Rocket League Sideswipe puts high-horsepower soccer in your pocket, and nails it

Articles: Gaming
Jan 21, 2022 Written by:Whitson Gordon

The neon lights of my wheels spin brightly as I make a break for the ball. As it floats high above the field, three other cars race along the grass to be the first to make a shot. I see my chance, jumping into the air and intercepting the ball. With my booster propelling me like a rocket in mid-air, I lightly balance the ball on my hood, carrying it across the field over my opponents to score a final, explosive goal in the last few seconds of the day's tensest match.

This is the promise of Rocket League Sideswipe, a new mobile interpretation of the celebrated Rocket League franchise. If you've been in the gaming space even casually over the past few years, you're probably familiar with Rocket League's premise: two teams of rocket-powered cars duke it out in a soccer-meets-demolition-derby style competition that's shockingly addictive. It's equal parts silly and serious, making it perfect for casual five-minute matches and hardcore esports tournaments alike, Rocket League is one of those games I return to regularly, and it's a blast every time.

So when Psyonix released Rocket League Sideswipe for Android and iOS, I was immediately intrigued—and hooked within minutes. The premise is the same as the PC and console version, but it's been adapted to a two-dimensional plane, albeit with 3D-rendered graphics remarkably similar to its more advanced counterpart. Online matches allow for 1v1 and 2v2 soccer games, plus the basketball-esque "Hoops" variant to keep things interesting. Matches last five minutes, like on other platforms, perfect for quick-play sessions as you wait in line or sit on the train.

What's so impressive about Sideswipe, though, is how much it feels like Rocket League. From the EDM-infused soundtrack of the main menu to the blast of smoke that accompanies every goal, Sideswipe matches its older sibling beat for beat. The touch controls are similarly simple to learn but difficult to master, with just enough of the iconic Rocket League moon-physics to keep things from feeling too easy at any given moment. While some mobile games are pale imitations of their desktop counterparts, or share little beyond the franchise's name, Rocket League Sideswipe is an incredible adaption of the original game for mobile. In fact, it's easily one of my favorite mobile games to date.

The touch controls in particular are a pleasure to use, with a control stick on the left and two buttons on the right—boost and jump—which I never feel like I miss, even with the lack of tactile response. Though with my ROG Phone 5s, I'm also able to assign these buttons to the air triggers on the top of my phone, which allows for a bit more versatility in control. The game also offers multiple presets for graphical quality, which can make the game more playable on older or low-powered phones—or allow you to crank everything to max on a high-powered device like the 5s.

Just like the original Rocket League, I can play Sideswipe in short five-minute bursts when I have time to kill, but I've learned that's often easier said than done—I often find myself playing more than a few matches in a row seeking that sweet victory high. Rocket League's goofy cosmetics are ever-present as well, and regularly gave me motivation to keep winning matches to customize my car (so far I'm rocking lightning-themed paint with a boombox on top of my roof). And while many cosmetics are purchasable with in-game currency, I've had no problems playing the game completely free, as there have been more than enough giveaways to keep me happy. Daily and weekly challenges net me extra bonuses, and some even cross over to the desktop and console versions, so your wins give you benefits in both games.

I can't remember the last time I had so much fun with a mobile game—this is one of those titles that's going to live on my phone for years to come. Whether you're a longtime Rocket League fan or new to the franchise altogether, you owe it to yourself to try it out. Rocket League Sideswipe is completely free to download and play for Android and iOS devices.