One of my most anticipated PS4 and PS Vita releases was Velocity 2X. Since I completed Velocity Ultra last year, I knew I had to have the sequel then and there. Today, FuturLab has released Velocity 2X, free for PlayStation Plus members with one hell of a marketing campaign behind it. But is this sequel better than the original? Let’s find out.
Velocity 2X is the follow-up to Velocity Ultra and Velocity, a popular PS Mini title. In this shoot-em-up, you play as Lieutenant Kai Tana, a feisty soldier who has just woken up from a painful trip to another galaxy. Velocity 2X picks up a while after the cliffhanger ending that FuturLab left us with at the conclusion of the original Velocity.
Unlike Velocity, 2X features a much stronger focus on story. This time around, FuturLab introduces players to new characters and gives Kai Tana one hell of a personality, solidifying the character behind the controls of the Quarp Jet. Before playing Velocity 2X, I never really thought too much about Kai Tana. As a person, I felt that Kai Tana was underdeveloped in Velocity. Beyond the Quarp Jet, there just wasn’t much to the character. Luckily, FuturLab was on the same track and decided to inject the character with much more personality for this journey.
From the moment Kai Tana utters her first lines in Velocity 2X to her final line in the game, I could feel the emotion from her. During dialogue scenes, Kai Tana’s portrait will react accordingly to what she or the other character is saying. When Kai Tana is focused, she dawns a stern look, whereas if she’s cocky that stern look morphs into a smirk. I found that her smirk was the more common emotion she displayed which seemed appropriate as the character herself regularly mocks the Vokh general.
The game starts out in sterile, mechanical environments reminiscent of the first game before exploring what’s really out there. Velocity 2x does a lot of world building for the Velocity universe. You’ll visit numerous planets, see various locations, and even take on new types of enemies. I was impressed by how much of this universe FuturLab showed.
Velocity 2X is a shoot-em-up with some platforming elements thrown into the mix. Like Velocity and Velocity Ultra, most of your time in 2X will be spent inside of Kai Tana’s ship, the Quarp Jet, shooting enemies, and boosting whenever necessary to get to the end of a level. With this entry, however, players are able to dock the Quarp Jet at certain locations within each level so Kai Tana can get out for platforming segments.
During these parts, Kai Tana’s move set perfectly mirrors that of her Quarp Jet. Everything from her cannon to teleportation system is translated well to on-foot movements. Going from Quarp Jet to running around on the ground is effortless. In some ways, the platforming outshone the other parts of the game.
Velocity 2X reintroduces many of the gameplay elements found in its predecessor and expands upon them before establishing some new bells and whistles of its own. Velocity players will feel very familiar playing Velocity 2X. Speed is key during the first half of the game as you weave in and out of obstacles and enemy fire to pick up survivors before hitting the end of a level. Slowly the gameplay gets more complicated — which I will address momentarily. As I mentioned before, Kai Tana can get out of her ship for platforming section of the game. Here, I felt Velocity 2X really shined. Teleporting as Kai Tana gave me the greatest sense of speed that I’ve ever had. Never before have I felt quicker than I did while I was teleporting between corridors as the cyborg lieutenant. Even shooting enemies and seeing their mechanical bodies explode in a flash of light gave me a great sense of satisfaction.
Weaving in and out of and returning enemy fire is a blast and playing as Kai Tana herself is some of the most fun platforming I’ve experienced but this all comes to a grinding halt about halfway into the game. Here Velocity reintroduces telepods, devices that let you teleport to a previous location in a level while in your ship, or reach new heights as Kai Tana. Theoretically this should be fun but the way it’s handled reminded me of a running back fumbling a beautiful play in an otherwise flawless game. Speed takes a backseat as Velocity focuses on micromanaging where all the switches are and which ones you’ve disposed of. Levels that should take no more than two or three minutes stretched out to six or even eleven minute affairs of me teleporting throughout parts of the level and scouring the map for the last switch I had to deactivate. I got frustrated whenever I realized just how many switches I would have to destroy.
Like most of the gameplay, telepods during Kai Tana’s platforming feel familiar but function differently. While you can deploy them in Kai Tana’s ship, when on foot, using the analog stick or d-pad will allow you to aim the telepod so Kai Tana will lob it in a certain direction. This allows her to reach previously inaccessible parts in previous levels or get past a few pesky plates of fire. The feature works better than it does in the ship sections simply because these platforming parts aren’t as large, but it’s still not without fault. Often times I struggled to control the direction to throw my telepod, but this became less of an issue when I realized I could just teleport quickly after throwing in a general direction.
New to Velocity are boss battles which take place every so often. These battles see you using your latest skills to take on one boss multiple times throughout the game. Initially they’re interesting because of how they mold all the gameplay mechanics together. You’ll destroy switches to bring down his shield so you can dock your ship inside his. Then you’ll get out on foot and destroy more switches to further deplete his shield before getting back into your ship for the final blow. I was really impressed at first but after realizing I was fighting the same boss with longer battles each time, things started to get repetitive. Once exciting battles became another obstacle I had to overcome to get to the next level.
Graphics & Audio
Velocity 2x is an absolutely beautiful game. There’s so much attention to detail. Every action is complimented by an impressive effect. Teleporting on foot looks gorgeous as Kai Tana forms a brief after image which could turn into a collage of sorts if done consecutively. Even little things like activating your boost on foot has such attention to detail as sparks radiate over Kai Tana’s suit, charged and ready to propel her forward.
Velocity 2X is every bit as good and so much better than Velocity Ultra. 2X manages to take the mechanics established in the first game and expand upon them with platforming segments, more locations, impressive visuals, and an amazing sense of speed. Without a doubt, Velocity 2X is the best addition to the PS4’s PlayStation Plus line-up yet.
+ Amazing sense of speed
+ Gorgeous visuals
+ Great story
– Telepods take away from the fast nature of the game.
– Boss battles can be repetitive