Tony Hawks, Matt Hoffman and Shaun White; all people who became the face of their chosen extreme sport. In my teenage years, despite being awful at it, I got really into skateboard culture, I loved the photography, the videos, the fashion, the art, I loved it all. I have in my time seen people snowboard and thought to myself how awesome it must be to do that, the same with proper BMX riders. Skydiving and Base jumping, to my mind, don’t have the same cult following as other extreme sports. There aren’t the kids up and down the UK idolising base jumpers or trying out the fashion or the culture for themselves. That’s why Skydive: Proximity Flight is one of the most unusually chosen games to be produced in a very long time.
Skydive: Proximity Flight is reminiscent of the old days of Tony Hawks and the various snowboarding games that game out in the PS1 and PS2 era. You as the player pick a character and then jump off high mountains, high cliffs and high hot air balloons, you then use your little knowledge of aerodynamics and physics to keep yourself gliding with a wingsuit for as long as possible before you pull the cord and release your parachute. Between the two periods of having your feet on solid ground you must complete certain objectives.
If you own two PlayStation Move controllers you can hold one in each hand and simulate the falling by doing that, that being said though, who owns 1 PlayStation Move controller, let alone 2. Plus you’d look like a bit of a moron. Alternatively you can use the 6-Axis controller to guide the decent, it’s interesting to see someone implement the 6-axis as that is a bit of technology that has barely been used since the launch of the PS3. Finally you can use the analogue sticks which, because I don’t own any Moves and I don’t like the 6-Axis, was my control scheme of choice. As much as it may seem like I’m slagging off the other control methods I actually think that’s a brilliant move by Gaijin Entertainment. Let’s be honest, not many games took on the 6-Axis or the Move controls so it’s nice to see those who do enjoy them get some support.
As you slowly fall to your death you are able to pull of a couple of tricks, and I mean a couple of tricks. Barrel rolls and front/back flips are all you have to aid in your stylish falling, that being said I’m not sure what else they could do, juggling seems out of the equation as does calligraphy. More points are awarded when you have certain variable or modifier elements, fly closer to the ground whilst spinning or just nose dive your avatar towards the Earth all give you more danger points.
There are a few modes to play over, there are races, online /offline and time trial versions, trick attacks and my personal favourite the route challenges where you have to fly through giant hoops for as long as possible and quite often through awkward scenarios. There is also a free mode where you can pick your location, like the Grand Canyon or Mountains in Italy, and then jump off your hot air balloon like a mad man. The locations are wonderfully designed, there is a real variation both in design but also topography of each area leading to different play styles being required.
The genre of base jumping is quite niche, and at first I thought there was a load of ‘famous’ base jumpers in this game, however I found out that 4 or 5 were just novelty costumes, another 8 were generic named people and the final 3 were famous. I don’t know how many famous base jumpers there are, and perhaps that’s an issue only I will face with this game, I just don’t know enough about the world. That being said if you choose any character other that the cute girl in the flying squirrel costume then you are dead inside and should leave this site now.
The game’s biggest flaw is its soundtrack, a generic rock track that seems to be on permanent loop, it reminds me of the PS2 menu music for wrestling games, something so inane that you don’t notice it at first but then the looped bass line and electric guitar start to bore into your skull and chew away at any form of intelligence you might have. This game for me should, despite being about an extreme sport, been all about chilling out. Flying through the clouds and through beautiful scenery is wonderful in this game, it’s just a shame that you have a Nickleback tribute act serenading you throughout.
I played the PSN version, there is a Kinect version on XBLA as well as, and apparently, a PC version with Oculus Rift support is coming out. If that is true then to be honest that’s what I’d be more excited for than either of the current versions. The game is solid in itself and as I said, the locations are amazingly designed, but it needs that something extra to make it a bit more special, as it stands the game grows old after an hour or two and unless you are someone who is obsessive about ’3 starring’ levels there really isn’t enough here to keep you going. This is a solid game that looks beautiful and gets your blood pumping, just to get much more out of it you should probably be a base jumping fan to start with.