For the next ten days, Dan will be posting picks for the Games of the Year in no particular order. These are favorites from 2015 that he actually played and were released during the calendar year. Enjoy!
Rocket League has to be the biggest surprise by far in 2015. As much as Dying Light came a bit out of left field, Rocket League was not on the radar. The quality and popularity of this soccer-by-way-of-rocket-powered-cars is astonishing.
Mixing fun arcade driving and the simple rules of soccer, Rocket League is addictive and endlessly rewarding. It captures the difficulty of sports in ways that EA or 2K could only hope to emulate. In an absurd sense, the game is almost a simulation that is not readily apparent. While not being a one-to-one representation of soccer, Rocket League simulates the mess and battle of wills possession can be. Scoring a goal while superficially easy can also be a monumental feat. It captures the essence of the sport even though the players are rocket powered cars.
Never in my wildest dreams would I think that Rocket League would be the best simulation of a pick-up indoor soccer game, but there it is. From every strangely contested ball stuck in the corners to long scoring droughts followed by a blistering avalanche of amazing goals, Rocket League is the most exciting and approachable sports game in years. While Madden and NBA 2K have spent years piling on options, stats, mechanics all in service of realism, this game looks back to Tecmo Bowl, Double Dribble, NBA Jam, Blades of Steel, RBI Baseball. Those games took a few minutes to learn so everyone could play. Easy to learn, hard to master, soccer with rocket cars is what video sports games should be.
No game correctly emulates the thrill of real life sports like Rocket League, and that is an amazing thing.