At first glance, I thought Velocity 2X was going to be another 2D side scroller for me to sink my teeth into but it turned out to be a little deeper than that, now to explain this, in Velocity you play as Lt. Kai Tana, a space pilot serving the defence forces of earth, she has been sent to another part of the galaxy by flying through the heart of a dead star. This has left her fused with her ship as she looked like she would not survive the journey, so the ship healed her, merging them both together. Now her appearance is a mix of human and cyborg, sexy right? She is then captured by a species called the Vokh, a warlike race that believe themselves to be perfect in every way (because why not?) and she must escape them. She will later be looking for every opportunity to attack them.
Velocity 2X: Xbox One [Reviewed], P.C
Developer: Futurlab Games
Publisher: Sierra Entertainment
Release Date: 19 August 2015
Price: £16.79 [Disclosure: Game copy supplied by Publisher]
Now in terms of gameplay, Velocity 2X has two distinct styles. There is the 2D platforming of course where you control Kai Tana, then there are the top down sections where you control her ship (presumably with her inside it) blasting your way through obstacles or simply accelerating as fast as you can. In the top down segments, the biggest threat seems to be the bottom of the screen (no seriously). As you move forward, it follows you but should you hit an obstacle, it will keep moving and result in your imminent death. Now naturally you have more to worry about than that, like enemy turrets taking pot shots at you and turning the game into a bullet hell shooter at times. This happens a lot during the several boss fights scattered throughout the game.
Each level will usually play out with the same goals in mind, i.e be as fast as you can, pick up all the escape pods, collect all of the crystals and maintain a high score aka kill the bad dudes. One great feature within the game is that if or when you die, you simply respawn with no real penalty other than losing time and some embarrassment. Let’s be serious if the game had a lives system or a system where you had to restart an entire section you would find yourself putting the controller down forever very quick so I am grateful that they have gone for what I like to call “The Super Meat Boy” approach. Now take note of these conditions as the player will be getting scored on them at the end of each level and sadly later on in the game you will need these pieces of extra score to unlock the later levels, when the score cap rises. I wish they hadn’t gone down this route but it does stop people from simply speed running the game to get to the end and claim they finished it when all they did was avoid most of the gameplay.
Another goal, that makes an appearance in every level, is the need to shoot certain numbered targets to unlock new areas by usually turning off barriers etc. This always has to be done in order and the further you get into the game, the more complex it becomes, with you having to shoot different coloured numbers in the right order, some of them can be found at completely different areas of the level. This forces you to use the map and teleport mechanics to locate them and to travel between certain areas of a level. Nowhere did this mechanic annoy me more than on a level called “Labyrinth” it literally lasted about twenty plus minutes and included way too much backtracking for a game that seems to like to keep the pace up. I will, however, admit it was good to see that the developers had not gotten bored towards the end of the game as it is fifty stages long. Not counting the unlockable bonus levels.
Velocity 2X seems to have been designed by people who believe they must make the best use of the Xbox One controller, as you will find yourself using almost every button to use an ability, which helps you to get through each level later in the game. You have your standard move around, jump, shoot etc but as you get further the plot thickens. You begin to make use of your plasma rifle, teleport technology and even an explosive bomb attack for your ship, if your fast firing laser cannons were not enough. Now I have nothing against making actual use of the controller but it really can make you forget what ability you’re needing to use when you’re so focused on jumping through an impossible barrier and then realize that you could just throw a teleport ball and warp to the other side (this actually happened). It’s actually nice to have a lot of mechanics at your disposal in a game, but it really made me have to jolt my memory at certain points, just to remember that pressing Y will probably solve my problem.
The combat in Velocity is all well and good, you shoot at your enemies and you can expect them to explode after a few hits but then once again the plot thickens. Later into the game you find yourself dealing with shielded enemies that you must first lower their shield before you even think about going toe to toe with them. Unless you like dying for a hopeless cause in which case continue. You’ll find that most of your weapons have a real reason to be used, the laser cannons are fast, the bombs do tons of damage to tougher foes and can fire in all four directions. The only weapon I never found must use for was the plasma rifle as it does high damage but only fires forwards and I already had a weapon that did that plus more. Although the damage increase does help out a lot later in the game.
Overall, I believe that Velocity is one of the better 2D platform/top down games I have played in recent years, it values being precise, moving as fast as possible and getting every available bit of score without taking itself too seriously. There is probably going to be a lot of replay value in the game for the player as there are at minimum fifty missions to get all of the high scores on.