Despite some clever stealth missions, the campaign never really hits its stride — serving up simplistic mission objectives instead of capitalising on the game's chunky combat and satisfying flight mechanics. Different aircrafts with notable variations in control relieve the tedium, as does the game's suite of local multiplayer modes. However, despite the visual polish and sum of content, SkyFighter never quite lives up to its price-tag.
Similarly to Creat Studios and TikGames other PSN release, Magic Orbz, SkyFighter takes a classic concept and coats it in next-gen flavour. Magic Orbz worked with the Breakout formula, adding a destruction engine and plenty of physics. SkyFighter is more like a cross between R-Type and 1942, but it maintains the studio's trademark physics. It makes flying the game's suite of aircrafts slightly more challenging than in typical side-scrolling shooters. In SkyFighter, each unique craft has its own properties — bombers for example are weighty and are difficult to manoeuvre, while lighter aircrafts are simple to flick around with deft swifts of the analogue stick. Gravity also has an effect on the crafts - you can't, for example, point the craft straight up into the air and expect to maintain the same speed.
The physics give SkyFighter a unique feel and a degree of depth. While the game's relatively easy to pick up and play, there is a learning curve. Experienced players will run rings around newcomers in the game's local multiplayer dogfight mode for example.
The main bulk of SkyFighter's content is presented in the 21 mission "Campaign" mode. This puts you in control of a range of different aircraft types across a series of different missions. Each level is fairly short, giving it a "jump-in, jump-out" kind of appeal, and that's probably the best way to enjoy the game's campaign. Repetition can make the missions predictable and, at times, boring. It's not that SkyFighters mechanics are weak - the gunplay is chunky and bombing runs satisfying - it's just that the campaign relies on similar objectives too often. The tedium is broken by a couple of stand-out stealth missions - in which you must avoid searchlights by taking cover behind the clouds - but there's not enough variety outside of these.
Thankfully the game's aesthetic is super polished. There's a clarity to SkyFighters backgrounds and objects that make the game inviting and eye-catching. There's also some good use of periodic effects, such as a sepia tone which floods the screen every time you complete a mission.
Sadly, there's just not enough variety to make SkyFighter a solid recommendation. There's a lot to like about its general mechanics and visual style, but the game's strengths are not used to the best advantage across the game's repetitive single player campaign. There's fun to be had in local multiplayer, and the campaign's worth playing for the few stand-out stealth missions — however we're don't feel the experience quite lives up to the game's steep price of entry.