Velocity 2X is the sequel to the wildly popular Velocity Ultra released last year for the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita by the Brighton based developer FuturLab. The first game was praised for its futuristic art style, fast gameplay, amazing soundtrack, and masterful mixing of game mechanics; but can the latest instalment live up and perhaps even surpass the accolades of the original?
Picking up where the last title left off, we rejoin heroine Lt. Kai Tana and her trusty Quarp Jet, both severely damaged from her last mission, she is now in the hands of an alien race known as the Vokh. While being held captive, the aliens decided to throw in some bits of technological enhancements in order to stabilize Lt. Kai. After some help from a enslaved race and a newly made friend, she manages to escape the clutches of the Vokh and vows to save herself, as well as her newly made friends. The story is told via text pop ups with some wonderful character art, and to my surprise is quite deep when compared to the previous games. On a bad note, I felt that the ending hits a bit too abruptly, but it does feel like a very nice set-up for another instalment of the Velocity series.
Visually the game is beautiful. With extremely vibrant level and character art, each level and area pops and adds a wonderfully futuristic look to the game. Bright neons, deep greens and electric blues mix with the sparks and glows of the spaceships, leaving a great mix of pleasing colour blends; the game is just nice to look at. Levels feel vast, deep, and massive; the design of the hallways and narrow passages mix with the over-sized backgrounds and give a real sense of smallness in what is surely a massive structure. 2D side-scrolling transitions tremendously well into the shoot-em-up sections and overall the game is extremely smooth.
The music and sounds of the game are also splendidly crafted. The noises of space and alien ship warfare are great and really give a depth to the audio of the game. Everything from shattering glass, to even the simple pick-up sound; the audio is top-notch. The soundtrack, as with the first game, is something special. Each level’s music fits the gameplay and pace perfectly. Much like Hotline: Miami, the music feels very much like an integral part of the game.
Mixing both top-down shoot-em-up and 2D side-scrolling gameplay, Velocity 2X does a fantastic job of melding the game styles into one epic adventure. When using your ship to traverse between docks and locations, you’ll be controlling it with the classic scheme we all know and love from classic Shmup games such as my personal favourite 1942. Velocity does mix it up a bit by adding the ability to teleport your ship through and around obstacles and enemies. The teleport mechanic is key to progressing through the game and can come in extremely handy when facing some of the game’s later bosses.
Once you enter a docking bay with your ship, the game changes into a 2D platformer. This controls as you would expect, adding a full 360 degree shooting ability controlled with the joystick. You can also harness the power of dashing, jumping and of course teleportation, both by normal means and throw-able telepods. These pods come in quite handy in the later levels, being used to both ricochet off walls and even trigger in mid-air to help navigate some of the trickier platforming. Each on-foot section is unique, giving each level a great sense of variety. Both styles of gameplay require fast reflexes and smart use of the teleport mechanic. I must say at first I found the platforming controls to feel a bit clunky, and while it doesn’t feel like some of the most pixel perfect platformers like Super Meat Boy, once you get the hang of the flow of the game, you find yourself very pleased with the pace and feel.
One of the most impressive mechanics in the game is the ability to enter bosses. Boss fights start out as a space battle between you and a much larger ship. After dealing some damage you will be given the chance to board the ship, at which time the game then transitions into the on-foot mode allowing you to attack the ship from inside. This clever and unique game mechanic is something I found to be incredibly charming.
The game has over fifty total levels, some of which are hidden and require some finesse to unlock. They also challenge you to get the highest scores and fastest speeds, which, with the included medals system, can become very addicting. While scoring the best grades and times isn’t required for progression through the story, it does give the player and incredible sense of accomplishment.
In the end, Velocity 2X blends together two well-known and well-loved game styles into fantastic, futuristic space poetry. FuturLab presents us with a very meaty game that offers stunning art, visuals and audio, and definitely has a re-playability factor. If you are a fan of shoot-em-ups or platformers, then you’ll want to give this game a shot. If you’re a fan of the original Velocity, then buy without hesitation.