Skydive: Proximity Flight PS3 Review

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I suppose with 2012’s biggest games, such as Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Far Cry 3, showcasing the fun of wingsuits, the interest in the extreme sports craze that involves jumping off huge cliffs and using a wingsuit to glide through the air like a flying squirrel would inevitably lead to someone developing a title that focuses on the wingsuit. Skydive: Proximity Flight by Gaijin Entertainment (War Thunder, X-Blades), has brought us just that, but unlike other extreme sports represented in the video game world, Skydive: Proximity Flight has issues that doesn’t let it soar through the high skies it aims for.

Players are greeted with a rather basic menu, which lies on top of a video presenting the thrilling adventures of the sport. The best place for a newcomer to start is the Challenge area, a group of tasks that begin with simply soaring through rings that demonstrate fly routes for the game’s eight locations, featuring areas such as the Grand Canyon and Halong bay, to pulling off specific stunts close to a terrain’s surface.

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Challenge serves as a training room to accustom to the controls, but about half way through its content the Challenge mode begins to live up to its name, as it transforms into tasks that will push anyone who hasn’t paid attention. I spent ages trying to fly 9 kilometres, slowly figuring out that if you stay close to the surface of the cliffs, rather than going out to sea, you build up adrenaline metre, a mechanic that lets you boost forward for a small amount of time, allowing the player to gradually build up the gliding distance. There was certainly no steadily increase to this bump in difficulty. It was more like running into a wall for 30 minutes after speeding at 70mph on a motorway, a spike that will no doubt hit quite a few people hard.

There are three control options in Skydive: Proximity Flight, and, while the inclusions of Move and Sixaxis controls are nice to play with for a pleasant glide through the clean mountain air, they don’t do well for the more complex demands the game wants from you in the challenges. Motion controls don’t come off accurate enough, so I ended up preferring the good old DualShock 3. It’s a rather simple game to play when you’re not fighting the accuracy of motion controls.

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The left stick is used to move through the air, while pressing directions along with holding the X button down will perform tricks. The triggers activate adrenaline and triangle switches the camera angles between first-person, right or left leg camera and third-person, with the latter being the best view, but switching positions to first-person does offer a better sense of speed. This is a game that I can imagine would feel amazing if played with the Oculus Rift. Once you’ve finished with your descent, you need to press square to release the parachute to get a successful landing. Although, it’s weird, because you can press square again to skip the landing and get the accumulated points, but then miss out bonus points for landing in a designated area. It’s clear the game is more time attack than scoring in the challenge mode.

Two other gameplay modes sit outside of the main Challenge section.  One is Freestyle mode, which offers players the chance to pick the course, a starting point, weather and time of day, and then aim to create a score for your PlayStation 3 friends to beat. It’s like a practice mode where you can do what you like on any of the game’s courses. This is the best place to have some fun with the motion controls.

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Race is the other mode available, which I fully enjoyed. It’s you and three other racers that have to make it down the mountain to the finish line as fast as possible. It’s a tonne of fun and very thrilling when you’re diving down at extreme speeds, pulling off tricks to get the adrenaline boost metre to push into first place. I actually found the race events to be the best part of the game, which in reality ends up depressing, because there are only four race events to do – it’s incredibly barebones.  I wouldn’t mind a game that took this concept and fleshed it out into a full game, because it has potential to be a crazy mixture of a flying racing game along with mixing it up with exciting locales to dive and soar around.

There really isn’t much on offer to keep you with the game once you’ve finished its challenges. There’s some variables on each character that change their speed and weight, and there are some amusing inclusions, such as a girl dressed in a flying squirrel suit (the best costume) and a gliding vampire, but there is nothing exciting to unlock. Like I mentioned about the racing, most modes need more content to keep it going, because while this virtual take on wingsuits is fresh, there isn’t enough to hold your attention for long.

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Skydive: Proximity Flight is showered in lush locales that set up for some beautiful scenes, such as diving past waterfalls, and the long draw-distance means you can see far into the horizon. The environments feel like the stars of the game, but you can only ogle at nice graphics for so long before getting bored with the lack of content.  The soundtrack is repetitive with its rock music, and it doesn’t transition songs when you change events, so you’re left listening to some of the most generic tunes, but you can always enjoy the calm of the air or the rush of wind brushing past you by turning off the music and listening to the atmospheric sounds of the environment. Although there oddly doesn’t seem to be a rumble feature, this is a game that could benefit from simulating the rush of wind blowing against you.

Jumping into a wingsuit in Skydive: Proximity Flight is fun and different at first, but after playing an hour or so, it becomes apparent that there isn’t much else going on with the game.  It needs more fleshing out, especially the race mode, as that has so much potential to become an awesome piece of adrenaline filled racing. In the end, there are things about Skydive: Proximity Flight to enjoy, but with limited modes, some tedious challenges and no multiplayer to speak of, Skydive: Proximity Flight is a game that, unlike taking part in the sport for the first time, will be living in the moment, but soon forgotten.

6/10

by

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Version tested: PS3

Also available on: Xbox 360

Developer: Gaijin Entertainment

Publisher: Gaijin Entertainment

Genre: Extreme sports