Fly the friendly RC skies in RC Plane 2

Friendly, and rather lovely as well. If you're into flight sims and/or radio-controlled planes, you'll find a lot of fun here for just 99 cents.

Check out the scenery in RC Plane 2! Too bad that thumbstick is right in the way--and can't be relocated.
Check out the scenery in RC Plane 2! Too bad that thumbstick is right in the way--and can't be relocated. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

I love to fly--as long as I don't have to leave the ground to do it. That means my fun time of choice is either a flight simulator or a radio-controlled airplane.

RC Plane 2 gives me both. It's a flight simulator for iOS, one that focuses squarely on radio-controlled aircraft. In place of complex controls, you've got virtual thumbsticks for your throttle and ailerons/elevator (though you can also use the accelerometer for the latter).

For 99 cents, the app gives you two environments over which to fly (Tuscany and a seaside village), four planes to choose from (three-channel cruiser, four-channel cruiser, fighter jet, and stunt plane), and two game modes: Free Flight and Air Racer.

Want more? The developer offers additional planes and game modes (with bundled planes) via in-app purchase. Most of these run 99 cents and $1.99, respectively. For example, there's an Airbus package ($1.99) that comes with three jumbo jets, whereas RoadRunner (99 cents) challenges you to fly as low as possible along narrow roads and comes with an F-22.

Alas, you're stuck with the two environments, which can certainly get boring after a while. A couple more would be nice.

I had a far better experience with RC Plane 2 on my iPad than on my iPhone 4, where my two thumbs obscured a lot of the action, and the thumbsticks proved more difficult to control overall. Switching to accelerometer controls helped some, but I had a hard time getting comfortable with the elevators (despite fiddling with all the calibration and sensitivity settings).

That gripe aside, the game looks terrific (especially on the iPhone 4), with some of the best-looking skies I've seen in any iOS flight sim. There's even a decent fiery crash when you hit the ground or smack a mountain--always a nice touch.

I think the fun here lies in free flight, a wholly pleasant experience made even more relaxing by the accompanying chill-rock soundtrack. But if you like a little gaming in your flight-sim mix, RC Plane 2 offers that as well. It's definitely worth a look for fans of flight.

 

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