- Format: 360 (XBLA), PS3 (PSN) (version reviewed)
- Unleashed: Out Now
- Publisher: Gaijin Entertainment
- Developer: Gaijin Entertainment
- Players: 1
- Site: http://www.skydivegame.com/en
Last year wingsuits were all the rage in AAA games and what was once sooo last season might be making a comeback. Skydive: Proximity Flight seems to be trying to bring wingsuits back into fashion – but does it score a perfect landing, or crash into the mountainside and fall to the ground in a crumpled heap of broken dreams and shattered bones?
Skydive – as its name implies – is a game all about falling down from the heavens and breaking your body as little as possible in the process. Using your wingsuit, you glide down the side of mountains and through canyons, through various races and challenges. There isn’t a particular progression path so it’s less like the extreme sports games like SSX and Tony Hawks and more like the sort of thing you’d find in an arcade cabinet – choose the gametype and course, and off you go. It is quick to load and reload, so if you mess up there’s little frustration in failing and trying again.
It’s a little lax on teaching you how to play, giving you basic challenges instead of a full blown tutorial to teach you how to perform basic movement and tricks – sans teaching you the importance of adrenaline. Because of this line of introduction to the game, you aren’t really lulled into controlling yourself in the air; which is something that can be a little distressing if you start with sixaxis controls (the default control type on PS3) rather than the left analog stick.
Motion controls are usually hit or miss when faced with the standard controller features, and usually worse – but in this instance sixaxis seems to be the better method in some cases. It’s a little easier to steer surprisingly enough, but because of how tricks also use the sixaxis it means that the game will lose its positioning of the controller when you take certain bends and movements. Basically it’ll leave you twisting the controller back and forth until it recognises the movement you want again – usually a little too late; not too late to start turning the way you want but late enough so that you ram into the side of some rocky outcrop or cliff face. It “feels” better with the sixaxis but the analog stick will be infinitely more reliable for making repeated sharp turns and the like.
The core gameplay is: jump off of a starting point, glide, trick and boost (use adrenaline) until you have scored the required points/got to the finish/ gone through enough hoops; before finally landing (or not even bothering to because landing is hardly ever required). You get to perform “basic” tricks to earn score and adrenaline (like barrel rolls and flips), but every other trick is proximity based. It makes the trick system feel a little underwhelming since there is very little to do when you are in an open space aside from dive towards the ground or within a hairsbreadth of a mountainside. There are a few more difficult proximity tricks but until you find them by either chance or guessing you’ll be a little lost to earn as high a score as possible.
The game modes vary from races against the AI (with a built in rewind function to help correct mistakes), challenges that might ask you to perform these tricks or pass through this many rings on a route, and lastly a freestyle mode that lets you pick a location, starting point and weather conditions. Freestyle is basically a score attack mode and alongside the race mode you try and “beat the best”; where you choose a time on the leaderboard and see if you can beat it. While everything that you would expect to be there is there, it does lack any particular structure past “complete these challenges one by one”, which might put some people off.
You do get a pool of characters to choose from; with their various weights, speeds and manoeuvrability scores there is a fair amount of choice for whichever situation you may need them for. Unfortunately, unless you are going for a specific challenge, the unlockable characters tend to be vastly superior with some being almost maxed out in all stats and are the better choices.
It does have some interesting viewpoints; you can use the simple 3rd person perspective – or you could be completely insane and choose one of the other three viewpoints; left leg, right leg and first person. It takes any normal person about ten seconds to realise that not only is it more difficult to control from these perspectives but also – it gives you a camera that is attached to your character’s body. That means it will roll around with the character which is a hugely impressive sight to behold while playing, but possibly the most disorientating thing you could possibly have to deal with in a game where you should be hurtling through caverns whilst barrel-rolling to earn adrenaline. It’s a great idea and great fun to use but massively impractical.
The game caters to a niche crowd; it doesn’t have the trick depth that veterans of similar titles would expect but it still has some of the thrills that extreme sports games have. It doesn’t have a standard multiplayer but it doesn’t really need it because of how the game plays, leaving you with leaderboard based challenges. It’s fun for a while; but if you need structure rather than a set of scores to beat, then you will find yourself uninterested in continuing.