SkyDrift

The Fast And The Furious: SkyDrift

Take a little bit of Crimson Skies and a whole lot of WipEout and there you have it.
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: September 17, 2011
Every once in a while (like every Tuesday) a game sneaks onto the PSN with little to no fanfare and almost everyone glosses over it. To be honest, if someone didn't send us a review code, we'd probably miss a lot of those titles ourselves. I'm not sure anyone out there has ever heard of SkyDrift from Digital Reality, and that is kind of a shame. It's a damn fun little title that would be helped immeasurably by online play, which is actually does feature, but which is decidedly not very populated. So what is it? Should you get it? Well, see for yourself.


SkyDrift is a fast-paced racer that trades in exciting weaponized power-ups like missiles, machine guns, shockwaves and mines. Sounds a lot like WipEout, right? Well, the catch here is that instead of being bound to the ground, this time you are in a variety of souped-up historic aircraft that allow for movement on a whole other plane. (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?) While the environments give the appearance offing wide open, they are in fact constrained by invisible boundaries that keep you on a set path (helpfully marked by giant arrows guiding you) and have more of a racetrack feel.

The three main modes of racing are Power Race, Speed Race and Survivor. Power Race is a standard race featuring a course littered with the half-dozen or so powerups, and you can hold two at any one time. Pick up a second copy of a powerup you already have, and it turns into an upgraded version. You also have a limited amount of afterburner that can be recharged by performing stunts (barrel rolls and the like that are performed by using the two analog sticks in various combinations), flying close to the ground, or absorbing collected powerups. Speed Race replaces the powerups with rings that provide a sped boost when you fly through, and Survivor is like Power Race, only every minute or so the lat place racer is eliminated until only one remains.

As you progress through the SP Campaign, you'll square off against seven AI foes in each of those mode over the course of seven levels of four to six races. You must get bronze or better to unlock more levels, but that isn't too much of a challenge in general, although some of the later courses get a little rough. Doing well and getting various kills and stunts will unlock badges and medals, as well as new skins and new planes. Planes have 5 stats that have ratings of one to five stars in Speed, Boost Power, Acceleration, Maneuverability and Armor. It's all pretty straight forward.

Online is the same game, only racing against humans instead of AI. I imagine it would be great fun and really frantic, since the game is so fast paced, but in my attempts to join a game I was met with silence. I'm sure enough time spent trying would eventually get me into a game, but ideally you'd have a few friends who'd hop on with you. I can't fault the designers for the lack of opponents, and I think it is a little sad that there isn't more activity in a game that just came out this week, but thankfully they DID include plenty of single player content.

The game looks quite pretty, with the planes having good detail when you can get one to sit still long enough to focus on it, and the environments are really pleasing to look at. Every level has lots of alternate paths and plenty of narrow gaps to fly into, around and over, especially the ones that take place in oil rigs and canyons. The game is fast enough that you might feel a little out of control at times, and you'll smash into stuff quite a bit, exploding instantly, but thankfully the game also instantly respawns you, so all you lose is a little momentum. It's nice and forgiving that way, which is much appreciated.

Should you play SkyDrift? Yes, you probably should. Because I need someone to play with! What are you waiting for? Go get it!
The Verdict
8.0

SkyDrift fell out of nowhere to surprise us with solid gameplay and a nice sense of speed. Sure, it could have used a bit more combat, but it is a racing game at heart, and a decent WipEout knock-off. Definitely worth a look.

8.5Graphics:

It's pretty pretty for a little downloadable game. Bright and colorful, with fun paint schemes and environmental textures that aren't too shabby.

7.5Sound:

It sounds pretty good. Planes make plane noises, powerups make powerup noises. There may or may not be music.

9.0Control:

I like the dual analog controls for fancy turns and stunts, and the planes felt very responsive and buttons were laid out well.

8.5Gameplay:

A good amount of levels to play around in, even if there aren't that many modes. The single player doesn't have a much replay value other than trying for gold in all the stages, but the MP is the sort of thing that would remain fun if anyone was playing.