Exactly how a sequel should be…
When a sequel to a popular game comes out, the fans can usually expect minor changes and additional content in the same vein as the original game. This is all nice, avoiding the game breaking changes that every fan fears, whilst offering more of the same. However FuturLab were not content with just offering more of the same, and took the risk of integrating a completely new style of gameplay into their popular Velocity franchise. And boy, does it work!
FuturLab’s supremely playable Velocity has had a journey full of evolution. Starting out as a PSP mini title in which players controlled a small ship in a scrolling shooter that just happened to have teleporting abilities, raising the game from a simple shoot ‘em up to something that also combined puzzle elements and a desire to speed run, the game was then given an overhaul and released as Velocity Ultra on the Vita.
Now, Velocity 2X has arrived for the PS4 and Vita, bringing a storyline, loads more teleporting, scrolling shooter, puzzle fun, and a whole new mechanic.
Players of the earlier Velocity games will feel quite at home when they are zipping their ship, the Quarp Jet, through the levels. Progression through the game will see the player unlock new abilities at a nice pace that ensures the player gets to grips with each ability before opening up the next.
Starting out, the player will discover the need for speed, the driving force to complete a level within a given time to get the highest reward. Then the famous teleporting is introduced, in which a reticule will move the ship through barriers blocking their way. Barriers through which teleportation is not an option will have to be disabled by destroying switches in a certain order, giving the weapons that the player unlocks a use beyond the repelling of alien ships.
The controls are smooth and slick, encouraging the player to aim for perfection. As the game progresses and more elements are introduced, such as teleportational backtracking making the puzzles ever harder, that perfection will be more and more difficult to achieve. The player is scored for their speed through the level, collecting all scientists and gems, and basically not dying. However, Velocity 2X does a great job of compelling the player to go back and try again. It is very tightly done.
Okay, all of this is great and whilst it may be shiny and new, and bring a few new elements to the party, it is one simple addition to the game that really marks Velocity 2X as the perfect sequel. Very early in the game, the player is treated to the delights of being able to get out of the Quarp Jet and actually run around alien buildings with both 2D platforming and shooting gameplay. Yeah, there is a whole other game in here.
Much of this gameplay takes place when it comes to disabling the switches to progress in the Quarp Jet. Those sneaky aliens put some of the switches indoors! But this new side of the gameplay is introduced seamlessly as part of the story.
Y’see, our heroic pilot, Kai Tana, finds herself millions of miles from her home system and captured by an aggressive alien race. With the help of a new found ally, she must first negotiate her surroundings to make it back to her ship. The story is played out with some wonderfully well created story board scenes in between the levels, and players will be able to enjoy the growing relationship with Kai Tana’s ally and the drive to help his people, along with her own struggle to actually get home. Again, it is very well done.
Going on foot, the mechanics are designed to be as close to the ship controlling parts as possible, allowing players to seamlessly move from one section to the other. Kai runs through the levels, jumping from platform to platform to reach her destination or avoid hazards. Her gun can be fired in any direction using the right stick, and teledashing will see her move through walls with ease. It really opens the game up, offering a break from one style of gameplay whilst still feeling so incredibly similar. And there is still an inherent desire to move through each level as quickly as possible.
It could have all gone very wrong. The platforming section of the game might not have been so smooth and easy to slip into, and it could have broken the immersion of the already successful teleporting puzzle shooter sections. But it doesn’t. The two different sections work so well together to make a single perfect package of incredibly addictive gameplay.
It goes without saying that Velocity 2X looks pretty and moves with silky smoothness. 60 fps all the way, glorious lighting effects and an impressive use of colour to break up the potential repetition of space, mean the game is enjoyable to look at whether being played on the Vita or the PS4.
FuturLab have managed to pull off the perfect sequel in Velocity 2X. Continuing the evolution that began with the Mini game for PSP, 2X is more of the same and something completely new. The original Velocity was one of the best games I played on the PSP, and now FuturLab have done it again with Velocity 2X, giving me reason to pick up my Vita on a regular basis. Playing it on the PS4? Well, that’s just lovely. Whichever platform you plan to use, Velocity 2X is an essential purchase. Get it now!