I want you to try and picture a couple of things if possible. Imagine if you took the flying aspects of Diddy Kong Racing and expanded them into a fully fledged game. Ponder upon the possibility of crossing Blur with Afterburner. Mull over the madcap mayhem that would emerge if you took Mario and his go-karts and strapped wings to them.
You should hopefully have the mental image of an arcade, action-packed aerial racer in your head and, if that is the case, there's a strong chance it might just resemble SkyDrift.
Developed in-house at Digital Reality, SkyDrift resembles a fitting project for the Hungarian outfit with the development team admittedly 'obsessed with' arcade competition in gaming. You take control of one of eight modern planes, racing against the AI or online over Xbox LIVE, Steam or PSN and the basic idea behind the gameplay is that if you can't overtake the guys in front of you, you should probably shoot them down instead.
Digital Reality stated that they wanted the planes and their handling to be perched somewhere between arcade and simulation, but from the looks of things this is a game that seems to be fully embracing the former rather than the latter...and we certainly don't have any problem with that.
Lead Designer, Tibor Pongrácz, suggests that the core team, consisting of sixty-four names across divisions of Design, Code, Technology /Tools, Art, QA, Testing and Board, wanted to test themselves outside of their comfort zone. 'The actual development of the game was preceded by extensive research, and contact with game industry veterans. The whole team thrives on new challenges, and we hadn’t encountered anything like this before. We wanted to make something new, something special.'
The game looks absolutely gorgeous, speedy and vibrant, in fully rendered 3D courses. The draw distance, considering this is a marketplace arcade, are absolutely stunning, the vistas breathtaking. There will be 33 events to race through, spanning three main locales: the Grand Canyon, Hawaii, and Alaska.
I think control is the biggest innovation of our game, with which we managed to bring arcade and simulation games closer together, this way bringing to console players the unforgettable experience of flying near the ground at extremely high speeds.
There are hardly any plane games available on the game market where the track bends in real 3D, this, too, is an innovation. The detailed and elaborate graphics of our game are unique on the Live / PSN market, and luckily we had a lot of time to tune the game modes, tracks and multiplayer modes and the code serving them. Thanks to this, there are many little specialties in the game that might not seem like big things at first glance, but for example server migration is a really player friendly feature enabling smooth game play even if any of the players leave the Lobby for some reason. - Tibor Pongrácz, Digital Reality
Powerups to increase your speed, arm you with missiles and other special weapons abound and the demo I was shown exhibited a large amount of sheer carnage as well as breakneck racing. The Canyon levels showed off some alternate routes, offering players an element of choice in amongst the mayhem. We were itching to get hands-on, but alas there was no time.
There'll be a whole bunch of multiplayer modes from straight races to battle modes, and we'll certainly be flinging ourselves wholeheartedly into the game when it drops at the start of next month. But if there is a slight problem on the horizon it's that games like these lend themselves exceptionally well to split-screen local multiplayer and Digital Reality confirmed that SkyDrift will not offer this, with races against fellow humans conducted exclusively across online services. It's a shame really because the game looks like it's going to tick all of the right boxes elsewhere.
SkyDrift launches in a handful of weeks on September 7th on XBLA, PSN and PC for 1200 Microsoft Points/$14.99.