Psyonix has boiled down and tried to concentrate on the original concept behind its popular online game and we're really impressed.
I have not played a lot of Rocket League, only a little. And I like it, of course. For those who have been living under a rock in recent years, Rocket League is an arcade game of the old kind where you boot a football with the help of remote controlled cars. The genius lies in the simplicity of the set-up in combination with the depth that exists in the game mechanics and now, six years after the launch, it is easy to say that Psyonix's retro indie title is a huge success.
My first thought when I heard that Psyonix was in full swing to transfer its ingenious super-successful concept to iPhone and Android was that the concept would be perfect for mobile gaming (it has been around for Switch for almost four years and works great despite a little too low resolution) but when I then saw that it would be some kind of greatly simplified, two-dimensional story - I lost all the craving to play I had previously built up. There are plenty of examples where high-profile big games have become pure rubbish in an attempt to make the very basic concept easier to play on mobile platforms, including Elder Scrolls, Forza Motorsport, The Witcher and Doom, and I ended up losing interest in Rocket League Sideswipe.
However, after playing around 40 matches in the last 24 hours, buying stuff for my car and talking to like-minded car-football-crazy people via Epic's servers, I am prepared to admit that my prior scepticism was completely unnecessary. 100% excessive. Against all odds, Rocket League Sideswipe is truly a successful mobile game where the developers have managed to boil down the most essential aspects from the original game into a smaller, faster, simpler variant that still shares the same basic idea: Easy to play, hard to master.
The setup is as simple as it can get. Two or four players divided into two teams try to launch a big ball into each other's goals with the help of small cute remote control cars. To help you, you have a jump button that makes the car either jump directly up or leap forward, and when you double-click on that button, you get a rocket function that allows you to launch your little car right up in the air to knock around the ball towards the opposing team's goal. In the original game, as we all know, it was about a large football field with traditional goals at ground level, but in Sideswipe, the developers have raised the goals a few metres from the ground to make it all the more difficult, and it is a fantastic change that in many ways saves this game from becoming a far too simple goal party.
It's important to manage your rocket power and use the nitro power in the afterburner at exactly the right moment to push the ball in the right direction, with the right amount of speed. Of course, it is also important to be quick back towards your own goal if the opponent/opponents should get a nice hit and if you approach the opposing team's goal, it's a good idea to use the jumping function to boot the ball into the goal. Each match won gives points that can be used in an online store where you can paint, decorate or change your car and buy new greeting phrases, rims, hats and brand new car models.
To be able to play this online, via Epic Games' own servers, you must log in and here the developers have designed an exemplary system where it is full of flexible alternatives. You can choose whether you want to log in using your Xbox account, PlayStation account, Nintendo account, Epic account, Google, Facebook or Apple and considering that I reviewed Rocket League Sideswipe on my iPhone 13 Pro Max, this was ultra-quick to just select the Apple option and with the help of Face-ID log in to Epic Games servers. It's well designed and super flexible.
Rocket League Sideswipe is brilliantly presented with a good menu system, short loading times and a solid interface. It is game-wise simple to understand but difficult to master and it works great as an online game. I have had zero trouble finding fun matches against sensible opponents, as there is a smart system for scoring after the match has been won and the same applies if your opponent loses their temper and rage quits the current match. The opportunity to decorate your car to your liking is just as nice here as in the original game and the built-in soundtrack is also a highlight. It's ultimately easy to state that Psyonix has done what so many other developers have failed to do in recent years, and for me this is one of the absolute best mobile titles of the year.
8 / 10
Nice design. Nice graphics. Short queue times. Ingenious game mechanics. Stable online servers.