I have never been a big fan of football, other than the Euros and the World Cup when I enter into the hivemind of the British public and scream all sorts of obscenities at my TV.
However, for some reason, by adding cars onto the playing field I become a football hooligan even Paul Gascoigne would stand in awe of.
Of course I am talking about Rocket League, which has just rocketed onto iOS and Android devices.
Following a short soft launch in Oceania, Psyonix launched Rocket League Sideswipe worldwide earlier this week.
Rocket League Sideswipe is a mobile version of the eponymous car football game first released in 2015.
A quick disclaimer, I am not the best at Rocket League which this annoys me profusely and I am hoping to redeem myself with Sideswipe.
Unlike its predecessor, Sideswipe takes place from a 2D perspective to better suit mobile devices. The 2D perspective doesn’t feel too dissimilar from early and mid 00’s flash games that had similar gameplay, however, Sideswipe looks significantly better.
The controls for Sideswipe are very simple, with a joystick on the left hand side of the screen for movement, and a control to jump and boost on the right hand side. The game gives players a quick tutorial which is really all that is needed, and you’re ready to go.
Staying true to the Rocket League aesthetic, Sideswipe features the same cars, similar customisable items, and look of the arenas, as well as a new but comparable electronic soundtrack. This feels just like Rocket League, only smaller and more accessible.
Unlike the former, each game in Sideswipe is only two minutes long, which is much more in tune with mobile devices. Two minute games are much more digestible than five minutes, meaning you can have a quick game here and there when you get a spare moment.
Currently, Sideswipe has three game modes, Duel (one versus one), Doubles, and Hoops (both two versus two), with different game modes taking place in different arenas.
One versus one games take place in the Shortstack arena, which has the goals lower to the ground, and looks like a football pitch. Doubles take place in S.C. Field, where the goals are higher up to accommodate for the increase in players.
Hoops takes place in the Dunk House, where the goal is shaped like a basketball hoop, with the pitch also modelled on a basketball court.
When playing either of the two versus two modes, you can choose to join a party with friends, or reach into the Sideswipe aether and pull out a random player to play with.
In addition to the online modes, players can select to play against bots offline, with the option of choosing the team size, arena and bot difficulty (novice, intermediate, expert).
Although similar in concept, the game modes feel surprisingly different and there are advantages and disadvantages of each.
Doubles is my favourite game mode as it adds the team element and the slightly more difficult gameplay due to the incline of the goals. However, if your teammate decides they don’t want to play anymore they simply stop moving, meaning you have to work twice as hard (and out comes my inner football hooligan).
Therefore, I end up playing Duels which means everything is down to my own talents and I can’t mooch off of a pro in the making.
I will say though, I seem to be quite good at Sideswipe so far, considering my poor Rocket League skills. I’ve attributed this to the game being fresh and everyone is getting used to playing it, although watch this space as I may be a grand champion by the end of the season.
There isn’t much to say about the Hoops game mode, I don’t think that’s the reason people play the game. It does bring a nice change of pace every so often though.
Sideswipe, just like Rocket League before it, features a ranking system with seven tiers, from bronze to grand champion (good luck reaching here). Each tier includes five divisions, with one the lowest and five the highest, with three sublevels in the tier.
Each victory will move players up a sublevel, with consecutive victories meaning you advance two sublevels at a time. However, if you lose too many games you will move in the opposite direction, with a similar consecutive model applying.
What frustrates me the most about Sideswipe is that there is no option to play unranked games online, meaning each game can affect your rank.
You also can’t view your game stats in Sideswipe, which would be a nice touch as the feature is already present in Rocket League.
As the game is more accessible, other players may not have as stable an internet connection as you, and then your game performance can suffer.
Like it’s console and PC counterpart, Sideswipe still suffers from players spamming the chat with react emotes, and there seems to be no cooldown on how many can be posted, leading to some very irritating games. As long as they don’t
He still losses
Positives and negatives aside, possibly the most interesting thing about Sideswipe is that the game is completely free, with no in-app purchases or ads, but it does feature a Rocket Pass, which unlocks new items as you continue to level up.
Shortly after being acquired by Epic Games, Psyonix made Rocket League free-to-play but with in-game purchases.
I can’t explain why the studio has made the decision to make Sideswipe completely free, considering the success that followed Rocket League operating the Rocket Pass model. What I can say is that I am grateful for a free, high quality game.
Overall, Sideswipe is a great example of how a game can be made simpler but still retain the same level of fun and key features.