SkyDrift is an airborne Vehicular Combat racing game developed by Digital Reality. It was self-published by them for the PC (November 21, 2011) and PlayStation 3 (September 6, 2011) while Namco Bandai Partners handled the Xbox 360 release. (September 7, 2011)
There isn't a plot to speak of, but that isn't really an issue here. The premise is a brutal, over-the-top series of races involving a variety of colorful, fast, and very well-armed aircraft, pretty-looking environments and lots of Power Ups. Improbable Piloting Skills are a must. There are no achivements for second place.
The game consists of a single-player tournament and various online options, with quick, player and custom matches available. The tournament has a linear series of stages, where completing a certain number of events in a stage will unlock the next one, though you need not finish them all (though doing so unlocks new liveries for the planes) Game modes include:
- Power Race: Racing with Power Ups. A no holds-barred brawl to the finish.
- Speed Race: Racing without Power Ups. Instead there are "speed rings", passing through which gives you a burst of speed.
- Survivor: Like Power Race, except that every thirty seconds or so, the last-place plane is eliminated.
Online play also includes (With DLC) Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch.
SkyDrift provides examples of:
- Announcer Chatter: Though less chatter then some games. Another announcer can occasionally be heard yelling things to the crowd when passing by the observing blimps.
- Cool Plane: The developers took bits and pieces of real-world planes and mashed them together to create stylish new designs. The overall look is reminiscent of Crimson Skies.
- Copy-and-Paste Environments: Somewhat. Of the six tracks in the game, three take place on tropical islands with similar valleys, caves and beach areas. For variety, "Wrecks" has wrecked ships to fly through and "Heatwave" has a river of lava.
- Competitive Balance: The planes are fairly well balanced against one another, though some might perform better in certain game modes. This is also likely why the jets offered in the DLC aren't flat-out better then the vanilla prop-driven planes.
- Convection Schmonvection: Part of the "Heatwave" track is spent flying mere feet above a river of lava. While it doesn't damage your plane, it does cause heat distortion on your screen if you fly really low.
- Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: If you get wrecked, you respawn a few feet back from where you wrecked.
- Deflector Shields: The Shield Power-Up protects you from bullets, rockets, shockwaves, mines and even scraping up against environmental objects. It can't save you from a head-on crash, though.
- Downloadable Content: Two: One adds Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and an assortment of arenas to online play, and the other adds three new planes: The heavily-armored, maneuverable but slow Vanguard, the high-speed, low-everything-else Sparrow X1, and the slow but maneuverable and boost-crazy Triwing Vintage.
- Fragile Speedster: The twin-engine, push-prop Speedster Pro 2 has excellent top speed and acceleration, but very little armor. The triple-engine, jet-assisted Stallion Turbo is even faster and better armored, but has far worse acceleration.
- Homing Projectile: The Rocket Power-Up. You get two from a single pickup, four if you get a second one. You can fire one at at time or all at once.
- Improbable Piloting Skills: Thanks to the game's loose physics, players can execute some tricky maneuvers fairly easily. In no plane is this easier then the Panther 3, seen above in the foreground. While no faster then the Cooper Evo, it boasts insane maneuverability and can literally fly circles around other planes. Watch out for it's low armor, though.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: The Cooper Evo, an unassuming single-engine, straight-wing craft. Surprisingly effective in the right hands. The Skyline Mk II also falls here, with lower boost power and maneuverability then the Cooper but greater top speed and armor.
- Nitro Boost: Every plane is equipped with a boost meter that is filled by performing stunts, "burning" Power Ups or damaging other planes. Planes with low top speed often have high boost power to compensate, like the Spark and Triwing Vintage.
- More Dakka: The Cannon Power-Up. Against long range targets, it's actually more effective then the homing rockets, which can be fooled into hitting walls rather easily. And it can't be intercepted by shockwaves.
- Power-Up: Pickups include Cannon, Rockets, Shields, Mines, Shockwaves, and Repairs. Each can be upgraded by grabbing another of the same type. You can have two different ones at once, and can "burn" them to generate boost instead of using them.
- Scenery Porn: All over the place. A stated goal of the developers was to create striking real-world environments for the tracks.
- Shockwave Stomp: Well, not a stomp really. The Shockwave Power-Up lets out an EMP blast that damages and slows nearby planes, and can destroy mines and incoming rockets.
- Stuff Blowing Up: The planes explode rather spectacularly when destroyed or crashed, and certain objects in the environment explode and fall on the racers when it would be dramatically appropriate- like on the last lap.