“It’s like soccer, but with cars”
Available on PC and PlayStation 4 (tested)
I was very skeptic about this little gem at first; a game that’s releasing for free if you are PS Plus subscriber that’s about soccer but with cars didn’t draw my attention at all to be honest. I also recalled a friend of mine telling me to look forward to the game, as it was developed by Psyonix Studios, who had been known for doing Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars on the PS3. But it wasn’t until a day after downloading it that the blindfold was removed from my eyes: some friends came by to say hello, wanted to play something “friendly” on the PlayStation and I didn’t had the usual FIFA. So after going through my collection of games, I remembered this new little game and said “why not?”
What a blast we had! The game is as simple as scoring more goals than your rival by hitting the giant ball with your RC car. You can play 1 vs 1, 2 vs 2 and 3 vs 3, both locally (split screen) or online. Haven’t tried a 3 vs 3 locally but I assume that it would be kinda hectic for your display, although 2 vs 2 can be played fine on the same machine. You also have a Season mode, where you are part of a team of 3 cars (bots or players) and tackle a lengthy string of matches in order to crown yourself champion. It’s cool to see a “single player” option in a game so heavily focused on online gaming, although it could feature a couple of variants more (it has a challenge mode that is everything but challenging).
As you play matches, be it with friends, online or a season, you start collecting new RC cars to select from and items to tune the car, such as tires, types of paint jobs, decals and extras of all sorts (taxi signs, pirate hats, flags, etc). Changing cars and items don’t give any particular advantage but make you look cool. There are roughly 160 collectibles, so you will be playing a while to unlock them all.
But let’s go to the where the game shines, its gameplay. It’s simple, it’s tight and it’s easy to assimilate. You accelerate with R2, drift with Square, Reverse with L2, jump with X (pressing X again results in a double jump) and boost with Circle. Triangle lets you alternate between two camera modes, one that is more like a free roaming mode and the other that fixes on the ball. I recommend the latter, albeit when the ball is too close and high in the air you can get a little bit disoriented. As for the rules, as I have said before, they are as simple as they get: 5 minutes match, the ball starts in the middle of the field, each team try to get the ball first, they battle for a while until someone eventually scores, ball is set on the middle for the cycle to start again; the one that scores more goals wins.
I know, I know, told like that doesn’t seem to be so appealing, but trust me, once you start playing it you can’t stop, it’s simply too damn fun. And it’s even better when you play it locally with some friends, where I can guarantee you will laugh a lot, be it when you smash a rival car while boosting in order to destroy it or scoring a goal in what it seemed a legit team play, although it was surely pure luck.
From a graphic standpoint, the game runs fine, looks fine, nothing too fancy but it does the trick. The various fields differentiate one from another which is cool, and so do the different car models. Keep in mind this is definitely a game you play for its gameplay, regardless of how it looks.
Should you play it? Absolutely, you will have an awesome time. And also, if you are a PS Plus subscriber, you can download it for free for the rest of July! Although beware of some performance issues related to the menu, that it seems to be bricking some PlayStations if you linger to long on the menu (I have played the game for almost 6 hours without stopping and didn’t have a single issue). The guys at Psyonix Studios are reportedly working on a patch to solve this issue, so look forward to it.