I’m the kind of person who will eat the third Shredded Wheat…
The kind who will happily eat chocolate before swimming and, in my old age I may well wear socks with sandals.
All pretty extreme I’m sure you’ll agree, but one thing I’ll never do – as thrilling as it looks on YouTube – is throw myself from a great height with a ‘wingsuit’ on, and thanks to Gaijin Entertainments Skydive: Proximity Flight, I’ll never need to.
Prior to being offered a review code I hadn’t heard of Skydive, which is pretty surprising given the relative success of Dejobaan’s AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity. A title that, for what it’s worth, would be much more appropriate for a game like this.
Currently only available on PlayStation 3 as a digital download, Skydive offers the player the chance to throw themselves down cliff faces across several different locales, ranging from the ragged, red-rocked Grand Canyon to the idyllic, blue-watered Ha Long Bay, the snow-peaked mountains of Switzerland, the beautiful hillsides of Italy and more. In total there are eight locations in the game with the four mentioned each offering eight different starting points, all of which can be played at different times of day and in various weather conditions.
Skydive is quite straightforward in its approach, a press of the [X] button initiates your tricks (barrel-rolls, back and forward flips), while [square] opens the parachute and the triggers a speed boosting shot of adrenaline. It couldn’t really be any simpler, and it’s all the better for it because the more focus that can be places on the action in game, the better, and you’ll need it.
High scores are earned from flying as close to objects as possible, from barrel-rolling across cliff faces to diving down through tiny pinholes into the dark canyons below.
The speed is breakneck; you’ll miss trees, cliff edges and rock formations by mere inches, you’ll find yourself holding your breath and hitting Zen-like moments where your hands just take over. At times the action resembles something between Burnout’s traffic-dodging and the trick-linking of SSX.
Skydive offers a small handful of different modes, all playable as soon as you start the game, although you main body of the game takes place in the form of challenges. These range from the reasonably simple tasks of flying through a number of rings to a time limit with a reward of up to three stars, to more fiendishly difficult challenges such as scoring over 2,500,000 points in a single run or fly for 9km.
Race mode is too short, it features only four races and only once the race is passed can you progress onto the next. These are pure adrenaline-fuelled, high-speed downhill descents, though I found I had to unlock the fastest of the playable characters to win. Thankfully it’s not limited to AI play, and Skydive features a leaderboard system allowing you to compete against both the best in the world and your friends’ ghosts.
Lastly you have the freestyle section, a chance to play however you want, picking any starting point and trying to get on the leader boards. The disappointing part of it all is it feels like this should have been the real meat of the game rather than the challenges, but a score of only 300,000 is enough to fully pass each stage, regardless of difficulty in reaching it, limits the feeling of requirement for several runs, especially if you don’t have several friends on the leaderboard. An opportunity missed.
Thankfully for all the mistakes you’ll make by pushing it just a little too far it does what any pick up and play game should do, and that’s offer the player instant restarts. Quick loads offer you the chance to push that little bit harder in the same way you’re willing to try and get that extra back-flip in Trials or make that risky jump in one rather than two in Super Meat Boy. Come a cropper on a cliff face? No problem, you’re back in the air in a couple of seconds.
Skydive doesn’t get everything right: The music is about as generic rock as you’re ever likely to hear – I’d muted it within 30 minutes. The controls default to Six-Axis which, for me, isn’t the way to play it. This also gives the impression that Skydive doesn’t feel like a natural PS3 title as that could all quite easily be done with touch controls on mobile, tablet or PS Vita.
But the hardest pill to swallow is the price, for £15.99 there is undoubtedly a lack of content, it wouldn’t have been hard to implement even a little bit of story between the characters in modes and the most thrilling of the modes, racing, is limited to a paltry four events.
Skydive markets itself as a retail release with a full 50 Trophies, but would have been much more attractive as a Cross-Buy PS3 and Vita title at half the price. However, if you do like easily re-playable, fast-paced challenges and throwing yourself off cliffs then there’s definitely enough enjoyment to be had in Skydive: Proximity Flight.
Perhaps more exciting is the upcoming Oculus Rift compatible, PC version which all but guarantees several brown-trouser moments to go with those eye-melting speeds. Now that is a game I want to play.