Shiny's RC Stunt Copter is an inexpensive alternative to the particularly pricey and incredibly fragile device known as the radio-controlled copter. The learning curve for controlling both the real-life and virtual copters is very steep, but the latter provides an endless supply of replacements at no additional cost, as well as an extended tutorial.
Your instruction begins with ten stages, where you learn how to land your copter, sharp shoot, and other basic functions, all of which you'll learn on a ship with training skids that keep you from crashing. The better you do in the training levels, the more copters you open up for the single-player game. The rookie copter is the machine you use during the training levels (complete with an auto leveling function). The next level's pilot ship doesn't have the auto level but does have the training skids, and the captain class doesn't have the training skids or the auto level. The ace has the stunt-ride feature, which enables you to fly the copter upside down.
The single-player game comprises six levels made up of five stages each. The stages test your skills in the areas of hovering, shooting, landing, slalom, and targeting (playing through structures), with each consecutive stage being more difficult than the last. For instance, the slalom stage in the first level requires you to fly back and forth through two goal posts in a football field, while in a later slalom challenge you must navigate above or below a series of hurdles. Likewise, in an earlier landing stage, you'll have to set down on three consecutive landing pads. Eventually, you'll have to accomplish this while the pads are moving.
Playing through using the rookie copter will prepare you well to fly pilot class, while the captain class (in which you must perform complex stunts as well as fulfill each stage's general requirements) will take some time to master and the ace class, even more. So the single-player game is essentially one long training experience for flying this impossibly delicate machine.In the two-player mode, you and your opponents face the same challenges of the single-player game. In a nice break from the norm, the noncompeting player can try to make his opponent crash by placing a large polygonal hand on the screen, blocking his opponent's view. The extended learning curve severely limits the number of people you can get to play against you in this mode, but once a few are prepped and up to speed, RC Stunt Copter is one of the best drinking games since Virgin Interactive's never-released fighter Thrill Kill.
And since drinking games usually have a humorous tie-in, it only makes sense that the game is peppered with smart-alecky lines delivered from a male narrator (who, oddly enough, sometimes sounds like the hippie teacher from Beavis & Butt-Head). These lines are often funny, and they're bearable because they're not repeated too often. The sheer number of unique comments is actually very impressive. Unlike in most sports games that have "color commentary," there are so many lines in RC Stunt you can play it for hours without hearing all of them. The music is pretty sparse, but the other sound effects get the job done.
Graphically, the game is slightly above average, with a camera that does what it should most of the time - it sticks behind the copter until you get close to the stage's visual boundaries. At that point, the camera changes so that you are either facing your own ship head-on or viewing it from the side, which is very disorienting though true to the real-life experience.
Going beyond the camera's capabilities, the controls in RC are fantastic. You'll be amazed with some of the stunts you can pull off after spending a lot of time with the game. There's a lot of value in the single-player mode because the control is so good. (we're talking about the analog controller here, folks). Also, the two-player competition makes up for the fact that you're repeating the same levels with different copters. Altogether, RC is a genre-bending title that's well worth checking out.