The original Velocity started off as a Playstation Mini game – remember those? They were supposed to be bite-sized games that were easy to play on the go, and whilst some were good, most were not memorable. Fortunately though, Velocity found a new life with an upgraded version for the Playstation Vita, eventually being successful enough to spawn the sequel Velocity 2X.
The plot of Velocity 2X is an almost non-event. It exists to give the little blue things you collect in the game some kind of meaning. You play as Kai, part cyborg, part human, who awakes somewhere in space with a bad case of amnesia . Kai was about to be jettisoned for taking up too much space, but fortunately manages to escape and collect life vessels (the ‘little blue things’). Again, the plot isn’t important, but there are nicely drawn (and surprisingly amusing), static cut scenes to provide something to look at while you wait to proceed to the next level.
About those levels, then. Sometimes mixing two different game styles works surprisingly well. I mean, who would have thought that mixing The House of the Dead with a Learn-to-Type educational game would have created an enjoyable zombie… type-to-shooter? Velocity 2X takes the top-down shooter aspect of Velocity and throws in a bunch of platforming sections. On paper, it sounds like one area could outshine the other, but in fact they’re both good fun.
Let’s focus on the top-down shooter aspect first, as that’s the core of the Velocity franchise. Piloting Kai’s ship through that game’s various areas requires a variety of skills, which are gained over the first twenty or so levels. These include being able to teleport around the level, drop bombs in different directions, and, of course, shoot. For the most part, the teleportation is nice and easy – but when you’re trying to boost through levels with a great amount of speed, the navigation aspect of teleporting becomes frustrating and tedious, as you can sometimes overshoot where you intended to land. Shooting enemies is simple enough, and never overly stressful — except in some boss fights. The controls are very responsive forboth the PS4 and the Vita versions.
Throughout some levels, you will have to shoot switches in a numbered order. At certain points, you’re given the ability to dock into a station and traverse by foot. These sections involve Kai running and shooting switches, whilst also collecting crystals. A platformer lives or dies byhow well the avatar feels and handles. In LittleBigPlanet, the Sackpeople lack any weight and become floaty, whereas inthe recent Rayman games, Rayman himself feels as if he has weight in the world he occupies. Here, Kai feels a bit in the middle – she has weight, but at times feels a little floaty.
Some of the elements from the top-down shooter sections are implemented in the platforming section too, including teleportation. Here, it works better than it does in the shooter sections, as you’re only tasked with teleporting on a 2D plane, rather than teleporting over a flat map. Navigation on this 2D plane is quick and responsive and makes for some enjoyable levels.
The key to traversing each level is speed and efficiency, in terms of how fast you can collect the life vessels that litter each stage. At the end of each stage, you’re given a rating for how many life vessels were saved, how many crystals collected, the time that elapsed, and whether or not you died. Fortunately, each level is no more than five minutes each, so returning in to beat your high score isn’t a chore. The later levels are very difficult to perfect, as you will need to have the time, the collectibles and survive on one life, making it a strong, but worthy, challenge.
Enemies don’t appear often, but when they do they are easily dispatched in most cases.
Sometimes, however, an off-screen enemy will cause a one-hit death. For a game that wants you – and for progression’s sake, almost requires you – to speed through levels, the ability for off-screen enemies to be able to one-hit kill you makes progression or score chasing tedious.
Overall, this is an enjoyable mix of game genres that works well… for the most part. It does feel repetitive at times, and each level does look just like the next with only a few pretty, but forgettable, static cutscenes to separate them. The two genres are handled well. While they don’t stand out as excellent examples of either genre, they are still good fun. Short levels make for great short burst plays.