Skydive: Proximity Flight is a cool concept that works fine, but is a very difficult sell.
Skydive: Proximity Flight is a "difficult" game to review. It's kinda unique, maybe a first of its kind, but I can be totally wrong. The premise of the game is easy, its a wingsuit skydiving (flying squirrel) simulator. Since it's the first time, at least for me to play something like this, I can't really compare it to other games with the same premise. So don't expect something like that in this review. Instead I am going to answer three questions which I think can give you an idea for the game... onto the review.
Is it of fun? Yes.
Does it "work"? Yes.
Does it has flaws? Unfortunately yes.
I said it's fun because I really enjoyed the time I spent with it. There are three modes in the game: Challenges, Adrenaline Race and Freestyle. Now by their names you can clearly guess what mode does what but I will dive into some details. The Challenge mode is separated into 4 categories: Routes, Basic Tricks, Advanced Challenges and Extra Challenges. There are a total of 43 challenges and you select an unlocked challenge from the menu that works really similarly like a that of a mobile game, think Angry Birds or every other level based game. The tasks in the challenges can be from the basic ones like: "Go through X number of rings" to tough ones like "Perform 10 chained tricks while diving in proximity to the ground". Once you complete a challenge you get rated with stars on how you did. These stars unlock the next level and so on.
In Adrenaline Race you race against three other AI controlled skydivers and you have to win the unlock the next one. Something new that isn't present in the Challenges is the "rewind the time" mechanic which could be triggered at any time without cost. For example if you hit a rock or a tree or missed going through the desired path, you can trigger the ability and make it right. And then there is Freestyle in which you are free to fly wherever you want. I have to say that it was fun flying through the rings and executing tricks while flying 10 feet above the ground, but it also had its problems which I will talk more while describing the third answer.
Now onto the other question and answer, yes it does work. At the start of each level, the character you choose stands on top of a platform or rock or whatever ready to jump at your command. There are 14 different character to choose from. 11 of them are "fake" with names like Dracula, Nosferatu, Spirit etc. but the other 3, maybe just maybe, are real life professional skydivers. Each one of them have different stats in three different categories: Weight, Speed and Maneuverability. Now most of the time I was playing I didn't find any difference between them, but in some challenges where Maneuverability was needed the most to make quick adjustments, the stats system really made sense. Dracula was my go-to guy with the best Maneuverability stats and OK Speed and Weight.
Once he or she jumps you get to control him or her while flying in a third person perspective using the built-in Six Axis accelorometer feature of the Dualshock 3 and it works. For now Skydive: Proximity Flight is a PS3 exclusive game which can also be played using the Move tech, but since I don't have one I can't talk or comment about. Pitch Up, dive and going left or right are achieved by tilting the controller in the specific direction. This is what made the game fun for me, the use of six axis makes totally sense in a game like this and as I said its very responsive. From time to time, the tracking was lost cause I tilted the controller too much, but I was able to get it back in an instant, so it wasn't much of a problem. You can also execute tricks like a barrel roll or forward/backward flip by tilting the controller and pressing X to earn more points and to fill the Adrenaline bar which gives you boost much like NOS in NFS.
Hmmn..."Need for Speed" it kinda summarize the whole skydiving thing. I love to watch videos on Youtube of people skydiving using a wingsuit cause they are amazing and I only can imagine the thrill of doing something like that. Flying ten feet above ground at a stupid speed... man, it gives me the chills. So does Skydive: Proximity Flight capture or give even a tiny bit of that excitement? Well, in part. I say in part because if you glide in the game 100 or 200 feet above ground it's boring, but if you are really close to the ground things change. The game suddenly feels faster, the wind sound effect becomes stronger and the sense of danger is bigger meaning that you might hit a tree or a rock at 100 miles an hour and the sense of achievement if you manage to successfully fly over these obstacles is great.
Now onto the bad stuff or flaws the game has. It's biggest flaw, in my opinion, is it's lasting appeal. Don't get me wrong the game has content, 3 or maybe even more hours of it, but you see everything in like 5 minutes. Yes the environments change and the challenges change, but since the variety number is really small, everything gets old really quickly. You do the same two/three things, over and over again, and that isn't worth 20 Euros. There isn't enough gameplay to justify that. As I said I completed and saw everything in like 3 hours. Maybe if there was an online mode, where I could race or just freestyle with my friends, maybe I don't know. Or if the devs would have added "secret" content like cool looking maps or content like diving jumping of buildings like Eiffel Tower or maybe even something crazier like freefall from space while avoiding asteroids... I don't know something interesting. They have a cool engine and they could have crafted some interesting levels or mechanics, but there's nothing like it in the game. Another problem are a part of the physics like parachuting which is totally broken and the "collide system" which doesn't make any sense. If you hit an object at 100 miles an hour, the character would just bounce of it like nothing ever happened...lame. Also the scoring engine doesn't make any sense for example: during Routes challenges where you have to go through rings to complete the challenge, in the level there are always more than enough rings and the game wants you to go through those bonus ring, but somehow you get penalized in your score at the end of the level...lame.
Presentation wise the game does OK. The character models and the physics of the wingsuit cloth look realistic and the environment look fine with vibrant colors. There is some texture pop-in here and there, but the frame rate remains steady most of the time. Music gets annoying really quickly since there is only one song that plays over and over in the background. The UI is easy to understand and use, but it's ugly and outdated with bold yellow fonts etc.
So to summarize, Skydive: Proximity Flight is a cool concept that works fine, but is a very difficult sell. There isn't enough content to justify the price and when you play it, it feels like an activity you can do in GTAV. You see everything the game has to offer in 5 minutes, so before you even consider buying it, download the demo or trial. Thanks for reading!
Skydive: Proximity Flight was reviewed on a PS3 using a promo code provided by Gaijin Entertainment. Skydive: Proximity Flight is now available for PS3