With next-gen consoles slowly but surely becoming current-gen consoles, it’s easy to forget that there are still games coming out on the ol’ PS3 and 360. While a few high profile games such as South Park and Dark Souls have managed to steal the limelight away from their next-gen brethren, the slow trickle of XBLA and PSN releases struggle to attract anywhere near the same levels of attention.
With little in the way of advertising and all but zero fanfare, it’s easy to overlook titles such as, Gaijin Entertainment’s, Skydive: Proximity Flight; I mean, come on, the title doesn’t exactly scream triple-A does it? Honestly, if I hadn’t been given the game for review, I would have happily ignored it myself. Shit, I did ignore it. I saw it amidst the new titles on XBLA and didn’t even bother to download the demo (something I do for the majority of new releases) – a skydiving game with Kinect and Move support? Give me a break, I’ve got Titanfall to play. Why would I bother with a Kinect controlled skydiving game on my last-gen console?
Well, I should have, and thanks to my review code, am extremely glad I got the chance to play this relatively simple but undeniably enjoyable little game. While the premise itself is as basic as you might imagine, namely skydiving in one of those odd squirrel suits that I so often associate with Red Bull, the mechanics are solid, the game works whether you’re using Kinect, Move or a traditional controller (I would still go old school mind) and the amount of content is surprisingly robust for a game released at such a budget price.
With 43 missions to get through, a collection of AI races and a freestyle mode for those looking to do little more than take in the view, Skydive: Proximity Flight is the kind of game that you are likely to bore of long before you see everything that the game has to offer. That’s not a criticism mind; there’s just a ton of content for a game that, while fun, is fundamentally limited due to the sport on which it is based. Whichever way you look at it, there are only so many way you can fall through the sky.
Saying that, Gaijin Entertainment make a good go of keeping the concept as entertaining for as long as possible. With basic tricks and score bonuses for traveling close to the mountains below, Skydive offers up a solid and consistently enjoyable challenge based upon a well realised risk vs reward mechanic. Yes, you can only fly through so many rings before it starts to become a little stale, and yes, the trick system is basic, but there is something to be said for watching your adrenaline meter fill up as your squirrelly little daredevil scrapes dangerously close to the top of trees and the sides of mountains.
The adrenaline meter may only give you a momentary boost of speed, but when combined with a solid flight line, leads to an increase in momentum that not only feels exhilarating thanks to the impressive sense of speed and the sound effects that greet close encounters with the ground, but is also essential for those looking to attain 3 star performances on each of the 43 increasingly tricky missions.
While those 43 missions deliver the meat of the experience, I was surprised by just how enjoyable the AI races were, so much so, I came away a little disappointed by the fact that they weren’t made the core emphasis of the game. There are only 4 tracks in all, but thanks to a collection of impressive backdrops, ranging from the Amazon to the Grand Canyon, these lengthy races prove both visually impressive and consistently exhilarating. Chasing the coloured streams of AI opponents is much more fun than it sounds, and while the lack of online opponents is a huge loss, still delivers a brief, but nonetheless enjoyable distraction.
Unlockable characters add little and the few stars of the sport will be lost on all but the initiated, but despite there being nothing to differentiate one character from another and despite the mechanics remaining relatively basic throughout, Skydive: Proximity Flight has to go down as one of the more pleasant gaming surprises of 2014. It’s a shame that the brilliantly exciting AI races aren’t a little more fleshed out, but as a budget release, Skydive looks great, plays great and is certainly deserving of more attention than it will likely receive. I’m sure the mooted Oculus version will garner a little more interest upon release, but for console gamers out there, I implore you to give this surprisingly entertaining video game a spin.
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