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Skydive: Proximity Flight (Xbox 360) artwork

Skydive: Proximity Flight (Xbox 360) review

"Fleeting jubilation."

As of this writing, there's currently a box, its contents costing me a solid $400, sitting next to my television, just waiting to be opened and hooked up. But it's been four days since it arrived, the box is slowly gathering dust, and I blame this bizarre and unexpected circumstance on a game I purchased off Xbox Live two days prior to its delivery. When I saw the title Skydive: Proximity Flight in the arcade section and gazed at the images provided, I thought it was ridiculous, subsequently downloading the demo in hopes of a good chuckle. About 15 minutes later, I was instead feeling dazed and irritated. So clearly, I did the right thing by immediately purchasing the full game afterwards.

I should mention that I was also intrigued by the experience to the point of wanting more, and maybe get some detailed explanations on the baffling mechanics and gameplay presented in the demo. You see, the game's title is a bit misleading in the sense that, yes, you skydive, but specifically, you're actually BASE jumping, which is the act of jumping off a cliff or another fixed location. It's also a helluva lot more dangerous than normal skydiving. With that said, the demo only offered the single task of making it to the bottom of an impossibly slanted and grassy mountain region, against three other aficionados. I originally thought this was going to be fiercely easy, but once my character took the first jump, I was shocked at the sudden, insane speeds he was gliding at: weaving around canyons, under bridges, and through tiny holes as if the Death Star's weak spot was just ahead.

As awed as I was at first, the irritation and confusion mentioned earlier quickly reared its head. Reaching the goal in first place wasn't so effortless, especially since I kept crashing into everything imaginable, each hit accompanied with a bowling pin strike sound effect. Graciously, the devs give you the ability to rewind time when this happens, though it has limits, like rewinding back for only a second or two, so as not to abuse it to absurd levels. There's also a boost meter, which apparently filled up whenever I did a trick, simply done by pressing the A button and pulling the left analog stick in the desired direction. Oddly, at certain moments during my races, the meter just wasn't filling up as fast as it did during other times. Unfortunately, the demo did very little to explain, give tips, or hints about winning or using my arsenal in an efficient manner.

Guess what? The full game didn't do a very good job, either. Or maybe I'm just really stupid. But after about 20/25 more minutes of playing the one same race and fiddling around the menu screens, I finally learned what to do properly thanks to loading screen tips and tutorials tucked away in an odd section, as if treated like optional challenges... Essentially, victory hinges on how many times you can skillfully use your boost meter, and to fill it quickly at all, Skydive follows Burnout's method of intentionally putting yourself in harms way. This includes flying dangerously close to objects, from mountain sides and cramped gorges, to trees and other tight spots, and if you want a faster-building meter, then you'll need to perform stunts as all this is happening.

It's actually pretty unnerving, since, as said, I've crashed a million times on my first few races, but that amazing sense of speed and adrenaline's the reason I got hooked into getting the full game. Also, with a better understanding on how to dominate the races, they actually became a lot more thrilling and entertaining as I made my way through different mountain tracks, ranging from a snowy region to a tropical paradise with waterfalls. Almost made me forget about the rubberband AI. Almost. And while each track was purely a "straight line", going from on end to another, I was especially impressed by the scope of each one, offering both safe and dangerous paths. What I mean by that is how, if you're not feeling frisky, you can usually glide at a higher plain where there's more space and less obstacles to contend with, or, if you so dare, you can dive into confined areas, some even feeling very maze-like; and just when you think you've hit the bottom of the track, an entire new, deeper, pointy territory presents itself for you to literally crash headfirst into.

I was having a blast competing in and dominating each track, and just when I was getting in a groove, anticipating the next difficult track to conquer... it just abruptly ended. There's only four tracks. Now, I knew from the beginning that there were four tracks visible at the menu, but, you know, I figured there were going to be more unlocked once I completed them. Because video games, man! However, after my mini-fit, I knew the game having such a small track count was due to the small size of the dev team. I couldn't even begin to imagine the time it takes to create one of these long stretches of land, most of its scenery being passed by in milliseconds thanks to the speeds of the jumpers; it's the same issue that inconvenienced Sonic Team with games like Sonic Colors and Generations.

While that's really not all the game has to offer, the other modes aren't great incentives to keep playing outside the single-player races. Challenges mode offers 43 objectives to undertake, but it's not as varied as one might think: eight challenges are literally tutorial missions that teach you how to do tricks, and 20 other challenges are just flying through rings. I mean, unless you're a huge fan of Superman 64 or Pilotwings, I didn't consider these thrilling additions to the game. To be fair, the remaining 15 challenges require you to do some pretty tricky stunts in some tight situations, like squeezing through pinholes and then safely landing. But that's not really something to give high praise to, because if this was another game, then this stuff would be bonus material, not the main feature.

There's a Freestyle mode, which allows you to perform stunts and whatnot to your hearts content with various starting points, and without the restriction of the races or "challenges" to bog you down. And, yeah, that's it for that mode. It's not like you get unlimited flight or whatever, so you're still falling to the ground, giving this mode a surprisingly limited feel to it; a missed opportunity, and that's the general feeling for the whole game. I'll give the devs a pass on the scant track selection, but they could've been much more creative when it came to the challenges. Funny how I came into Skydive: Proximity Flight looking for a joke, but walked away craving for more than what was handed to me, and I highly doubt a sequel is gonna rise from this. That's unfortunate.

Now, I can finally open that blasted PlayStation 4 box...


pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (July 07, 2015)

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