WHUP WHUP WHUP! In the vast universal dimension of nerdy hobbies, the cream of the nerdy crop is radio control helicopter flying. There are few entirely pointless activities one can participate in that are as expensive, potentially dangerous, and still extremely boring. In recent years, the field has been watered down to toys that are easy to fly, cheap, and, well, safe. Rotor brings all the fun of pointless helicopter flight to your Xbox for only 80 Microsoft points... So, I guess that it's not entirely pointless. Yuk! Yuk!
SPROING! Rotor has achieved a level of visual style virtually unrivaled in the realm of Xbox Live Indie games. The city is bizarre: the architecture is futuristic and surreal, and its height, limited navigable distance, and lack of occupants make it feel like a model of sorts. The simple flat color is highly reminiscent of such games such as N+ and Mirror's Edge, and the game gives you the option of changing the palette to suit your tastes. The texture mapped "Skylight" shadows give the game an eerily realistic feel while still maintaining an extremely high frame rate.
WHINE WHINE WHINE! The soundtrack is pure techno and fits the style of the game perfectly. The sound effects are subdued, but are well chosen nonetheless, and complement the game perfectly.
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! Rotor's structure starts in an open world that is littered with waypoints that determine your mission type. Once you fly through one of these waypoints, the game's timer begins. There are three mission types: Accuracy (where you fly the copter along a predetermined path as closely as possible), Waypoint (where you fly the copter as quickly as possible to get the next waypoint), and finally Orb Collect (where you have to gather orbs before the mission timer runs out). Run out of time in any of these missions, or diverge too much from the flight plan and the game puts you back in the world with the remaining time. When the time runs out, it's over... and speaking of over...
CRASH!There are reasons I can't recommend Rotor to anyone, and almost all of those reasons are control. The helicopter doesn't really control like you'd expect. It constantly feels the pull of gravity, making holding down on the ascender (right trigger) a must. There are three options for descending: let the copter slowly descend on its own, hit the descender and plummet to the ground way too fast, or hit the "dive" button and careen toward the ground too fast to recover. The left stick moves the copter forward and backward, and the right stick turns the 3D model of the copter and very marginally turns the camera, making steering an aggravating experience.
BURN! The real nail in the coffin, for me anyway, was that the level of challenge is so high that there is no leeway to improve. There are no tutorials, no "easy" missions, no way to slip into the game gradually. There's just the constant punishment and acidic taste of failure. I played this game for two hours straight, and during that time I was unable to complete even one mission. I can't recommend Rotor to anyone except the most masochistic and hardcore, and even then there isn't enough content to keep the challenge going.