By Adam Smith on December 1st, 2011 at 11:14 am.
SkyDrift is Burnout with Mario Kart powerups, or Pilotwings with more racing and shooting. The fact that it’s about planes rather than cars does take away the possibility of nudging competitors into oncoming traffic or sending them spinning out of control, which is disappointing. Powerups take the place of collisions and although shooting opponents down with missiles hardly seems sporting, no one seems to mind. Perhaps it’s because the settings are so idyllic and tranquil. There’s a demo available on Steam, which I took for a quick test flight. Thoughts follow, like a bogey on your six.
SkyDrift is a game that makes the racing and rupturing of planes seem like a sedate pursuit, which does make the Burnout comparison slightly less than apt, but the boost meter and encouragement of dangerous flying is straight out of Criterion’s book. I’ve quite enjoyed my time with the demo, although I’m craving a greater sense of speed and impact. It’s enjoyable though, with a certain pleasure to be gained from the simple act of piloting your crate through tight gaps and dodging and weaving through the terrain.
The stylised, postcard-like locations and gentle pace are the things that make this feel more like a kart racer than a plane racer. Flying a plane between outcropping rocks, wings cut to a vertical line, should feel dangerous, as should skimming the ground to throw off missiles or gather boost, but the controls are so perfectly tuned that the sense of flight is never really there, just as bouncy little karts never really give an impression of driving on an actual surface. I don’t know what the plane equivalent of a kart is, but Digital Reality have captured it.
If any of that sounds appealing, the demo is definitely worth a shot. There’s enough of a feel for the game to get a good idea its merits, I reckon.