuvres are a must. It’s mastering these skills that opens up Rocket League to be something that will eat away your time without you noticing and frankly you don’t really care.
The controls have always been simple, and intuitive on PS4 and I was worried initially that they might be a bit fiddly on the Switch with its smaller thumbsticks and buttons. Thankfully my fears vanished as soon as I started my first match. The controls are brilliantly balanced, and the use of the fantastic rumble features allows the Switch to subtly rumble as you dribble, shoot and score. It all just works. Even keeping track of the ball is solid.
There are two options: You can either have an arrow on screen pointing to where the ball is or you can lock the camera to the ball, it’s always been a bit fiddly no matter what console, but despite the small size of the screen (if playing in hand-held mode) it’s no better or worse than the PS4 version.
To help you nail those much-needed skills, there is a detailed tutorial allowing you to learn the basics and the more advanced manoeuvres before you take on the world or your mates with online or local co-op. It’s the local co-op where Rocket League really comes alive. There is nothing more fun than getting four mates around shouting at the TV screen and marvelling at the goals scored. Being on the Switch this game is frankly a perfect fit for Nintendo’s wonder machine because you can play two-player with just the single console, the only omission is the lack of camera control on a single Joy-Con. Something we can all live with I’m sure. Once the Switch is docked then you can get on with the brilliant four-player mode.
Online also works brilliantly. Naturally, you can hook up with your pals across the globe and start working your way up the league. But if you’re lacking friends then the game will fill up the places with bots so you no matter what, you can always have a good game. Another nice touch is that it has cross-network play available meaning you can play against Xbox and PC gamers but sadly not PlayStation gamers, though you can blame Sony for that.
Being a Nintendo console there are Nintendo specific items, so you get Super Mario World and Metroid themed cars plus a few other Nintendo customisations. If Nintendo characters and branding aren’t your cup of tea then you can use the random car generator which boasts something around 100 billion possible combinations.
The only downside I can see with the Switch version is the graphics. They have taken a bit of a pounding. Panic Button have used a dynamic resolution in handheld mode which changes depending on the stadium so there are lots of jaggies at times. However docked, Rocket runs at 720p and maintains the holy grail of 60fps. I guess while playing, this isn’t too bad as it’s so fast paced you probably won’t notice. However, I’m not sure if it was my review copy but on occasion, the graphics stuttered and almost looked like an early PS One game. Hopefully, its something that will be patched.
There is something inherently retro about Rocket League. Be it the simple gameplay, or the local co-op possibilities, I think that’s why it’s a perfect fit on the Switch. The controls, which were my initial concern are on point and the two-player multiplayer is just genius. It’s a shame there isn’t four-player on the hand-held version but I’m sure that’s just down to screen size than anything to do with processing power. The graphics have taken a hit but not enough for you to notice, especially in hand-held mode.
Panic Button has done a fine job, just as they did with the Switch port of Doom. Rocket League is another must-have title to add to the growing list of great games you need in your Switch collection.