Budapest-based Digital Reality is mostly known for Real Time Strategy games; things like Imperium Galactica or the science fiction take on World War II named War Front: Turning Point. So needless to say, I was a little intrigued when I heard they had two projects in the works, both flight titles, one being Sine Mora, the other being this game, Skydrift...
Skydrift isn’t a flight simulator, not even close. It’s a fast paced, high action plane racer. That’s right, and if that wasn’t enough to leave you scratching your head, it has items to boot. I’ll get this out of the way immediately, there will be a lot of parallels drawn between this game and Diddy Kong Racing, since one of the modes from that game is essentially exactly what Skydrift is. There are a few differences, but overall the experience feels very similar. It hearkens back to that timeless mantra, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
The game offers eight different planes to race with, although only two are available at the beginning and the rest are unlocked through winning races. There’s also three different modes to choose from, Easy, Normal and Hard. The story mode has eight different sets of challenges to choose from, with each race needing a different requirement to emerge victorious, whether it be a survival race where one by one, whoever is in last gets eliminated until one remains, or speed races where no items are found, but boost rings are everywhere. Even with all these different modes, the game begins to feel repetitive by the 3rd round, simply because there are only a half dozen maps to play in, and some of them are mirrored. At least the visuals aren’t boring as the game is actually quite stunning, with gorgeous graphics and a good soundtrack for an XBLA title.
Power ups are ultimately what will keep you coming back to the races though. The way the power ups work again is extremely similar to Diddy Kong Racing; pick up a power up and shoot it, or save it, get the same power up again to deliver even more damage. Where Skydrift differs however, is in the fact that you can hold up to two different power ups at once, and you can choose to “burn” them and add it to your boost gauge. This helps add strategy in key moments, whether you decide to risk shooting your opponent out of the sky or just rocketing past him.
SkyDrift is the one of the best racing games you can find on XBLA, bar none. It performs great, and is honestly just hours of fun.. Each plane has it’s own feel to it, weight and manoeuvrability. My biggest complaint is the invisible walls restricting my freedom of flight at times, or other at times I’ll see the distance I need to go to, yet I’m still greeted with an invisible wall, since I’m expected to go around the basin before going into the cave. I was never able to find any matchups on Live though, which is a shame. The game offers up a decent challenge, and is easily worth the 1200 points.
Release date : 2011-09-13
Publisher : Digital Reality
Developer : Digital Reality
Gameplay : Racing
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