For those craving arcade, air-combat racing on their consoles, the upcoming game by Digital Reality entitled SkyDrift could be the game for you. We had a chance to sample this PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade game prior to its release and found that flying the unfriendly skies has its perks.
SkyDrift is what you'd expect: a flight combat racer that pits you against other daredevil pilots in various locales, ranging from ice-filled caverns to lush forests. In typical arcade-racing-genre fashion, you'll be able to collect power-ups and have to perform quick reaction maneuvers to dominate the skies. Controls were extremely easy to pick up, especially if you are familiar with air vehicular racers. At the same time, even without much familiarity, the control scheme is far from challenging, and just about anyone can grab a controller and begin to fly with little difficulty.
Power-ups vary in a number of different ways. Not only are there your fair share of offensive and defensive pick-ups that can be used, but all of them can also be upgraded to make them more powerful or transferred to assist in your boost meter. Additionally, depending on your position in a given race, the amount of boost you receive varies. If you are in the lead, you'll only earn a small amount, but if you're behind the pack, then a large boost increase is given. It's an interesting way of dealing with rubber-banding; it will be fascinating to see how this pans out online.
Race structures are pretty standard early in the game. The environments offer some minor deviations, but for the most part, the courses are straightforward and easy to navigate. Yes, there are situations where a tight turn or narrow crevice will come your way, but with smart throttling and fast motions of the analog sticks to adjust your plane, avoiding a collision shouldn't be a problem. At the same time, you will crash or have your plane shot down by foes, but thankfully, even if you spill a few times during a race, you should still be able to finish in a strong position.
In addition to power races, which act as your standard race, there will be other race types, including Speed Races, which are all about being the fastest, and Survivor, which eliminates the slowest plane until one remains. Race types like these are nothing that seasoned racings fan haven't seen before in other similar games.
After getting a handful of flights under our wing, we found SkyDrift to be shaping up quite nicely. We didn't have much of an opportunity to go deep with the multiplayer, but it is certainly where the focus is being felt and racing full grids against human pilots should be quite competitive. Expect a full review sometime in September once the game hits both the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade.