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SkyDrift is what would appear if Mario Kart and Hydro Thunder mated and had a baby. That baby, however, would be expected to live up to his parent's expectations… but in this case he doesn't.
From Mario Kart the game receives power-ups such as missiles, shields, mines and a slew of others. Hydro Thunder's genes provide a quick pace and imaginative levels like a frozen tundra, volcano and a dam that is reminiscent of the one in Hydro Thunder Hurricane.
And while all these elements are fun, and I don't know of too many racing games using planes, SkyDrift just falls short of the pedigree those two titles have.
That's not to say the game is bad. Zipping over and in icebergs and skillfully using a knife edge position to straiten your plane up and down to squeeze through tight spaces — which also fills your speed boost — makes for a thrilling race.
All of the power-ups are upgradeable, and they add even more excitement and danger. It's one thing to just race around a volcano and tight spots, but it's an adrenaline pumping endeavor when you're also trying to lock on your missiles to blow up a plane, and make sure you have your shield at the ready (you can hold on to two power-ups at once) to block incoming machine gun fire from behind.
The power-up system goes one step further by allowing players to turn them into boost at will. This is important for players who either need to catch up to someone who may be way out in first, or someone in first who wants to keep some distance from would-be rival pilots.
A campaign mode and online multiplayer are offered. It's nothing new or different, but one type of race is exhilarating and needs to be added to more games: Survivor.
In these races players are eliminated every 30 seconds or so. When warned, players only have a brief terror-infused moment to try and get out of last place before they are forcibly removed from the race. This continues until only on plane remains, and often times it resulted in me and a computer player flying neck-and-neck, trying to get ahead into first before we were blown to smithereens.
SkyDrift has some extra incentives to keep playing besides winning races — badges and medals. Collecting them can be as simple as killing a player with a mine in under two seconds, or as tricky as destroying an enemy's mine with the shockwave power-up. It's fun to see which medals and badges you can get.
If the badges and medals have gamers coming back for more, the music and graphics certainly won't. Graphically the game gets the job done and looks crisp and clean — though unimaginative. While flying planes around a dam while avoiding falling boulders and what have you is cool, looking at it isn't.
And musically… well, I can't remember any of it. That's how dull it is.
But here I am, still playing against people online, which works like a charm. I can't see SkyDrift keeping my attention for too much longer like Hydro Thunder or Mario Kart, but it's a fun diversion that uses flying planes on an aerial race track to great effect.