Review: Velocity 2X (PSN)

Velocity 2X_logo

Upon playing Velocity 2X two relatively popular phrases sprang to mind; the first of which is “if it’s not broken don’t fix it” and the second being “a sequel should be bigger, better and more badass” and fortunately for us Futurlab have managed to achieve both of this with their latest game.

Confused? Well it’s actually pretty simple – for starters Velocity 2X is relatively the same as its predecessor Velocity Ultra and as such the things that were not broken, such as the overall gameplay mechanics, have been left intact however new features and gameplay elements have been introduced to make the game different; thus a lot better, bigger and more entertaining.

Make of my metaphors what you will but if you’ve played Velocity Ultra before you’ll get a rough idea of what I’m referring to; of course if you’ve yet to sample Velocity then the past two paragraphs were pretty much pointless.

Velocity 2X_PS4_Review_Screenshot1

Either way let’s get started; Velocity 2X is the 2D vertical space-shooter come platformer that sees Lt. Kai Tana attempting to escape the grasp of her alien captors as well as find her way back home. It’s a storyline that may seem relatively simple but as it progresses we get to uncover more about the alien captors as well as Kai’s new alien companion Hjun Ralan III. As you would expect this is only a brief sample of what to expect from the story and with thanks to Futurlab’s unique art style the story is told in between missions through various text-only cut-scenes, each of which feature some visually stunning artwork and backdrops.

This story takes place as 50 different levels within the games main campaign, with each level featuring a text-based cut-scene before and after the mission. Some players may find this annoying, as they might want to dive straight into the gameplay, but in reality it actually sets the tone of the game quite well as it is always keeping the player informed of what they are doing and why. Of course in hindsight space shooters don’t really need a story, Space Invaders or Galaga for instance, but it’s nice to have that added depth to the game, something which Velocity 2X has lots of.

Velocity 2X_PS4_Review_Screenshot4

For starters completing the story might seem like the main objective of the game but in reality this is a deception as it is all about completing the levels as perfectly as possible. You see each level is broken down into four different categories; Time, Rescue, Crystals and Points and depending on how well you do depends on the overall grade awarded. Basically Speed and Perfection is key and while it might sound simple its extremely challenging; This is where Velocity’s addictive replay style comes into effect, whereby that “one more go” approach can turn into several hours of gaming. For example you may receive a perfect score on speed and rescue but you may have missed out on crystals or bonus points and as such may result in the level being replayed.

Fortunately the effort you put into ‘perfection’ is not wasted; as all of the scores achieved will be uploaded directly to the online leaderboards (if connected) upon completion of the level. However while this is useful, and competitive with friends, it can be problematic and cause long waiting periods if you are on a slow internet connection or if the Playstation Network is currently suffering online issues. Personally I would’nt have noticed this but with the recent PSN downtime I ended up having to wait several minutes before being able to progress on with the game, so I can only assume the same ‘waiting period’ will appear on slow internet connections.

Velocity 2X_PS4_Review_Screenshot5

In terms of gameplay it’s pretty much the same as before, whereby players guide their ship through narrow crevices in order to collect escape pods, defeat enemies and escape the area; however in this instalment things get a little more complicated. For starters at certain points within the level players will need to dock their ship and control Kai herself through the interior of the enemy structure. It adds a whole new twist the gameplay and even though it’s a simple new addition it sparks additional gameplay time and enjoyment.

For example in the previous game you had to shoot out numbered locks in order to progress and after a while it became rather repetitive; the same is apparent in Velocity2X but this time players may need to shot locks 1 and 3 in their ship while locks 2 and 4 will be hidden away inside the structure.  While the option for shooting locks does appear quite often, and quite early on, in Velocity 2X it doesn’t get as repetitive due to the inside structure always being different. The first structure you enter may have no enemies or traps, but the second structure may so even though it may look the same, in terms of style and design, you’ve always got to be on your toes.

Velocity 2X_PS4_Review_Screenshot3

Of course it’s unfair to compare Velocity 2X to its predecessor as many improvements have been made and not just visually either. The ability to control Kai in certain areas of the game is of course the biggest new addition to the game and as such everything her ship can do she can also do  – so if you want to fire lasers, bombs or even warp past a blocked path this is all possible. Another new and interesting feature is the amount of unlockable bonus content that has been added; most of which are hidden away in various areas of the level; but some do appear in the open. The unlockable content can vary but it overall further expands the depth of the game and adds some additional replay value, as some items can only be achieved by going back after obtaining (or learning) certain abilities.

Interestingly the biggest new addition to Velocity 2X is the introduction of fully fledged boss fights and these aren’t easy either. The boss fights are reminiscence of the insanely difficult boss fights found in all Japanese shooters whereby they fire an insane amount of bullets and have a large health bar. Fortunately for us they have a generous sized health bar but they do attack with a lot of bullets.  Sounds difficult right? Well no actually because if you die you simply respawn at the nearest checkpoint but more importantly any damage you caused to the boss will still be apparent.

velocity_2x_boss_battle

I must give credit to Futurlab for making the game easily accessible and with the limitation of lives being removed it doesn’t matter how many times you die as you’ll still be able to finish the game. Like I mentioned previously the real objective is to achieve perfection; not to complete the story.

So what does Velocity 2X offer? Well it’s a 2D fast-paced vertical space-shooter with platformer elements, it offers high-speed action, boss fights and plenty of unlockables in a tightly packed visually artistic game with a fair amount of gameplay content…. Oh and did we mention it’s cross-buy compatible as well? Put simply this is a game you must own.

Pros:

– Cross Buy Compatibility
– Cross Save Compatibility
– Intense high-speed gameplay
– Variety of unlockable content
– Simple and Effective Control layout
– Entertaining and progressive storyline
– Highly Detailed 2D Artwork and Visuals
– Addictive ‘One more go’ approach to gameplay
– Combination of Vertical Space-Shooter and Platformer Gameplay

Cons:

– Potentially lengthy waiting periods while scores are submitted to online leaderboard

Overall: stars-10-9

Velocity 2X is now available to purchase from the Playstation Network Store and it is cross-buy compatible; so you will receive access to both the PS4 and PS Vita versions of the game for a single-price.