Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Pocket Review - Velocity 2X

Prior to release, FuturLab wrote a post on the PS Blog stating why Velocity 2X was Game of the Year material. If you're like me, you probably did a double take on that statement. Sure Velocity Ultra on Vita was a fun game, but could its sequel really be that good? Turns out FuturLab wasn't exaggerating, because Velocity 2X is an absolute blast on the PlayStation Vita.

It helps to explain how Velocity 2X is structured. It might initially seem like this game is simply a fancier version of Velocity Ultra, with more top-down space combat action and a hint of puzzles, but after a couple warm-up missions the main character Lt. Kai Tana gets to hop out of her ship for some lightning-fast, 2D side-scrolling action. From here, the game alternates between the speedy, forward momentum ship sections and the equally fast on-foot areas. Most missions mix these two styles of play very well, though it might take some adjustment at first to be able to quickly adapt when swapping between these unique sections. Despite the difference in how these handle, both modes are very quick and require skill to master, but are forgiving if your reflexes aren't as sharp as you might like.

Velocity 2X is divided up into fifty mission, each broken down into one of three different types. A hostile forces stage means you'd better be prepared to take out a lot of enemies. There are often tons of foes on screen you'll need to defeat or dodge, and some of these stages even end with a chaotic boss fight. The search and rescue levels are the tricky puzzle stages, but are often some of the longest and most interesting in the game. Last are the critical urgency missions, which are all about completing the stage as quickly as possible. Regardless of the type and how it's divided up, all of the stages are fair enough to complete, but will require practice to obtain on perfect score.

While new stages only unlock after a certain amount of XP has been obtained, it's a fair balance that shouldn't require you to grind much at all until later stages. By the time you hit a point late in the game where you might need to replay older stages, you'll likely find that your skills have increased enough to make this a quick and enjoyable process. Seeing how far you've come is one of the delights of Velocity 2X, as a stage that was a challenge the first time around is often much easier down the road. This just shows how well FuturLab handles the ramping up difficulty, allowing you to learn naturally and improve as you play.

Some aspects of the game are a straight throwback to Velocity Ultra. There are still parts where you fly around shooting and bombing enemies while teleporting through walls and destroying numerically ordered barriers. Velocity 2X blends in the on-foot segment rather seamlessly and also makes the whole game more challenging than Ultra, but it is also way more forgiving. Since the main goal in each stage is to complete it as fast as possible while still defeating as many enemies and gathering as many resources as you can, there's no longer a limit to how many times you can die during a stage. The best part is that when you do die, you restart at a nearby checkpoint very quickly, so downtime is to a minimum.

As far as controls go, there's so much to do it might seem overwhelming at times, but FuturLab does a great job of introducing all of the new game aspects little by little. Velocity 2X is a super-fast game, and the Vita version handles things like a charm. This lovely, vibrant game can often seem to be doing too much for your fingers to keep up with, but when you get into a groove and things just flow perfectly, it's fantastic.

The on-foot areas where you control Kai have a slightly different feel from the ship segments, but still require the precision to jump and teledash through walls and enemies. Once you know how things work and have practiced a few times, it's easy to race through the stages. The only time things really slow down at all is when you have to use a telepod as Kai to jump between areas, but it doesn't hurt the flow much. The game is wonderfully paced and will keep you on your toes without getting repetitive. Even the final few stages offer something new and exciting, so don't expect to get worn down with the same old stuff throughout. There's even more of a story this time around, and while it's mostly secondary, the dialogue is often humorous.

Velocity 2X is a gorgeous, colorful game that controls wonderfully, offers a lot of variety, and best of all is just plain fun. Thankfully, all PS+ users will be able to download this one for free at launch, so it's really a no-brainer. Pick this game up and play it until your thumbs bleed, because I'm pretty sure I was getting close to that happening on some of the later stages. Despite being easy to play, Velocity 2X is a tough game to master. This just means you'll want to keep coming back for more. I don't see this one leaving my Vita for a long time, at least until the third Velocity game releases.

Recommended? Yes, this game is as addictive as it is fast. I keep going back for more even after having completed it.
Enjoyed By? Anyone who likes fun will love this. If you have a Vita, get this game.

This game was played on Vita via a PSN code provided by the publisher.

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