Cliff Diving is an augmented reality (AR) game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS Vita. The game is a humorous arcade style approach to the extreme sport of cliff diving.
The graphics are good with a consistent frame rate and smooth animations. All of the locations present within the game look great as does the helicopter that delivers your character (Dan) to your location before the dive takes place. The animations are humorous particularly when your character fails a dive, but the animations of the moves that your character performs during the dives are very accurate and appropriate to a representation of the extreme sport of cliff diving.
There is only one single player game mode, although there are seven different scenes that each provides different types of dives. The seven scenes are based upon cliffs in different locations including: basic, tropical, iceberg, shipwreck, crane, helicopter and custom cliff. Each of the seven scenes contains five types of dives with their own varying difficulty levels. After each cliff dive you get to see a close up replay of your dive and you are told whether you have improved upon your previous personal best score. You earn money for achieving successful dives and the harder the dive the more money you will earn from $20 upwards, but if you fail a dive by mistiming a button press or pressing the wrong button resulting in face plants or missing the water completely, then you will be facing a bruised ego and hospital bills. A considerable amount of additional content including: two diving platforms (a lighthouse and a missile silo), twelve high risk dives, more hoops and a lot more animations for failed dives are contained within the Splashdown game pack available for download on the PlayStation Store for £0.79.
The controls are simplistic and are mostly kept to the face buttons. As you progress further into the scenes and types of dives; there are more buttons involved. An example of this is the first dive called The Newbie on the basic cliff scene in which you only have to press X for the run up to begin and then press and hold X when your character reaches the end of the board when the icon turns green (the longer you hold the X button the further the dive will be resulting in potentially receiving more points), while in the second dive called Hoopla on the basic cliff scene sees a hoop that you have to dive through by following the previous controls with a well timed press of the X button when the hoop turns green. Later dives present you with the challenge of more well timed button presses, but not just with the X button, but also up to and including: X, O, triangle and square, such as Rock Face Revolution on the tropical cliff scene sees two hoops that you have to dive through by following the previous controls with a well timed press of the O button followed by the X button when both hoops individually turn green.
Some of the dives require your character to be pumped up by the audience by you tapping the centre of the bottom of the rear touchpad in time to the meter reaching the green section of the heart rate monitor, which results in the audience clapping their hands to provide encouragement for your character to make the dive. A further interesting addition to this mechanic of the game is that the more you hit the green section of the heart rate monitor; the further length your character will be able to dive. The Vita’s motion sensor functionality is used to move the positioning of the camera angle. It is also worth mentioning that there is an option in the options menu that enables you to toggle the display of the dive buttons on or off during gameplay, so if you have the option turned off you will have to memorise the required button presses for a successful cliff dive as displayed in the dive select menu before you start it and another option is available to reset the tutorials if you have forgotten an element of how to perform the cliff dive and need to learn it once again.
Cliff Diving requires only one AR card to be positioned directly underneath the Vita. The AR card can be located anywhere you want it to be enabling you to position the location of the cliff dive outside in your front garden or in your living room with the only restrictions being that the AR cards have to be placed on a flat surface and they have to be used in a well lit environment. I found that playing the game sitting in the middle of my living room during the daytime did not actually provide enough light to play the game, neither did turning a lamp on only a few feet away, so I actually had to turn the main light of the room on for the camera to sync with the AR card. I found this rather weird as the camera only needs to sync with one AR card for Cliff Diving, while my experience with syncing the camera to multiple AR cards (ranging between three and six AR cards) has been considerably easier with almost every other AR game for the Vita.
The audio consists of arcade style upbeat music, while you can hear your character warming up before the run up with a comment post dive such as “Oh yeah!” if the dive goes well or a scream if the dive goes badly and the clapping to pump your character up for the dive and the cheering and applause from the audience certainly adds to the atmosphere of each dive.
As is the case with all of the free downloadable AR games there is no trophy list, which removes some of the additional replayability value of Cliff Diving in comparison to the range of AR games that cost £1.59 each, such as PulzAR, Table Ice Hockey, Table Mini Golf and Table Top Tanks.
Pass the Vita multiplayer game modes with each player attempting to beat the other player’s score would have been great fun and would have worked perfectly for Cliff Diving as would leaderboards showcasing your highest scores for the build up, take off, execution, entry and the overall dive score, but unfortunately none of this content is included, which reduces the potential replayability of the game. However, there is more than enough content and fun to be had with the single player focus of the game.
Overall, Cliff Diving is a fun game with a lot of single player content, while it is disappointing to not have any multiplayer modes and leaderboards included; it is still definitely recommended, especially considering the fact that it is a free download and covers an extreme sport that we don’t get to see all that often in the games industry.
At A Glance
- Title: Cliff Diving
- Publisher: Spiral House (XDev Studio Europe)
- System: PS Vita
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Cross Play: No
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 523Mb