Platforms PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Genre Shoot ‘ em Up, Puzzle Platformer
Platform Played PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Velocity Ultra was one of the best, pure gameplay experiences of 2013, with developer Futurlab providing a frenetic experience that was challenging to master and fun to play, leaving both critics and purists pleased. Velocity 2X is a direct follow-up, one that not only improves on the original design, but innovates on their original vision to implement new elements that do the fast-paced original justice.
Velocity 2X further delves into the plights of Lieutenant Kai Tana, exploring her personality and charm much deeper than its predecessor, due to the fact that 2X allows Kai’s character and the narrative to feel more important; this is partly because of the well-written dialogue that helps portray Kai in a likeable manner, without the need of a voice actor. Kai Tana is the perfect protagonist for Velocity, as her love of velocity, destructive weapons, and explosions allows her character to provide some fun lines throughout.
The main plot sees Kai Tana dealing with the Vohk Empire, an alien race who wants to rule the universe and create their own version of Kai’s Quarp Jet; which is an essential element of the Velocity series. The narrative is told before each level, with cut-scenes taking place on some vibrant artwork, which can be turned off when hunting for high scores. Though the original Velocity Ultra did contain its own plot, the narrative aspects were barely explored and were difficult to follow. Velocity 2X corrects these problems by providing an interesting tale that adds to single-player experience. This isn’t a sci-fi narrative that aims to revolutionise the genre, but it is an added element that made the experience worthwhile.
Though Velocity 2X is available for both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, it definitely feels at home on Sony’s handheld. The smaller display allowed me to easily follow where I was on screen, while the handheld also offered a tighter gameplay experience. The PlayStation 4 version isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, but the fast-paced frenetic gameplay fits the Vita’s smaller screen perfectly. Fortunately, Velocity 2X utilises Cross-Buy and Cross-Save functionality, allowing players to find out which version is right for them, while carrying their save between both versions.
For those new to the Velocity series, the aforementioned Quarp Jet is your only means of transportation. The ship is equipped with a teleportation device, allowing you to rapidly teleport throughout each level. Players control the teleportation mechanics as well as the speed each level is handled; holding down the R button will make the level start scrolling. The Quarp Jet is as maneuverable as it is agile, while also possessing lethal cannon-fire and the ability to launch lethal bombs at enemies.
Mastering the balance between rapid teleportation and scrolling allows for some intense moments while chasing perfect scores. These can only be obtained by killing each enemy, scoring the allotted points, rescuing each survivor/collecting each crystal, while also finishing the level within a certain time limit, without a single death. Though it does take many hours to master, Velocity 2X becomes a whole new experience when aiming for these perfect runs. Utilising every ability becomes second nature as you majestically fly through the level, only to miss out on your perfect run by only a few seconds; before trying once more. The addictive nature of chasing these perfect runs is one of the greatest elements of Velocity 2X, which is bolstered by the ability to instantly restart whenever you please, online leaderboards, and the ability to share your scores to social media platforms.
The beauty of Velocity 2X is that the experience is what you make it. Players can breeze through each level doing the bare minimum if they choose, but later levels may be locked out due to their poor performance. This in-turn encourages players to reach outside their comfort zone, and perfect their gameplay abilities, in order to see each and every level Velocity 2X has to offer.
The biggest inclusion to Velocity 2X are the new on-foot sections, which offer a completely new way to play Velocity. Certain levels will force the player to exit their ship in order to infiltrate a Vohk stronghold, these levels showcasing some of the more complex level-design found in Velocity 2X. Balancing on-foot and ship gameplay sections has allowed for Futurlab to create a bigger and more difficult level-design, which truly tests your skill.
Impressively, these on-foot sections mostly keep the fast-paced gameplay of the Velocity series intact, offering a teleportation dash and the ability to shoot enemies at any angle. Kai’s on-foot controls feel smooth and responsive, though om-foot combat and the new ability to throw teleportation pods in the environment feel out of place.
Velocity is all about fast-paced action and constant movement, which is where these new inclusions abruptly halt that notion. Forcing players to stop in order to throw teleportation devices feels like a contradiction to Velocity’s main premise. This same hindrance is experienced during the on-foot combat missions, which forces players to teleport through their enemies to disable their shield, before shooting them once you reappear. These abrupt design contradictions stand out amongst the fast-paced gameplay, which for the most part provides a flawless experience.
Velocity 2X looks beautiful, offering bright and vibrant hand-drawn visuals throughout each level. The PlayStation 4 version offers a superior visual display over Sony’s handheld, providing a visual experience that looks sharp on a big screen TV; though you’re usually moving too fast for it to alter your experience in a dramatic fashion. Players will visit an array of new locations throughout Velocity 2X, which range from exotic alien planets, moon bases etc., with each offering a varied visual style that keeps the visual flare fresh. Futurlab’s attention to detail is astounding, with the simple inclusion of sparks when your ship is scraping along the environment. Though these are minor details players may miss, I found these subtle touches added to the visual treat on screen.
One of Velocity Ultra’s highlights was the retro soundtrack, though there was only a small selection of songs to enjoy. Velocity 2X brings back Killzone composer Joris De Man to produce an entire soundtrack, this time around. Once again, the music is outstanding, and further emphasises the fast-paced premise of Velocity 2X. The standout track accompanies the Critical Urgency levels, which almost require non-stop movement to perfect. The high intensity retro sound is amazing, making these levels some of my favourite from the Velocity series.
Velocity 2X also contains an extensive library of lore, ranging from information on enemies, allies, planets you visit, and more. The amount of information available reminds me of the original Mass Effect, with the extensive amount of effort placed into explaining how each aspect of the Velocity universe exists, and why. There is also an added prologue option for players who didn’t experience the original Velocity Ultra, alongside bonus levels which are unlocked by finding hidden medals within levels. The added content helps establish Velocity as a franchise, with the lore details satisfying anyone who wants to know more about the universe.
Velocity 2X is the epitome of an outstanding sequel, innovating on the original formula while further refining the original concept. The emphasis on exploring Kai Tana as a character and providing an interesting narrative adds to the overall experience. Velocity 2X also offers a tighter, smoother, and more responsive gameplay than its predecessor, which is showcased brilliantly when hunting down perfect runs. The addition of on-foot sections is an interesting new inclusion, though the abrupt slow nature of some on-foot abilities certainly held these sections back from mirroring the excellent ship sections.
Velocity 2X is one of the best titles available on both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, bringing a unique fast-placed gameplay experience, which is as addictive as it is brilliant.
- Kai Tana’s character is further explored
- Inclusion of entertaining narrative
- Tight, responsive gameplay
- Amazing retro soundtrack
- Some on-foot abilities abruptly halt the fast-paced gameplay
The Score: 9.4