Racing Aeroplanes Over The Sea: SkyDrift

By Adam Smith on December 1st, 2011 at 11:14 am.

But for now we are young, let us lay in the sun, and count every beautiful thing we can see

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.

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30 Comments »

  1. dreadguacamole says:

    I’ll be very dissapointed if I can’t choose a two-headed boy as one of the pilots.

    • hymnharmonia says:

      Only on the Holland, 1945 map.

    • godgoo says:

      No, but the Communist’s Daughter is available.

    • Shadowcat says:

      godgoo: One of the developers stated clearly in an earlier video that SkyDrift is a eunuch racing game, so I don’t think the Communist’s Daughter will be an option.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      I’m pretty sure this is like their 4th Neutral Milk Hotel reference so far this year. Do you think they’ll be able to fit in a 5th before the year is out?

  2. DaftPunk says:

    Looks like fun.

  3. davidek says:

    But do you control it like a plane? It looks like any other racing game with added vertical adjustments.

  4. Quasar says:

    So, kinda like a new Plane Crazy? I loved that when I was younger :D

    • jimbonbon says:

      YES. Thank you for reminding me of the name I was trying to remember – I played a lot of that game!

  5. Tusque D'Ivoire says:

    You can’t really be implying that car racing games are better than plane racing games? planes are like cars, but in the air! maybe you CAN nudge the other planes off the track and spinning out of control.

    A preposterous assumption!

    • Adam Smith says:

      A plane racing game with extensive damage modelling and high speed shunting and ramming would be utterly ludicrous and absolutely wonderful. SkyDrift isn’t that game, but it isn’t pretending to be either. It’s definitely happy in itself being sky-karts rather than Planepocalypse. Which is a terrible name I wish I hadn’t invented.

    • westyfield says:

      Star Wars: Racer Revenge is the best of both worlds. All the nudgy crashy explodey fun of racing games, but with the awesome sense of speed and zoom zoom that flying games bring.
      This is a game where you are told that the way to win is to push everyone else into stuff until they explode!

    • Shadowcat says:

      ‘Airpocalypse’, on the other hand, would be a great name!

    • fearian says:

      Actually, Aero Thunder is an amazing name: http://goo.gl/K7KsA

    • Snuffy the Evil says:

      There are a couple of groups that do air racing for IL-2 Sturmovik, which is great fun despite most of them discourage deliberate ramming and guns.

      Of course, there are also people who do the much less sensible but much more thrilling variant.

  6. jezcentral says:

    It’s a pity Dark Water Studios didn’t something similar with DogFighter. That was a cracking game.

  7. pkt-zer0 says:

    I’m going to remind people once again that these are the folks who made Imperium Galactica (kind of like Master of Orion) and Haegemonia (kind of like Homeworld). Can we have more of that, please? There’s a PC gaming revival going on right now, or whatever.

  8. max pain says:

    We have alt-alt-texts now?

    • westyfield says:

      Since like 2008, yeah.

    • Magnetude says:

      Alt text was great before everyone found out about it and the images got overmoused.

    • max pain says:

      It’s edited now. Before the image had no alt-text, but had a link to the page itself, but with added caption at the end. Something about that cepelin advertising the game itself.

    • Adam Smith says:

      Almost as if I accidentally inserted a wonky link and changed the alt-text when I noticed because I wanted to encourage further Neutral Milk Hotel singalongs.

      Almost.

    • Magnetude says:

      Oh, I thought he was referring to the ‘alternative’ nature of the alt-text.

    • Tams80 says:

      @ Magnetude

      Repetition of word directly after itself. It catches out loads of people.

  9. BarneyL says:

    Remember you’ll have to pay an extra £1.29 to get DLC with the best three planes if you want to be competative in multiplayer.
    I wonder how long before there’s more DLC with even better planes you’re forced to buy to keep up.

  10. Vinraith says:

    Neat game, but no AI in MP, and no way to start an MP game with less than 8 players, so it’s functionally SP-only inside of a month or so. There’s also no way to set up an event with just friends, unless you happen to have 7 of them online at a given moment.

  11. fearian says:

    For a Design and Development Class at uni, me and some friends had to make a pitch for our made-up-on-the-spot game, Aero Thunder in about 30 minutes. We won best in class pretty much entirely for making this two second animation during other peoples presentations:

    http://goo.gl/K7KsA

    AND NOW SOME BASTARDS STEAL OUR IDEA WELL I NEVER.

  12. quaunaut says:

    Seriously? You liken this to Mario Kart over Diddy Kong Racing?

  13. alilsneaky says:

    I hate kart racers with a passion, I figured it was one from looking at gameplay trailers, thanks for the confirmation!

    At least on rps I can usually find the info I’m after.

  14. Chizu says:

    I picked this up just after it came out, theres not a whole lot of people playing it, but a couple of groups have been set up to help you find games, and the UK one does a little weekend get together thing.


    Some gameplay I recorded last weekend or our last race.
    (Which youtube has corrupted all over the place, yay)
    Games alot more fun online with real people shooting rockets at you all day.

    It’s also worth noting the speed race mode is also fun, and alot faster.
    No weapons in that mode, but boost rings all over the place, which get you fast enough to cause sonic booms, and some pretty hairy moments as you try to navigate tight areas at a much higher speed than you would be going in the normal race modes.