Review: Skydive: Proximity Flight (PS3)

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Title: Skydive: Proximity Flight
Format: PlayStation Network Download (744 MB)
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Gaijin Entertainment
Developer: Gaijin Entertainment
Original MSRP: $19.99
ESRB Rating:
Skydive: Proximity Flight is currently exclusive to PlayStation Network. It will be releasing on other platforms but as of this review, nothing has been announced.

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 339 of the podcast.

Gameplay:
Okay, so let me get this out of the way right up front, this game is technically not about skydiving, but rather wingsuit flying. While it’s still a form of skydiving, the techniques and skill required to do this (without killing yourself) are considerably more advanced than simple freefall.

Wingsuit flying involves putting on a special jumpsuit that has extra fabric connecting your arms to your torso and connecting both legs together. This give you extra lift allowing you to glide for longer distances before having to pull your ripcord. It’s incredibly dangerous because, for many, the thrill of it comes from gliding down the side of a mountain as close to the ground as possible. Misjudge the gradient of the down-slope and you can slam into the ground at more than 120 miles per hour.

In order to get the feel of this controlled chaos just right, the developers at Gaijin Entertainment enlisted the help of three of the world’s premiere wingsuit flyers, Jokke Sommer, Andrey Boldyrev and Halvor Angvik. That collaboration paid off in a big way.

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The game uses motion controls exclusively, so with your DualShock, you’ll be using the Sixaxis functionality. If you have two Move controllers, you can use those instead. Now, a game like this would be a nightmare if the controls didn’t work, but Gaijin obviously spent a lot of time perfecting things and both control schemes work beautifully. The Sixaxis is definitely easier as it feels very tight and responsive. Using the Move controllers adds a layer of complexity as you’ll need to position your hands down at your sides at an angle to mimic what you’re seeing on screen and then make adjustments and other sweeping movements from there. It’s definitely more difficult, but a worthwhile challenge that brings you just a little bit closer to the reality of wingsuit flying.

The game is broken down into a few different sections, the first being Challenges. Here you’ll be tasked with flying through a series of glowing rings all while doing stunts to increase your score. Stunts are performed by holding the X button while twisting and moving the controller. If you get into trouble, you can hold down the circle button to rewind time a bit, allowing you to try a different path. It’s a helpful addition, taking the frustration factor down a notch for people having trouble getting used to the controls.

You’ll need to build up your Adrenaline by flying as close to the ground as possible. You can the use this to pull your arms and legs tight to your body, increasing your speed. This becomes critical in the Adrenaline Races. These races pit you against three AI players as your ultimate goal is to make it to the bottom of the mountain first. While there’s a general direction you need to go in, there’s plenty of leeway allowing you to veer between the rocks, under bridges and into canyons, all looking for the perfect line. These are definitely a tougher challenge and will test your skills as the AI doesn’t hold back.

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The other mode is Freefall, which gives you the opportunity to choose you location, time of day and so on. You then have clear skies to practice and try out tricks and techniques. If you have a particularly good run, you can upload it as a challenge to your Friends list.

Every run can also be saved as a video replay, giving you the opportunity to show off your best (and worst) moments. With fifteen skydivers to choose from, some of them locked initially, you’ll have some good variety. Each has their own variations in weight, speed and maneuverability which really affects how the game plays, plus: Flying Squirrel yo!

Visuals:
Probably the strongest part of the game, it just looks fantastic. The lighting is excellent, making each environment, forested hills, rocky canyons, snow covered mountains, etc. feel nearly real. The cool thing is being able to select the weather, giving each of the areas a different feel.

Besides how good the environments look, Gaijin has really nailed the skydivers in their wingsuits. When standing on the cliff before you jump, the wingsuit itself will move gently with the breeze. Motion blur is used effectively when gliding to give a real sense of speed and your skydiver will move their body in realistic motions accurate to what they’re trying to accomplish except when landing. Bringing your character in for a landing once the parachute is deployed was so much of an afterthought that there’s an option to skip it entirely. It’s a shame because that would have only added to the fun of it all (for me anyway). Other than that minor quibble, it’s all very impressive.

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Audio:
Gaijin uses some clever audio tricks to bring this game to life. When skydiving in real life, you’ll typically be hearing the roar of the wind throughout your freefall. While that sound doesn’t change with the orientation of your head and body as it would in real life, Skydive: Proximity Flight reserves that for when you fly closer to the ground, giving you a nice audio cue to let you know where you are.

The music is very limited but surprisingly not grating or annoying. It would have been great to have custom soundtracks in a game like this but sadly, they’re not available.

Online/Multiplayer:
There’s no specific multiplayer component to the game, but the PlayStation Network is used to save your high scores and set Challenges for friends.

Conclusion:
Skydive: Proximity Flight is a surprisingly strong game tempered by the fact that it focuses exclusively on the flight itself while almost completely ignoring one of the most important parts, the landing. They do a great job giving you the sensation of gliding along, barely above the treetops at 120 miles per hour.

True multiplayer could have made a big difference in this game and it definitely would have made the $20 price point easier to swallow, but skydiving games are few and far between and while this is an extreme variation on traditional skydiving, it’s actually a lot of fun which is what really counts.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Roxio Game Capture HD Pro screen capture feature.

Check out some actual wingsuit flying with Jokke Sommer:

Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 18 consoles and 4 handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation.

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