Rocket League review: Soccer meets cars in 2015’s most intense game yet – Ars Technica

Posted: Saturday, July 11, 2015

We’re pretty cynical about “major league” sports video games at Ars Technica. Mostly, their annual team roster updates rub us the wrong way, and that tradition makes even less sense in an always-online, easily patchable gaming world. But that doesn’t mean we hate sports games. Here’s the thing: virtual versions of baseball, basketball, or hockey don’t always need to be bleedin’ authentic.

We’d go so far as to say the most lasting sports video games of our time have reduced their major-league counterparts to simpler abstractions. One of the earliest examples, 1983’s One On One, won out by stripping basketball down to its barest bits (perhaps because the Apple II couldn’t handle more than two richly animated characters at once). 1988’s Tecmo Bowl was a rock-paper-scissors classic, yet it contained so little of American football’s defining characteristics that it might have been laughed out of the NES generation had it not contained “real-life” players like Bo Jackson.

Similar praise goes to the NES’s one-two hockey punch of Blades of Steel and Ice Hockey, along with the rise of ’90s sports-arcade games like Virtua Tennis, NBA JamNFL Blitz, and Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey. The genre slowed down somewhat after American arcades crashed in the late ’90s, but the genre has recently resurfaced thanks to an indie renaissance, fueled both by weird, indie “digital sports” (particularly the 2014 Sportsfriends bundle) and by non-licensed, semi-authentic fare like Super Mega Baseball.

So this is the perfect time for a video game to walk the line between authentic and zany sports action, and Rocket League is quite possibly the most satisfyingly skill-based game we’ve ever seen in the genre. The elevator pitch is pretty great—”soccer with cars“—but the real winning point, and the reason we’re overlooking the game’s early hiccups, is that we’ve never played such a comfortable and controllable action-driving game.

Is it a “bicycle” kick if it’s by a car?

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