PSN Roundup: Sky Diving and Dark Mist
Presumably don't go well together.
- Developer: LightWeight Co.
- Release Date: Out now
- Price: GBP 3.49
You've got to love the slightly random nature of PSN games - except when a developer comes up with something so horribly uncontrollable and annoying that you have to physically restrain yourself from throwing the Sixaxis at the telly. Sky Diving is quite comfortable (and indeed discomfortingly) the worst game to emerge from Sony's great downloadable games experiment to date. Playable with three AI skydivers, or in co-operation with three of your chums, the idea is to tilt and turn the Sixaxis pad, make squiggly man-shapes in mid-air and then land safely. It sounds quite fun, but that optimism will hurtle violently to its death pretty quickly.
There are several game modes. The first, Formation, is the easiest to get going with, and probably the one you'll spend most time with as a result. As part of a four-man sky diving team you're tasked with joining in a pre-determined mid-air routine and clocking up as many formations as possible within the time limit. So it's a Simon Says score attack, where quick changeovers between positions are rewarded with a higher rating and therefore a higher score. The best scores get entered on the high score table, and uploaded online.
Gameplay is almost exclusively controlled via the motion sensors in the Sixaxis pad, with your man's position on the screen corresponding to the tilt of the pad, while rotating the pad clockwise or anti-clockwise allows you to reorientate your flying daredevil. L1 and R1 correspond to your left and right hands, so you can grab hold of your team-mates, although punching is sadly out of the question. In theory it's all instantly intuitive, and the concept of pulling off as many formations as possible lends the whole thing an initial sense of gleeful panic.
In practice, though, problems arise as soon as the pressure's on and you're expected to pull off quick changes against the clock. The game flashes up a red outline to let you know where you should go, but all too often by the time you've moved to the suggested area your team-mates have fanned out a little, meaning that the position you actually need to be in has changed dramatically. This leaves you wiggling haplessly in mid-air until the game flashes up a new destination. Even when you're confident about where to go, you're often penalised for lining yourself up ever so slightly incorrectly, and end up over-compensating your adjustment to the point where it all goes horribly wrong. Once you screw up, the whole round goes to pot, and frustration quickly ensues thereafter.
The game also locks the stages available to you until you collect various licences. Getting the A licence is eventually doable with a bit of determination, but whether you'll bother going for the S is debatable. It's too much pain for too little gain.
As for the other main mode, Landing, the idea is to land on a small target on the ground with higher points awarded the closer you get to the bulls-eye, but the whole process is too boring and long-winded to put in the necessary practice to get good at it. Before you land, you must try and gain bravery points during freefall by pulling the ripcord at the last minute. Once you've done so, you gently and boringly float to the ground. Tilting left or right essentially rotates you, while pulling back on the left or right sticks allows you to do sharp turns, and pulling both back at the same time slows you down considerably. The only incentive to wade through the various licence stages is to unlock the mysterious third mode.
However, once you do, you might wish you hadn't wasted all that time, as it turns out that Extreme mode involves little more than collecting money as you fall through the air. You can't even upload your scores online.
As interesting an idea as Sky Diving is, sadly the concept fails to deliver thanks to clunky motion sensing. It's on occasions like this that you curse Sony for not offering free trials of its PSN games, because this sounds quite tempting on the page but ultimately deserves to get tangled up in its chute and plummet into nothingness.