Look, it's Bat-man.
The list of fun and exciting games to play through the downloadable section in the Xbox Live Arcade continues. Next up to bat: Skydive: Proximity Flight. Slightly taking a page out of EA Sports’ SSX series, Proximity Flight’s gameplay focuses solely on the aspect of wingsuited competition. The popularity of this sport has increased steadily through the years, especially with the improvements in aerodynamic designs and pure human adrenaline rush. So it’s only fitting for such a game to be released at this time.
Now, the first disclaimer, like most disclaimers, states, "Do not try this at home." You know what that means. Time to switch over from doing powerbombs and top rope flips on your neighbor and switch over to valley wing-gliding, wrapped in your favorite blanket. First, maybe check out how they do it in Skydive by playing through a handful of modes there are available.
In challenges, the aim is to jet through a course as fast as you can, while flying through the total number of "gates," represented as giant rings, needed in order to pass the level. The better you do in time, style points, and extra gates collected, the higher your chance of scoring big and earning a best three out of three stars. Early levels are simple and easy, but the further you advance the tougher it gets. Most notably, speed really becomes a factor and if you aren’t quick enough, pulling up short before reaching your needed destination will become habit. Losing altitude and velocity can be frustrating, especially when you put in all the effort to keep a constant downhill rhythm but end up being forced to start again and try over.
Using what you’ve learned in challenges can be handy when jumping into adrenaline race. This race pits four competitors against each other in a sprint to the finish line. But the twist is to do it as dangerously as possible. If simply gliding to the bottom of a canyon isn’t tough enough, do it squeezing between boulders, floating inches over the bottom, and barely grazing trees. More points along with adrenaline, which feeds a meter bar to use for gaining speed, are collected when making riskier maneuvers. Further add points and adrenaline by performing air tricks such as back, front and side flips, barrel rolls, and that’s actually about it.
For just the racing courses, tricks can only help marginally but for freestyle mode, doing flips and barrel rolls is all it's about. The goal is to stock up on as many points as possible, to reach the goal of either 15000 points, 20000 points, or 30000 points; of course the higher the amount, the better the star rating. But there just aren’t enough tricks to utilize. Chaining them together for combinations help, but it’d be nice to have a few more options or even some modifiers.
As for replay value and customization, there are up to 14 characters to use and many more courses to race. With each character, finding your personal balance of weight, speed, and maneuverability is up to you. To add spice, gimmick players like "Flying Squirrel" and "Dracula" are on the roster. With all suits being patterned a bit differently, it makes for a nice color blend from suit to suit.
You can also challenge your friends and or beat their personal scores on leaderboards to earn some bragging rights. Or just play for fun. The detail and layers of the scenery is quite impressive too. At times you might forget the race or challenge altogether and just watch the view. In fact, it would be cool to be able to fly from peak to peak, land, and jump off again.
For an XBLA title, Skydive: Proximity Flight will get you a decent deal for your buck. There are plenty of tough achievements to complete and the game is even Kinect-compatible. Though the idea of this winged skydiving theme can be expanded with a few more added elements, so far it's heading in the right direction.