Velocity 2X released digitally on September 2nd for Playstation 4 and Vita, but does this title have what it takes to cement itself as one of 2014’s digital standouts? Find out in our Velocity 2X review.
Velocity 2X begins with a short cut scene before the first level, and this formula is repeated throughout the game, as still-frames of animation are overlayed with short dialog boxes. Players are introduced to Kai, the main character, a human female whose body has been augmented with cybernetic parts after she was rescued from wreckage by a friendly alien named Ralan. Unfortunately, Ralan’s race is enslaved by a violent, war-mongering race known as the Vokh. It becomes your mission to escape and help Ralan free his people. Although the artwork is very well-done, the story here adds very little, and only serves to give context to gameplay; I found myself enjoying reading along, however.
Each of Velocity 2X’ fifty levels fall into one of three types: Hostile Forces, Critical Urgency, or Search and Rescue. This adds variation, the least subtle of that being the Critical Urgency levels, requiring near constant boosting and precise use of bombs and teleportation to perfect. Hostile Forces levels focus more heavily on dispatching enemies, but also contain generally straight-forward series of switches that must be activated by shooting or bombing them. Search and Rescue missions act more as maze-like levels, with players being tasked with finding the proper order to activate switches. These levels are still simple, for the most part, but do add a bit of tedium to the game as you drop telepods at branching points of the map, traveling back to them after activating multiple series of color-coded switches only to reach another branching path and do it all over again. It is worth mentioning that the camera zoomed in very closely on Kai in a few of the on foot sections, and trying to keep up with her speed as the camera was uncomfortably close strained my eyes.
Rescuing survivors is a simple matter of navigating your ship over them, and there is a bit of margin for error as their stasis pods gravitate toward your ship as long as it is in close proximity. Rescuing survivors is just one aspect of the game, however, as you’ll also need to vanquish enemies to earn points, and collect pink crystals, found in on-foot areas within levels as Kai docks her ship to search for switches needed to deactivate security gates. Fortunately, nearly all of the crystals and survivors are easy to spot and the focus is on speed, rather than searching, though a few levels will require repeated searching to complete. XP is awarded at the end of each level based on the time it took to complete the level, the number or survivors rescued, the number of crystals collected, and the number of points earned. Gaining XP is required to unlock further levels of the game, but Velocity 2X is not so strict as to require the maximum amount of XP, so most players will be able to unlock all levels and complete the game.
Velocity 2X’ early missions serve as a tutorial of sorts, acquainting players with the basic control scheme of your ship: either the directional pad or the left analog stick control your ship, holding square activates short range teleporting, X fires your primary weapons, circle or the right stick fire bombs, triangle deploys teleporter, allowing you to return to it by double tapping triangle, L1 calls up a map of the area, and finally R1 activates boost. If the control scheme sounds a bit complex, that’s because it is. Most gamers will suffer frustrating deaths until their hands are able to build the muscle memory required. Luckily, after some practice, you’ll find the controls tight and responsive, although even then an awkward feeling persists. I completed all fifty levels, including thirty ‘perfect’ awards, and while my proficiency improved markedly, at no point did the controls begin to feel second nature.
On foot, Kai controls essentially the same; she is able to teleport through thin barriers, deploy a telepod for long-range teleporting, fire a cannon rather than bombs, sprint while R1 is depressed, and shoot a full 360 degrees with the right analog stick. This works well, for the most part, but on-foot sections tended to have their flow disrupted as you cannot fire your weapon while sprinting. In my experience with the game, I got so used to the sense of speed from constantly sprinting through levels that I would forget to release R1 as my thumb instinctively pushed the right analog stick in the direction I wanted to fire, only to be annoyed when nothing happened. Pressing triangle to prompt Kai to drop a telepod was a simple enough affair, but throwing the telepod to access some areas brought all movement to a halt as she stood in position while I held triangle and adjusted the arch of the throw with the twitchy left analog stick. I appreciated the attempt to add other elements to the game, but simply dropping the telepod would have been enough.
Velocity 2X contains a number of unlockables, as well, such as dairy entries from Kai that add a bit to the story, concept art, detailed information on planets, enemies, alien races, your ship and its weapons, as well as twenty-five bonus levels a mini-game. The unlockable content is largely forgettable, though, as most players will find themselves skimming it once, solely for the sake of a trophy. The bonus game offers a short-lived bit of fun, but can be completed in less than fifteen minutes with little reason to play again. Forgettable can likewise be used to describe the game’s music and sound effects–they aren’t bad, just serviceable. Telepoting, whether in ship or on foot, does produce a satisfying sound effect, however. Even the ending of the last mission feels a bit forgettable as it ends so abruptly that it feels almost anti-climactic. Thankfully, Velocity 2X’ gameplay offers a fun, rewarding, challenge over the course of its infinitely re-playable main campaign that make these relatively minor gripes easy to overlook.
Velocity 2X has quite a bit to offer in terms of fun, challenging gameplay, but an at times clumsy control scheme, forgettable side-content, and anti-climactic finale spell the difference between truly great and pretty good.