In 2012 when FuturLab dropped Velocity into our palms, the indie side-scrolling 2-D platformer (mouthful that is) craze was still in its infancy, at least on consoles anyway. It was a breath of fresh air with it’s stunning visuals and unique game-play mechanics. The year is now 2014 and it’s sequel has arrived, could this better the much loved original? Short answer, FUCK YES.
I must make a sad confession. When Velocity 2X was first announced, I wasn’t all that excited. I knew the game would be great due to the pedigree of its developer but I was worried it would just feel the same. When I booted up the game and played the first 10 minutes, I was like “WTF THIS THE SAME GAME G!”. The tight spaceship controls of the Quarp Jet from the original ported effortlessly to the PS4s dualshock. The teleport system stayed simple and relatively untouched. The premise of the levels was still to rescue human survivors and obtain the highest score possible. Overall it felt good to get back playing as LT. Kai Tana.
However something happened, it’s rare that I miss a game feature so completely in its build up to release. So was suddenly and somewhat taken back at what FuturLab had delivered. A simple change which altered the game and made it feel completely fresh and foreign, full control of Kai Tana on a 2-D plane. Out of nowhere the game changes to a horizontal shooter, leading to new challenges. You have to master new weapons, abilities (although the teleport mechanic returns) and get used to a jump mechanic. With all this, the pace which we have come to love with this series isn’t at all sacrificed.
Breezing through and forgetting levels has never been what the series is about, in each level you’re judged on time, number of rescues, crystals collected and points. Nailing of these in each level gives you the coveted “Perfect” level rating. It’s a simple system favoured lately by mobile titles, which may keep you coming back for more. If you aim to get the perfect rating on each of the 50 levels then you’re probably a masochist, achieving this on some of the later levels requires almost super human reflexes, missing a pod or losing a split second due to a pesky jump can cost you hugely. Thankfully much like the last game, restarting a level is fast and almost instant, which is great as you’ll be doing it quite a lot.
Leaderboards also help give the game a competitive edge and adds to its longevity. They are broken down level by level and are split into “global” and “friends”, even before release it’s clear to see that this will prove highly popular. Another neat feature implemented in the PS4 version, is the game fully adhering to the ethos of sharing found on the platform. Scores and in-game achievements are posted on the PS4 news feed and you can also post these to Facebook and Twitter to piss your friends off even more.
The game employs the same beautiful style of futuristic house found in the original and it works just as well. Although seeing as the game can demand serious concentration, this can sometimes be accidentally ignored. Sound effects still pop and thankfully don’t annoy, which can happen in games which tend to have you restarting levels often. The game attempts to throw some story into the mix, but I mostly skipped these to just get into the action and with the cut-scenes being text only with no voice over, I really wasn’t fussed to read what at times can be really text heavy scenes.
The fine folk at FutureLab have done what I thought would be impossible, surpassing the original and striking the right balance of old and new. It doesn’t change too much of the overall game but still adds just enough to insert some variety and new challenges to the formula.The game shines on the PS4 and PS Vita screen (and also employs a handy cross-save mechanic between both devices) and some of the amazing hand-drawn artwork looks better than that found in bigger budget titles. I can’t recommend this game highly enough, Velocity 2X should certainly be picked up by those who like a challenge and by the droves of hardcore completionists who instantly fell in love with the original.
Good luck getting that Platinum!
+ Stunning visuals and artwork
+ Tough yet fair challenges
+ Great new sidescroling elements
– Fairly redundant story