Over this generation, a handful of games have provided us with a taste of parachuting, skydiving, and plummeting towards the terra, but Gaijin Entertainment have taken it a step further and produced Skydive: Proximity Flight for the PS3 as the quintessential skydiving experience on consoles. But should we get strapped up in our gear and parachutes, or should we step away from the ledge Skydive is offering to leap from?
Skydive promises “total freedom and a heart-pulsing adrenaline rush that comes from the hazardous extreme sport of base jumping without having to physically experience the potential dangers associated with leaping off high places and seeing the earth hurling toward you at a 120 miles per hour.” It certainly tries to do so, and having the option to use the PlayStation Move controller could add to the sensation, though there’s really no sense of extreme speed or rush as you fall. There’s little skill required to navigate most of the courses, but they’re truly a sight to behold. The vistas are beautiful and do encourage you to try different routes to see it all, but you’re still mostly limited to a “track” of sorts. If you wish to gain the highest score and extend your freefall, it’s best not to stray from the preferred path they guide you upon.
There’s certainly depth to Skydive, as there are a bevy of routes, trick challenges, and advanced challenges to try as one of 14 characters, even one that’s called “Dracula.” Yes, in Skydive: Proximity Flight, you can soar and fall over mountains and crevices as Dracula, lord of the night. It’s nice to see a sense of humor in games like this, especially since it’s a PSN-only title; the developers clearly poured care and humor into their creation. Regrettably, there’s not much to keep some coming back past a weekend. Most of the four available modes are simplistic enough to breeze through and not return to, though the freestyle and challenge modes could be spent passing the controller to and from friends.
If you opt to use a controller rather than the Move setup, definitely give both control options a shot. You can try controls using the SixAxis, or continue your descent with the left stick, but either choice is apt. We found slightly better control under the left stick option, but those more comfortable with the SixAxis may find better success with it. We’re unable to try the Move possibility, but it’s safe to say it’s likely an appropriate and working preference for those that would like to try it. The controls are tight and offer a small learning curve, but nothing you won’t acclimate to after your first few jumps. Performing tricks is easy enough, if not a bit much. After you’ve performed your 50th consecutive barrel roll off the Swiss Alps, you’ll soon wonder why you haven’t already pulled your chute.
It’s really a bummer that the music, although fitting for the sport and game, is so lackluster. You’re treated with raucous, generic rock music that fails to stand out. We’re not asking for licensed tracks or anything, but something to help the rush be washed over us would be nice. Throw some electronica, some dubstep, some no-nonsense heavy noise that’s not only thrilling, but catchy, something that makes us want to re-ascend the peaks and jump, again and again and again. 2012’s SSX was a brilliant example of use of proper, fitting music for an extreme sport. Skydive’s attempt falls flat on its face as soon as it makes it first jump.
Aside from trophy hunting and beating score challenges, there’s very little motivation for one to power through Skydive, but we don’t believe that’s the essence of the game. It’s essentially trying to bring an idea that’s not outright accessible to people to their living room. It’s just that skydiving is not an idea that’s able to be translated to a digital platform and able to invigorate and invoke the same rush as the real thing. Gaijin has tried an ambitious idea, and their foundation is solid; it just crumbles under the bombastic intentions. There’s enough here for friends and families to gather to try it, but its $19.99/19.99€ asking price will likely turn away those who aren’t fully understanding of what’s here.