Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Velocity 2X Review (PS Vita)


It seems like yesterday that a Playstation mini game by the name of Velocity caused a real stir on Sony’s machines. A Vita and PS3 native release followed and garnered even more wide spread praise. Now we have Velocity 2X to dive into with the promise of more intense action and the ability to control our hero Kai in platform levels. 

Remembering back to Urban Strike and the gimmick of being able to get out of the helicopter we initially were nervous about how this would all play out. Needless to say we shouldn’t have worried as Futurlab have certainly done a great job of merging two different genres together (even if they don’t perhaps fit one-hundred percent seamlessly).

For the uninitiated, the original Velocity is a vertically scrolling shooter with some puzzle elements thrown in. The sequel follows the same format and also has the same set of mission styles. Critical urgency missions need to be raced through as quickly as possible, rescue missions require stranded SOS pods to be picked up and combat missions are heavy on the blasting. 

The game has also had a bit of a redesign and visual upgrade. What this boils down to is everything looks much more detailed and colourful and there are lots of pretty neon effects and explosion particles to keep you visually stimulated. The music remains of an excellent quality as well and is the perfect accompaniment to the on screen action. Futurlab certainly does know how to present its games and it really helps to immerse players into the experience.

The ship also controls in pretty much the same way with new abilities being unlocked as you progress. Soon you’ll be flinging bombs with the analogue stick and teleporting all over the screen much like before and all at a thousand miles-per-hour. Most of the later levels require intricate placement of teleport pods which allow you to move back and forth around the map as different switches are often required to be destroyed in numerical order. This then removes force fields which would otherwise fry you to crisp.

The biggest change to the core formula is that you now need to dock your ship and go after certain switches on foot. During these sections you also need to collect energy crystals which are only found on the side scrolling platform levels. Kai handles much like her ship does with the ability to teleport and shoot much in the same way. You can also slide and sprint which turns it into quite a large homage to Amiga games like Zool. Later you’ll get the ability to throw teleport balls around which will be familiar to anyone who has played Flashback. 

It’s important to say that the platforming definitely has an Amiga feel to it. Despite what you might get from the screen shots this is not like a Metroid or Prince of Persia style of game. The levels are, like the outside sections, built for speed and you’ll soon get to grips with the nature of how to approach them.

Adding the on foot sections does make the levels somewhat longer than in the original Velocity. Although you’ll soon be bounding through near the three minute mark a couple of them held us up for over ten minutes. When this happens the magic does begin to wear off a little as the true appeal of the game is blitzing through everything at lightning speed. In short though, the sections do work. They aren’t quite as glorious as the vertical space action but they are an enjoyable and free flowing addition that manages to fit into the core game. 

There are also a few boss battles thrown in now for good measure. Every now and then at the end of a level you’ll have to engage with a big enemy ship filling the screen with bullets. It’s as close to bullet hell as Velocity has ever got and it adds another dimension to the game. The encounters are implemented well and are placed sparingly enough to never become tiresome.

The only real niggle we have is that you need to gain a certain amount of experience to unlock each level. This isn’t an issue until you get up into the forties but having to continually go back and improve scores and times on earlier levels can grind the game to halt. When you have to go and play five or six levels to unlock level 43 and then do it again for level 44 and so on, it can get a bit tiresome. For a game based on fluidity and speed it’s a rare oversight, especially when you consider that most gamers will likely go straight back into the game after finishing it to beat their scores anyway.

Overall, if you liked Velocity then you should like this as well. It does pretty much everything right and provides just as big a buzz as the original. It may not be as pure in terms of its focus but everything works very well and it stands as one of the best games on the network. The original was one of the greatest games of the modern era and this comes pretty damn close to it in just about every way.

Overall 8/10

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