Tag Archive: soccer

A beautiful game

For more than a decade, one of my favorite TV shows has been the BBC series Top Gear. I’m the furthest thing from a car nut, but I’ve always enjoyed the insane stunts they pull. On more than one occasion, the program has played soccer with a variety of cars. So, even though I had never played Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, the predecessor to Rocket League, I expected to be able to immediately jump into the concept.

Funny enough, my hunch proved correct. Rocket League’s entire premise is just playing soccer with cars. You try to deflect a massive ball into your opponent’s net more times than they knock the ball into yours before the 5-minute clock hits all zeroes. What I couldn’t predict, however, was just how damn addicting it would be. Sure, it might not sound like a lot to hold your attention, but its simplicity is why this is one of the best off-the-wall, arcade-inspired experiences you’re likely to find on new-gen consoles. Not to mention, it’s easy to pick up and play but difficult to master—an often-defining quality for games that have a habit of sucking you in as Rocket League did.

This leads me to Rocket League’s greatest strength, its controls. The cars handle like most vehicles in other driving games, with the triggers serving as the accelerator and brakes.

With the face buttons, you can perform a variety of moves normally equated with a traditional soccer game, such as boost, slide, or even jump. You can flip your car to perform bicycle kicks; tackle your opponents at high speeds, causing them to explode and be taken out of the play for a couple of seconds; and even hurtle yourself across the goal line before the ball crosses it to make last-second saves.

I found it difficult at first to do anything beyond just blindly ramming into the ball. But after a dozen or so matches, I could control my car as if it were an extension of myself, stopping on a dime and performing acrobatic feats that shouldn’t be possible in a 2-ton car. I even used the walls, which you can drive along at high speeds, to bounce and re-direct the ball in mid-air.

The problem with performing these stunts, however, is that the game’s camera can’t keep up. It can be set to follow either the player or the ball, but neither option is as effective as I’d like. When it follows the player, the camera hugs the rear bumper pretty tightly, so it’s easy to lose track of the action when I’m taken out of the play or I shoot past the ball.

If the camera follows the ball, the controls change, making it far more difficult to control the car. You can switch between the two on the fly, but the herky-jerky transition isn’t pleasant. Instead, you’ll probably have a better time taking your chances with the default camera. A wider camera option, or even one locked at midfield, would have been a nice solution.

On the other hand, Rocket League excels at offering customization options. Although the choices are only cosmetic in nature, the game offers more than a hundred unlockable items ranging from new car chassis to the color of your boost stream. And something particularly pleasant is that you receive one randomly after each match you play, online or offline, win or lose. After only a few matches, you can make your car look as unique or as generic as you desire.

Unfortunately, the game modes themselves have far fewer options than the vehicles do. The single-player mode matches you against nine computer opponents that you can choose to face one to four times each. The mode doesn’t give you a reason to care, so it only serves as another way to warm up before taking on human opponents online. Both online and offline modes only feature your standard versus match, with the single variation coming from how many players—from one-versus-one to four-versus-four—you want to play with.

Even without many game-mode variations, though, the sole option Rocket League touts is a good one. Most folks probably won’t need more than your standard versus mode, especially if you start playing online with your friends, which is where this game really shines. At the time of this review, the early server issues that were reported seem to have been resolved; I experienced no connectivity or matchmaking problems during the past week. So, if you can look past a wonky camera and put the time into mastering the controls, Rocket League looks to be a nice hidden gem of a game that would make for a great way for you and your friends to get through the dog days of summer.

Developer: Psyonix • Publisher: Psyonix • ESRB: E10+ – Everyone 10 and older • Release Date: 07.07.15
Despite a few camera issues and lack of modes, Rocket League is a fun, addicting experience that will keep players engaged for a long time.
The Good Plenty of options for customization, surprisingly tight control, and tons of fun when playing with people.
The Bad No depth to the single-player; camera can be a nuisance at times.
The Ugly How badly it shames soccer games with humans.
Rocket League is available on PS4 and PC. Primary version reviewed was for PS4. Review code was provided by Psyonix for the benefit of this review.

Ray Carsillo gives his final prediction for the Super Bowl, talks about the possible Ryan Callahan trade between the New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues, and discusses the recent events in the WWE. Welcome to Ray’s Man Cave!

Originally Published: November 15, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Kinect Sports for the Xbox 360 and its Kinect peripheral.

Originally Published: November 13, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 for the PS3.

Originally Published: November 2, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed FIFA 11 for the Nintendo Wii due to the massive differences between the Wii and Xbox 360/PS3 versions.

Digital Download Dominance?

Originally Published: July 21, 2010, on ESPNNewYork.com

I don’t usually spend a lot of time reviewing iPhone games, but I’ve been spending a lot of time in airports and waiting for delayed flights the past couple of months, so my iPhone has become my savior on some of the worst trips. So, I figured it’d be nice if I reviewed a couple of iPhone games for those out there who may read my column and run into the same problems that I have recently.

The first game I want to talk about is called iBailout!!. Basically, imagine Ms. Pac-Man set to the theme of the recent economic crisis where a yellow ball and pink bow have been replaced by a large corporation building set out to gobble up all of the Federal Reserve’s funds instead of little yellow dots. Of course, it wouldn’t be a true Ms. Pac-Man style adventure if there weren’t things to avoid and iBailout!! provides that in the form of us, the American people. But do not fear! By collecting AK-47s and arming themselves to the teeth, your vacuum like corporation building will easily mow down the unsuspecting citizens as it continues to gobble up as much cash as possible.

Now, I’m not usually one to use my reviews to make any kind of grand statement, but I did find a bit of humor in the one that Marroni Electronic Entertainment made with the creation of this game. A simple, well-designed homage to a true classic, fans of Ms. Pac-Man and conservatives everywhere will probably want to take a look at iBailout!! when looking to kill a few minutes with their iPhones and is available for $1.99 at the iTunes Store.

The second game that I want to talk about will probably stir up a little less controversy. In honor of the recently completed FIFA World Cup, I present Flick Kick Football (Soccer). Part of a whole series of sports games brought to us by PikPok, Flick Kick Football (Soccer) gives you a chance to test your skills in a variety of common free kick and penalty kick situations from The Beautiful Game by simply dragging your finger across the ball. Depending on how fast and what angle you flick the ball at will determine its trajectory as you attempt to curve the ball around and through more and more defenders as the game progresses and you try to beat your high score. If you miss your shot though it could be game over, but you can earn extra lives by burying the really difficult shots to make up for when you maybe mis-flick an easier kick.

Including a time-trial mode, target practice mode, and an achievements list Flick Kick Football (Soccer) offers you a chance to not only kill some time as you try to perfect bouncing the ball in off the inside of a goal post, but to also compare your high scores (my high score is 66 goals) and scoring streaks with friends as you try to become the ultimate Flick Kick Footballer. Flick Kick Football (Soccer) is available now for $0.99 at the iTunes Store.

So there you have it folks. A couple of cheap and effective ways to kill time on your iPhones if you’re like me and end up getting stuck in an airport while waiting for a thunderstorm to pass or maybe if you just don’t feel like breaking out a controller for your console games. Both games are available for purchase now.

-Ray Carsillo

The Beautiful Game

Originally Published: December 2, 2009, on 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com)

Soccer has always been the most popular sport in the world, but in the United States it has never been better than 5th in many people’s eyes. Slowly though it has pulled even with other sports for many people as the USA’s representative team and MLS teams have improved their overall quality of play over the years. Now, as we prepare for the 2010 World Cup, US soccer fans are almost at a fever pitch.

Although it is arguable if a US soccer fan will ever reach the level of intensity as fans from European or South American countries (probably not), the spike in popularity for the sport on US soil is clear. With this spike in popularity, we have seen a spike in video games sales for the main soccer video game franchise, FIFA, produced by EA Sports, as well.

FIFA 10, this year’s entry into the FIFA library, is clearly the best version ever produced in the series as the inclusion of the My Live feature, similar to the NBA Live 365 feature, allows you to take control of your favorite team like never before. And the people have responded to this year’s improvements as 4.5 million units have been sold worldwide in its first five weeks of availability, easily making it the most popular sports game of 2009.

I had a chance to talk to Sam Cooper, the Global Product Manager for the FIFA Soccer Franchise at EA Sports, about everything dealing with the FIFA franchise from the increase in sales and popularity over the years and improvements to this year’s game to his overall thoughts on the upcoming World Cup.

To listen to my interview with Sam Cooper, Global Product Manager for FIFA at EA Sports

Ray Carsillo