XBLA Review: SkyDrift

Does this racer ascend above its rivals?

SkyDrift is an arcade-style racer where you fly planes through stages, if you’ve ever played Diddy Kong Racing then SkyDrift will feel very familiar as you collect weapons and power-ups to defeat your rivals, except that SkyDrift is a bit more complex in its controls as you can pull of stunts, plus move the plane vertically to fit through tight gaps. It’s also exceptionally fast, especially when using the boost.

The stages are well varied, but the race modes themselves are sparse. You’ll get your standard races and the Elimination mode, but that’s pretty much it. There are a good number of levels for your cash, but they do feel very samey and predictable after a while. Having said that, the frantic nature of the game is addictive and enjoyable as you dogfight those ahead of you. There are also skins and medals to earn by completing races both in the campaign and via multiplayer. There are some pretty easy achievements for those who want them.

Here’s the achievement list:

Addicted (10) Complete at least one match for 7 consecutive days.
Air Race Champ (20) Complete the campaign.
Combat Ready (10) Unlock Stage 2.
Decorated (20) Collect 10 Badges.
Dressing Room (30) Unlock all Skins.
First Victory (20) Earn your first victory online!
Home Stretch (10) Unlock all events in the campaign.
Power User (10) Use every powerup in the game at least once.
Shock and Awe (10) Kill two players at the same time with Shockwave.
Test Pilot (20) Win a race with every plane.
The Collector (10) Unlock all Planes.
The Most Decorated (30) Collect all Badges.

In terms of visuals, SkyDrift is a lovely looking game for an XBLA title. The locations look great, but the planes and effects from the powerups are average. Sound effects are a mixed bag. The framerate is steady for the most part, so that’s good. I guess the lack of local multiplayer is what bugs me considering what type of game this is and how it should be played, which is alongside your mates as you try and beat them for glory.

The Verdict

SkyDrift is a decent dogfighting racer, but it lacks originality which ultimately doesn’t make it stand out as much as it should. It has some great moments and it’s fairly easy to get the full 200 gamerpoints, so its worth downloading the trial to at least see if its your cup of tea.