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As the resident racing fan, all racing games end up in my lap, mostly. I’ve raced trucks, rally cars, buses, and now I can add drones to that list. What I can’t add is a new favourite racing game – or genre for that matter.

Liftoff: Drone Racing is not a game for the everyday racer. It’s difficult to the point of ridiculous and if you’re coming from a traditional racing game, you’ll have to work hard to adjust to Liftoff: Drone Racing’s way of doing things. It’s really different to what I’m used to and it threw me far out of my comfort zone, and sometimes off the actual course, but more on that later.

The game begins with some tutorials, and I spent a good hour struggling my way through them before figuring out that I could just skip to the main menu and get on with racing. The tutorials are useful, but when the game suddenly wanted to teach me how to fly a drone like a professional would, complete with simulated controls, I got frustrated really easily.

Liftoff: Drone Racing has two different control schemes, one of which is an absolute nightmare to tackle. The first is the more traditional racing style where you only have to worry about turning, accelerating, and the altitude of your drone. The other is ACRO, which means acrobatic. With this control scheme, you’ll be given all the freedom of real drone flying, but you’ll have to wrap your head around managing pitch, yaw, and roll, which all need to be taken into account for even the simplest of moves. I barely got through the tutorials using ACRO controls, and there was no way I was going to get anywhere in a full race. I was constantly smashing into the ground, sending my drone into a flippety-flop every 20 seconds.

The racing itself is fine when using the simple controls, but it’s still a little awkward given the hyper-sensitive collision physics. One wrong move and you’ll smack a tree or a pole and then you’ll be flung far off course. It wasn’t fun, then, and my time was mostly spent going slowly and carefully, rather than zipping through courses at breakneck speed, how I imagined I would be playing the game.

Technically, it’s a poor showing. The graphics are basic and the performance is at times quite poor with lots of screen tearing and frame-rate troubles. It’s not a smooth experience and honestly, once I’m done with this review, I’m done with the game.

It’s really hard to recommend this one to anybody outside of the niche drone-racing community. Casual racing fans won’t find much to enjoy here, only pain and suffering. If you’re a hardcore drone racer in real life but you can’t get to the parks, this might be worth a look. It definitely seems geared towards drone racing fans, and with the depth offered by the more complicated ACRO controls, it might make a good substitute for the real thing. There’s a career mode I didn’t get very far into, a multiplayer suite that I couldn’t try, and some cosmetics that seemed pointless for somebody like me. It’s just not for me, unfortunately. Back to DIRT 5 I go, then…

Liftoff: Drone Racing PS4 Review
  • Overall - Bad - 4/10
    4/10
4/10

Summary

Liftoff: Drone Racing is not going to be for the everyday racing fan, instead, it’s best suited towards the enthusiast drone racing crowd. But even then, with the game’s numerous issues, it’s a tough sell to even the hardcore fans.

Pros

  • The attention to detail is impressive with the ability to customise and tweak drones using parts
  • While I hated the ACRO controls, it might be a plus for those who are familiar with actual drones

Cons

  • ACRO controls are evil
  • The regular controls are OK, but it’s still a battle to stay on course
  • Collision physics are evil, especially on the track where you have to fly through a barn window. Get it wrong and you’re spending the race in the barn
  • Numerous technical issues ranging from excessive screen-tearing to poor frame rates affecting the flow of play

Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy

Reviewed using PS4 Pro. 

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By Chris Harding

Chris has been writing about gaming news for far too long, and now he's doing it even more. A true PlayStation know-it-all, Chris has owned just about every Sony console that ever existed. Trophies are like crack to this fella. (Bronze trophies, that is - he only has one Platinum.)

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