IndieTrials
Rotor
Developed by Pocket Starship
Released on February 10th 2011
Sold on XBLIG for 80 MSP
Review details
Reviewed on March 17th 2011 by Martin Caine
First impressions
The box art for Rotor is high quality, it's contrast and clear title are easily recognizable yet it doesn't really tell you anything about the game.

The start screen for Rotor is minimal but looks nice, after selecting a storage device you're immediately presented to a view of Rotor's cityscape and the game's menu. This is very slick, and make for a great first impression. This is one of the best looking games on XBLIG and I can't wait to jump into the game.
Trial experience
After selecting the palette I want to use for the city's buildings I start a new game. This is the first point you see that you're controlling a helicopter. A message pops up to tell you that you can check the controls from the help menu, it's easily accessible by pressing Start so I check them out. Looks fairly straightforward. I also took notice of the 'If you get stuck, press and hold Y' message displayed on each of the help screens.

I quickly find that trying to maintain elevation is a little tricky. I'm a big fan of helicopter games so I can only imagine how some less experienced players would find the controls. While flying around I was generally able to point the helicopter in the direction I wanted and fly but couldn't keep my elevation stable.

One thing I noticed was that when starting a mission you sometimes can't see where you're meant to go, I think it would be good for the game to automatically point you in the right direction at this point to start you off.

I also experienced a slight bug, with the helicopter getting stuck in a wall. Holding Y reset my position and freed me from the wall.

I have to say that the game looks great and I'm enjoying it, although every single mission I attempt fails because I can't control the helicopter well enough. I think the missions should be relaxed a little to give you more time as it did get a little frustrating not being able to complete even a single mission.

Part way through my second play the trial ends and I'm left wanting to play the trial again to see if I can learn to fly the helicopter a little better.
Overall thoughts
Rotor is one of the most visually striking games on XBLIG but suffers slightly from a somewhat complex flight model and control scheme.

The game looks very well made and polished. A lot of hard work has obviously gone into it and it's fast too. The initial load is almost instant, so you can quickly see the cityscape and get into the game.

The game is massively let down by the difficulty of the controls however. The controls are fairly accurate however and the movement of the helicopter looks realistic, it's just that you have to fly by using a combination of both sticks and use the triggers for thrust. I think the option of a slightly simplified flight model could appeal to more players, and especially to people who're new to the game.

At the end of the trial I think most people will be thinking the controls are a little tricky and I think many will have another bash at the trial, but ultimately decide not to buy. It's a shame as the game is very good and I'm sure it would appeal to more people with a simpler flight model.
Rating