Me: “Hey, Pixelkin! What game do you want me to review for December?”
Pixelkin: “How about Rocket League?”
Me: “Okay! What’s that?”
Rocket League website: “Soccer meets driving once again in the long-awaited, physics-based sequel to the beloved arena classic, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars!”
In real life, I am an excellent driver. In the world of gaming, I am the worst. Remember the movie, Driving Miss Daisy? Well, I make Daisy look like a Formula One racer.
When we owned a Wii, I would sometimes play Mario Kart with the kids. They were about 4 years old at the time, and they would routinely smoke me. I could never stay on the track, which is important in a game about driving. We also tried Monster Jam: Urban Assault, which I thought would go better since monster trucks are meant to flip over and go every which way. Turns out that when you keep running into walls, however, you are still going to lose.
Needless to say, I went into Rocket League with some trepidation. My daughter refused to show me how to play because she “doesn’t like car games.” My son, who at 7 must have forgotten my driving challenges, just sat down next to me, handed me the controller, and said, “Here you go, Mom. You’ll figure it out.”
I did not figure it out. My first two questions were: “How do I move forward?” and “How do I steer?”
The game itself is straightforward: you’re playing soccer, but with cars. If you’re like me, however, and you have trouble moving forward, turning, and figuring out when to jump all at the same time, this game is not going to go well for you. It was impossible for my son to help me because there are only so many different ways you can tell someone to “go to where the ball is” before you give up in disgust, as he did early on in our first practice session. The fact that you are put on a team with other random players only added to the stress for me, because then I was letting my whole team down. You might not think that you can tell how people feel when they are just cars driving around a soccer field, but trust me, I could sense the disappointment.
My son is great at Rocket League; he has even been known to score a goal or two, which at this point I see as a feat as miraculous as Moses parting the Red Sea. My husband, however, is also terrible at it, so his strategy is to take out the ringer—that one player on the other team who scores all of the goals. I don’t know that that’s particularly sportsmanlike, but I’ll bet the other elementary school kids on his team loved it.
All in all, Rocket League is not the Bland family’s game. I think it’s geared toward people who love sports and therefore don’t mind having a single objective in a game. It also helps if they can get their thumbs to do two different things at the same time. So, R.I.P. Rocket League—I’m just a one-thumb-at-a-time kind of girl.