“Velocity 2X” Review
Futurlab finally releases a sequel to the highly-acclaimed shooter that takes the original’s signature shooter mechanics and adds platformer segments to those levels to make each level even more frantic than before.
What Is It?
The original Velocity was an awesome shooter that focused less on shooting waves of enemies and more on getting through levels as quickly as possible while grabbing all of the collectibles with the warp mechanic as its main unique mechanic. This set it apart from the rest of the pack. Your experimental Quarp Jet is an amazing spaceship that lets you warp across the level to get past obstacles in your way, which is at the heart of what made Velocity such a fun shooter. With Velocity 2X, all of those ship abilities return, with the newest addition being points in most levels where you dock your ship and jump into platforming levels to reach numbered locks that you need to keep progressing in the shooter portion of that level. Futurlab managed to adapt many of the same mechanics of the Quarp Jet to Lt. Kai Tana herself so that she can run, warp, shoot, and throw teleport pods around to help you get past any foe or obstacle.
As for the story, Lt. Kai Tana managed to make it through the Vilio black hole alive, but not in the best of shape for her or her ship. Luckily, she is captured by a nearby space station where Ralan, a Jintindan scientist, fixes the Quarp Jet and rebuilds Kai with cybernetic implants to save her life. The unfortunate thing is that Ralan and his people are enslaved by the brutal Vokh that use them for scientific pursuits and manual labor, but Kai and Ralan team up to try to end their tyrannical rule and free Ralan’s people.
Why Should I Care?
The thing about Velocity 2X that makes it so well-paced is that despite having a bunch of mechanics to introduce, Futurlab layers them all throughout the 50 levels so that you gradually learn them and get a chance to practice with your new ability for a bit before the next new mechanic comes along. The following levels do a great job of mixing those mechanics together perfectly to test your mastery of the warp, speed boosts, bomb throwing, and its other mechanics. This makes it fun to marathon the game and see your skills progressing as you go along. That may seem like a basic concept that you expect to see in any game of skill, but many games these days either give you everything up front and lose the discovery aspect of each mechanic or the difficulty curve is not done well so the “tests” later in the game are either too easy or hard, frustrating or boring the player. Velocity 2X does such a good job of layering on these mechanics that you even get a new way to play the game in the last few levels that completely changes how you play the game, which made for an awesome payoff at the end leading up to the final confrontation.
The platforming bits of Velocity 2X may have been the biggest wildcard in this sequel since you rarely see these two styles of games mixed, but Futurlab has done a great job of making sure the platforming is tight and that they actually translated many of the Quarp Jet’s mechanics to Kai Tana’s moveset in a really natural way. This means that the on-foot segments are all about speed, precise warping, some puzzling elements, and a really cool style of combat that isn’t like any sidescrolling shooter you’ve ever played before. Any Vokh enemies that you meet charge at you when you are near and are shielded so that near of your offensive options can damage them, so you must warp past them to take down their shield and shoot them from behind. This not only makes one enemy a challenge, but groups of two are very difficult to take down on the first try. Luckily, Velocity 2X is not the sort of game that punishes you for making a simple mistake, so you just restart from the last checkpoint with enemies keeping the damage you inflicted upon. Death in Velocity 2X just means that you’ve wasted time that is important as one of the things you’re scored on at the end of each level.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
Velocity 2X does a fantastic job of building upon what made the original game so great by introducing a new new style of game and managing to integrate it into the game like it was a natural fit all along. It just adds a new layer of mechanics that whip you into a frenzy as you aim to beat the par times for each level while grabbing every collectible along the way.
The game has a fantastic 2D art style and soundtrack that does a great job of selling the story and atmosphere, though it’s a shame that there’s no way to remove the HUD on the story scenes since much of the artwork would make for great wallpaper. The controls feature some genius ideas like the game using the Dual Shoock 4’s rumble/speakers to let you know when to drop a telepod when you’re at a fork in the road. The biggest issues I had with the game are longer load times than I’d expect on PS4 and some minor control quirks. For example, throwing the telepod in platforming levels has a poor cursor that is oddly slow and low fidelity for such a simple mechanic. The story isn’t too ambitious as your basic tale of a rebuilt hero taking down the evil empire alone, though it’s at least understandable, unlike the story that you forget exists in most shooters out there.
Velocity 2X is out on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita right now for $19.99 with Cross Buy and Cross Save support, but is free for PlayStation Plus members to play starting today. Anybody with PlayStation Plus should at least give it a shot if they didn’t play either of the two versions of the first game that were also free for PlayStation Plus previously.
|Platform:||PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita|
|Release Date:||September 2, 2014|
|ESRB Rating:||Everyone 10 and Up|
|Editor's Note:||A review code for the PlayStation 4 version was provided by the developer. About five hours was spent playing through the campaign.|