After the resounding success that was Velocity, both as a PlayStation Mini and the upscaled PlayStation Vita re-release named Velocity Ultra, Futurlab’s sequel to the space shooter was always going to have some big boots to fill.
Velocity 2X (pronounced ‘two ecks’ in case you were wondering) manages to fill those boots and then some! Adding side-scrolling platform sections to the top-down, teleporting shooting action, Velocity 2X takes everything that earned the original game its awards and improves upon it whilst adding a whole host of new features.
The aim of Velocity 2X is to clear each level as quickly as possible whilst ensuring that you rescue any survivors and collect as much explosive Rekenium as possible. Think this sounds simple enough? Think again! Each level of Velocity 2X is designed to perfection – with hidden areas, multiple docking bays for you to exit your ship, a vast array of enemies and multiple paths to explore. To earn maximum points from each level you must kill all enemies, smash all the glass that houses some of the survivors and Rekenium in the level and do all of this whilst racing against the clock.
To achieve the coveted ‘Perfect’ run of each level, you must ace all of the above objectives and do so without dying. This is definitely not a mission for the easily defeated. I often lost hours trying to achieve the top score in some of Velocity 2X’s levels, cursing and beating myself up because I would die right before I reached the end of a stage or because I did so leaving a sole survivor behind. Unlike other games that seem to punish you on purpose, Velocity 2X’s challenges did just that, challenge me. I kept pushing myself until I could almost memorise each level and achieve a ‘Perfect’ run, with this requiring complete focus and what felt like rhythmic reflexes from my fingers and thumbs to reach the end.
Velocity 2X will ease you into the game, but to avoid getting complacent Futurlab will introduce a new item or weapon to spice things up a bit at various intervals throughout the game’s fifty levels. Bombs, projectile telepods that you can throw when on foot to reach hard to get to areas and telepods that you can place at your leisure throughout a level whenever you come across a fork in the path ahead and want to explore both routes.
Everything about this game shines, you can clearly feel the love and attention to detail that those at Futurlab have devoted to creating this title. The gameplay is fantastic, the mixture of shooting and platforming interlinks perfectly. Although the puzzle-platforming is new to the Velocity series, it feels right at home in this title, even giving platform greats like Guacamelee and Rayman Origins a run for their money!
As soon as you fire up the game and the developers’ logo flashes across the screen your ears are treated to the opening notes of Joris de Man’s soundtrack. Velocity 2X’s audio is fantastic, the music twists and turns as you make your way through each level and fits perfectly with the Sci-Fi theme of the game. The many sounds of your ship and the numerous enemies that you will encounter throughout the levels are just as easy on the ear, everything is crisp and clean and sound just as you would imagine them to if Quarp-jets and telepods were real.
The audio is matched (if not bettered) by Velocity 2X’s visuals. The game is stunning, with bright colours, multiple explosions, beautiful artwork and lens flare effects that look fantastic on the PlayStation Vita’s glorious display. Even as I attempted to clear each level as quickly as I could, I was still able to admire the beauty of this game. The game’s scenery, the enemy race known as the Vokh, Lt.Kai Tana and her trusty ship are perfectly animated. Velocity 2X is definitely up there with titles such as Killzone Mercenary and Tearaway as one of the best looking games on the console, with its own, unique artstyle apparent in every aspect of the game, from the menus even down to the fun, interactive credits that you can run-and-gun through.
All of the above is made even sweeter by the game’s perfect control scheme. Using the left analogue stick to move you can navigate your way around the many levels and use Square to teledash/teleport from your current location to where you want to be by holding down the button, aiming and releasing. When in your ship, you will be using the Right trigger to boost, X to shoot your Pulse Cannon and the right analogue stick to fire bombs in one of four directions. On foot, the right analogue stick is used to shoot your palm cannon in any direction you feel, with the game allowing you to run and gun in full 360°. With all these different things to learn, it is great that Futurlab drip-feed these new features so that we can get to grips with one before another is introduced.
Velocity 2X certainly does offer value for money, even more so now that it has been announced that the game will be part of September’s PlayStation Plus Instant Game Collection. With bonus missions that can be unlocked by finding them in secret areas of the game and a wealth of information detailing the game’s world found in the ‘Flight Computer’ menu, there is plenty on offer to keep you busy for a long time.
There are many games that I pick up and play and then never go back to, Futurlab have managed to create a game that has taken over both my PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4. The game’s Cross Save functionality works perfectly and every time I go to play a game on either console, regardless of whether I set out with intentions to play another title, I always find that it is Velocity 2X that is loading within seconds of my console turning on.
We all knew that Velocity 2X would be a good game after the excellent Velocity Ultra. When Futurlab posted Velocity 2X’s release date on the PlayStation Blog at the start of August along with the almost cocksure claim that their title will be a game-of-the-year winner, many (including myself) took this with a pinch of salt. After spending the last month playing this game day-in day-out, I can safely say that they have every right to make that claim. Velocity 2X certainly does feel like a true contender to that title and it is definitely one of the best games I have played on my favourite handheld to date.