Pilot Sports is an aerial racer available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. Can Pilot Sports deliver an entertaining family friendly arcade style aerial time trial focused racer?
Pilot Sports has five sets of levels with 10 levels in each set of levels, although only the first set of levels are immediately available to select from, while the other four sets of levels are unlocked after successfully completing a certain quantity of levels to gold medal standard.
Event types include racing against the clock to complete the course as quickly yet simultaneously as accurately as possible by flying through gates, although time penalties are incurred when missing a gate. Meanwhile, there is also a time trial in which the player must collect as many crystals as possible before time expires; an endurance challenge of how far you can glide continuously; a free fall were the parachute must dodge obstacles, progress through gates before landing on the target platform; collecting item balloons when piloting a plane or flying a jetpack; and more besides.
Pilot Sports has a multitude of aerial vehicles including a plane, jetpack, glider and free falling before parachuting. There are 8 diverse characters to choose from including a veteran pilot; a look-alike of Tom Selleck’s Magnum character complete with moustache and patterned shirt; a classic James Bond look-alike in a suit, tie and short haircut; and more besides, although your choice of character does not personalise the vehicle’s design to their respective styles.
Track design for each level’s objective is set upon the notion of exploring the exterior of a tranquil tropical island by flying through gates, while the positioning of the gates are quite different in their degree of challenge, alongside some objectives requiring the player to accurately land on a bullseye marker to earn bonus points.
There is only a single fixed third-person camera angle that cannot be panned around. It would have been better to be able to choose from a multitude of camera angles such as from the front of the vehicle without any bodywork; a view from the front of the aerial vehicle, especially showing the plane’s or glider’s bodywork or materials; and a pilot’s eye view from the perspective of your chosen character being able to look around your surroundings with the aerial vehicle’s interior on display in the case of the plane. Meanwhile, there are no replays or photo mode, so those features would further improve how the aerial vehicle gameplay could be captured and viewed.
Pilot Sports’ remote play performance is pretty good as the graphics, audio and general performance maintains the quality of the PS4 version. However, there is no remote play control scheme optimisation resulting in accelerating or thrust and decelerating being mapped to the top right and top left of the rear touch pad respectively when it would have been much better suited to re-map them to R and L.
The control scheme is appropriately mapped to the DualShock 4 controller with the option of inverting the Y-Axis for steering. Each aerial vehicle has a unique control scheme including the plane’s control scheme of holding R2 to increase thrust; holding L2 to decrease thrust; pressing X to brake when landing; and steering with the left analogue stick, while the jetpack’s control scheme includes holding X to engage thrust; pushing forward on the left analogue stick when holding X to move through a gate or letting go of the left analogue stick when holding X to increase elevation further above the ground to reach higher gates, alongside the glider’s control scheme including steering with the left analogue stick and pressing X to brake when landing and the parachute’s control scheme including steering with the left analogue stick; holding R2 to dive before releasing the parachute; and pressing X to release parachute. There is no touch pad implementation that could have provided an alternative method of steering, while there is no vibration that could have emphasised an increase in acceleration, alongside no light bar support that could have produced gold, silver, bronze and red to highlight the medal time the player is provisionally on course to achieve.
Graphically, Pilot Sports has a nice family friendly cartoon aesthetic with some pretty good graphical touches such as the sky, island and sea, while some of the animations and sense of speed are also rather good, especially on the plane and glider.
Pilot Sports’ presentation is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, level selection menus, split-screen multiplayer menus, character selection menus, options menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the d-pad, right analogue stick and touch pad. Menu backgrounds focus on an aerial panning view of a peaceful tropical island.
Sound effects include the plane, jetpack, glider or parachute accelerating or decelerating, whooshing air, moving through gates and collecting items, alongside a fusion of a skilfully played acoustic guitar and arcade oriented instrumental music. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation, although it could have produced a sound effect such as the plane’s engine or the whooshing of air as the plane, jetpack, glider or parachute hits an air pocket.
The trophy list includes 14 trophies with 11 bronze trophies, 2 silver trophies and 1 gold trophy, although there is no platinum trophy. Easier trophies include the Repeater bronze trophy for restarting a level five times without finishing it; the Fast as the Wind bronze trophy for reaching the third round of the time attack challenge; and the Adrenaline Junkie bronze trophy for opening your parachute less than 50 metres above the landing platform. Harder trophies include the Olympia gold trophy for achieving 50 gold medals in single player and the Liberator bronze trophy for unlocking the second through fifth set of levels in single player. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 10 to 20 hours to 100% the trophy list.
There are no difficulty levels, although there is at first the basic difficulty curve of learning how to steer each aerial vehicle before the steep difficulty curve as players will have to perfect their steering to be able to achieve any gold medal times.
Split-screen multiplayer supports 2 to 4 players were players can choose their own character before selecting up to ten levels to play consecutively and the ability to mix and match levels from each of the five sets of levels for a total of 50 levels to select from. When playing multiple successive levels; the points are tallied up for each player culminating in a podium with the first placed character celebrating their victory.
Pilot Sports’ replayability stems from replaying levels to achieve a better time or more items collected in an effort to reach an improved medal from the bronze, silver and gold medals on offer for successfully completing objectives throughout the five sets of 10 levels, alongside split-screen multiplayer for 2 to 4 players that will collectively have players returning for quite some time.
• Title: Pilot Sports
• Developer: Z-Software
• Publisher: EuroVideo/Wild River
• System: PS4
• Format: PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1-4 (Split-Screen Competitive Multiplayer)
• Hard Drive Space Required: 670MB