If reading isn’t your thing, you can watch our video review of Velocity 2X:
Shoot em’ ups have long been a part of gaming history. They’ve taken form in a plethora of different ways, from top down, to on rail 3D shooters, and often follow the tried and true premise of shoot things now, ask questions later. This has lead the way to a huge surgence, particularly in the 80’s, of crazy space shooters in all shapes and sizes, some even offering to ditch the space theme in the name of creative insanity. Of course, this paved the way for some excellent games, but many often stuck to the same formula, not offering up much in the way of innovation. However, developer Futurlab have not only created a beautifully exhilarating sci-fi shoot em’ up that harkens back to the classics, but manages to fill it with inventive mechanics and blend a platformer into one adventure to freshen up the genre as a whole.
A quirky story is integrated into Velocity’s hectic environment as a means to justify the innumerable amount of baddies you will blast on your travels. Picking up from where the previous title left off, you play as Lt. Kai Tana, a Quarp Jet pilot whose body was incredibly damaged in her attempt to close a black hole threatening the world. Any of her limbs lost in the wreckage are replaced with mechanics by an evil alien race, know as the Vokh, who are hellbent on taking over the world by draining power from stars using wormholes. They wish to use Kai for ship, but upon her awakening after her repairs, she escapes, with the help of a prisoner, “Hjun Ralan III,” an alien whom you take on board, and together you aim to defeat the Vokh empire and travel back to earth.
While it’s not the strongest story, it does a rather admirable job of tying together a cohesive plot, sitting nicely at the beginning of each stage, and moves at a lightening pace akin with it’s gameplay. Lt Kai Tana plays the typical role of certified badass, with carefree, unflinching attitude, cracking one liners and cheeky quips in the presence of danger. Her partner, Ralan, is the stereotypical mild mannered and conservative smarty pants, whose role is usually relaying info to Kai. It serves as a nice treat to structure of the game, but more importantly, each segment is graciously presented through a series of beautiful pieces of digital art. Each of the scenes are brimming with highly stylised charm and personality, toting a fantastic other worldly vibe, splashed with a delightfully pleasant neon tones, and vibrantly colourful stills.
This wonderful style is carried over into presentation, as each of the worlds and stations you travel to evoke a tantilising space thrill, inviting you to blaze through at blistering speeds. Enemies share the same theme in look, but often differ in shape and appearance. Firing off bullets and bombs leads to a spectacle of explosions, booming bright and boldly, with excellently roaring sound design.
Music is also treated splendidly. It follows through with the space theme, and crafts plenty of superbly energetic, and electronically fueled intensity, bursting with a remarkably atmospheric tone. It gives Velocity a magnificent sense of character and charisma, and is a perfect compliment to the overall rapid pace of the game and feels like an almost retro title booted up into HD.
All that being said, gameplay is where it truly shines brightest. Instead of being one single genre of game and locking itself down, it mixes together several different play styles into a sublime single experience. At it’s core it is a top down space shoot em’ up and a very good one at that. There’s always a slight challenge ahead, but you’re always well equipped to take on anything that stands in your way. However, it also contains the DNA of a puzzle and racing game in a big way, while also being part platformer too.
Along with your weapons, you are also granted access to teleporter, both on foot and in your ship, as a well as a telepod you can place return to at anytime. As you progress further on, the levels begin to take full advantage of this mechanic, engaging you to figure out where to go, teleporting at the right moments, dropping pods off at branching paths in order to deactivate all the surrounding switches and find secrets in the process. It takes what could have been an average, “mash the button to win fest,” and gives it a unique aspect of fun and a great sense of adventure. Yes, you fly up in an unchanging linear path, but this makes it much more exciting to navigate.
But personally, it’s the platforming sections here that take the cake. A new method implemented into Velocity’s gameplay, it is a rather genius way of mixing things up both between and within levels. One moment you will find yourself in the vast openness of space, the next your belting it down long corridors at breakneck speeds, collecting gems, defeating enemies and avoiding death from various pitfalls. It works magnificently as controls are tight and precise and level design is given the same clever treatment as the outside. Teleporting, shooting and running all work in tandem and feel natural as you operate the part cyborg heroine. Instead of feeling tacked on, it’s like another self contained game in itself and serves not as a side dish, but as a main course in beefing up the replayability and just overall enjoyment.
Velocity 2X is magnificent gem of a game. Within its 50 levels are an enormous amount of pure adrenaline filled fun and entertainment. While it can be beaten in a few hours, each stage is graded on time and other factors and ranks you accordingly, practically begging you to delve in once more to achieve all golds, easy doubling the replay value and injecting the spirit of a racer in as you thunder down each stage in a fury. The graphics are crisp, clean and gorgeous, gameplay is immensely quick, fluid and fun and a fantastically unique take on classic shoot em’ ups. All in all, this easily makes Velocity 2x an insta-buy heading into this autumn season, being available on both PS4 and Vita.