Digital Reality has released a new aerial racing game for the Xbox 360 named Skydrift.  To be honest, I didn’t know a lot about Skydrift before I downloaded it to my Xbox 360, which is truly a crime because Skydrift is one of the best racing games that you will play this year.  Combining the hectic racing game play of Mario Kart with the aerial acrobatics of Crimson Skies (oh, how I miss that game), Skydrift is a deep racing game that looks great to play.

Story and Gameplay:

The story is just like any other racing game, win the damn race.  No matter what game type you are playing, the goal is the same, to come in first.  Most of the game modes pits you against a set number of opponents where the first plane across the finish line wins, but you will run into other game modes that shake things up a bit, like elimination where the last place plane when time runs out is eliminated.  The game modes are varied enough to keep you from getting bored and are quite fun in their own right.

The controls for Skydrift took me a little while to get used to, but once you do they feel very intuitive and right.  You have the typical gas and break triggers to make your plane go, along with a shoot button and a boost button.  You also have the ability to do stunts in order to gain boost by flying on the edges of your wings.  Doing this will allow you to take tighter corners at a much higher rate of speed.  Think of it like a hand break option in a car racing game, easy to do but hard to master.

The weapons are fairly typical for this type of game, you have your mines, machine guns, rockets and shield power ups.  If you are shot down or crash into a wall,  you will respawn right where you died and begin the race again.  During each race, you can carry two items at a time, but you can upgrade these items by collecting another item that is the same.  For example, if you already have a shield power up, collecting another shield power up will boost that shield when you use it and allows you to absorb much more damage.  One feature that I really liked with Skydrift’s game play is the option to turn a power up into boost.  I always hated being in front of the pack in Mario Kart with a useless power up, with this feature that is fixed and I can boost away from the pack that is chasing me.

Skydrift is full of extra items that a player can collect, like extra skins for the eight planes in the game or different awards and achievements.  Each plane has different stats and can be useful in different game modes or styles of play.  Like to blast your enemies but worried that they will blast you back? Take the plane that has the higher defense.  Do you play much more of a straight racing style?  Then the plane with the higher speed and acceleration but lower defense may work for you.

Skydrift can be played over Xbox Live, but I was unable to get any Live games in due to the severe lack of opponents.  Skydrift had a quiet release, which means I don’t think a lot of you have heard about how good this game is and have not purchased it yet from the Xbox Live Marketplace.  This has led to a lack of online games currently for Skydrift, as I couldn’t find a single game or opponent to play against whenever I tried during my time with Skydrift.  I hope this changes soon, because this game deserves a solid online community.


Skydrift is great to look at.  The planes look fantastic and are extremely colorful, just like racing planes should be.  The levels are well designed and very interesting.  In many cases, the level actually caused me to take my mind off of the race at hand to stare at a great feature of the track or by looking for an alternative route through a lava field.  I am grateful for the targeting reticule that the game provides, because honestly it’s hard to see the other planes in all of the features of each level.  You can loose the plane ahead of you as he dives through a waterfall or around extremely tight curves and out of your line of sight.  Skydrift is just a joy to look at and the racetracks are varied and interesting enough to keep you from getting bored.

The sound, on the other had, just does its job well enough so that it is not bad.  The soundtrack is typical race game fare, with nothing that stands out to be praised while the sound effects does the job, nothing more.  There is no race announcer at all, but I’ll leave it up to you on whether that is a good thing or a bad thing.  Overall, the visual aesthetics are fantastic, while the sound aesthetics are just serviceable.

Final Thoughts:

Skydrift has had a quiet release and that is a shame, this game deserves more attention.  Skydrift combines the chaos of a Mario Kart style racing game, with the dog fighting mechanics of an aerial fighting game.  Digital Reality really did a fantastic job on Skydrift, filling it with exciting and gorgeous racing levels and different awards that players can earn during races.  While the game has it’s downsides, Skydrift has much more going for it and is a great purchase for any racing or aerial dogfighting fans out there.  What is really the worst part about Skydrift is the current lack of an online community.  With a strong online community behind it, Skydrift’s appeal will last a long time and it’s replayability would greatly increase.


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John "Judgeman" Dugan is a long time contributor and Gaming Shogun's resident fighting game expert. Judgeman has appeared on G4's Arena, including season 1's Tournament of Champions, and was a regular in the early days of Street Fighter 2 tournaments.