Velocity Ultra Preview
There was a time when top-down space shooters dominated. They'd come in horizontal and vertical formats and they were a staple of the industry. Of course, that was back in the day when decent stories, writing, character development, and full 3D environments hadn't yet graced the interactive realm. Games in those days relied almost exclusively on reactions with a wee bit of strategy and planning mixed in. And that's precisely what you get with the old-school Velocity Ultra, a slick, fast-paced, retro shooter that's coming to the PlayStation Vita.
If you didn't already know, this is a big update for Sony's portable. The game was originally a PS Mini title called simply Velocity, and now FuturLab is going all out to give us an appropriate high-def experience on the go. So, the game that won multiple awards as a Mini is given the chance to shine in a more technologically advanced universe. This anticipated upgrade boasts Trophies (including a Platinum), a totally overhauled graphics display, an art work revamp, and a complete recreation of the cut-scene stills. The result appears to be a polished throwback shooter that, as the features trailer indicates, is just "sh**loads of fun."
The team has worked hard to "unify the art style throughout the game by ditching pixel art in favor of the edgy cartoon style." Plus, with the addition of fresh visual effects (there are some spectacular lighting effects in the demonstrated gameplay), the game should be a feast for the senses. It's interesting to check out some of the comparison screenshots; you get a good idea of the significantly ramped-up presentation. And the best part? The enhanced graphical capability won't affect the gameplay experience at all, as the game will still run at a silky smooth 60 frames per second. Yeah, well, we didn't have 60FPS in the olden days.
Basically, FuturLab is saying you should consider this to be a Director's Cut, in that everything they wanted to do the first time - but couldn't - has now been included in the Vita iteration. As for the basic control, it should be quite streamlined and accessible. Bombs are mapped to the right stick, for instance, and you just touch the screen to teleport. We don't know if they're using any of the Vita's motion-sensing capabilities, but we doubt it. As for the touchscreen function, this game may be too fast and furious to make that touch teleportation 100% effective. But you never know; if it's done correctly, it should work out fine.
Velocity Ultra was supposed to release in May, but it got pushed a little. It's now set to release next week, on July 2. The game enjoyed some seriously impressive review scores when it initially released as a Mini, and the developers promise that this new version will be "bug-free." You also might be interested in the soundtrack, which has been lauded as one of the best in the indie world. I still remember the score from Shatter, which is a fantastic downloadable title with a kick-ass set of electro tracks. Velocity Ultra should be an equal joy to listen to and play!
6/27/2013 Ben Dutka