Content Test 3

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Velocity 2X
Graphics: 9.1
Gameplay: 8.8
Sound: 9
Control: 8.9
Replay Value: 9
Rating: 9
Publisher: FuturLab
Developer: FuturLab
Number Of Players: 1

If your PlayStation Vita has been gathering dust lately, I feel your pain. And while Velocity 2X is also available on the PlayStation 4 (and it’s every bit as fantastic on that platform), I still say you should snag the latest from FuturLab for Sony’s portable. It’s just such a spicy little piece of yesteryear in your hand, and it’s perfect for on-the-go entertainment. It has that essential pick-up-and-play quality and despite the tedium of travel (stuck on a bus, train, or plane?), this will inevitably put a smile on your face.

The beauty of Velocity 2X stands out immediately. The artistry is top-notch and the awesome special effects continue to be a highlight throughout the experience. There are rich textures and excellent color contrasts, and the Vita captures the remarkable quality of the visual presentation. It’s smooth and fluid and you will encounter a wide variety of atmospheres and environments. Basically, if you’re familiar with various old-fashioned 16-bit titles, all you need to do is imagine them, and then add several coats of modern-day polish, flash and panache.

To match the splendid graphical display, FuturLab tapped Killzone composer Joris de Man and his audio creations are perfect for Velocity 2X. Fast-paced and boasting bombastic bass, this soundtrack amplifies and intensifies your virtual ass-kicking. The crispness of the effects also gel with the effectiveness of the visual effects and overall, the sound is appropriately high-octane. It always impresses me that the Vita can produce such technically accomplished games; the system’s prodigious capabilities lend the graphics and sound a startling clarity.

The original Velocity was a top-down shooter that implemented several new features, which allowed it to stand out from the standard retro crowd. The sequel goes above and beyond by refining the previous formula and once again adding more content. This time, we get several platforming stages that will remind veteran gamers of iconic games like Metroid. It would be a mistake to assume that such levels are merely tacked on for the sake of variety; these are fully-realized, well-designed segments. You’ll get just as much enjoyment out of them as you will the regular space-shooting sections.

You play as Kai Tana (get it?), who is a Samus-like heroine with biometric enhancements. She’s a fun, feisty, extremely capable character who can tele-dash through walls. Her spacecraft can do the same thing, by the way, and teleportation is definitely a big part of the adventure. There are many instances where Kai Tana can exit her ship and explore other spaceships, and FuturLab seamlessly blends this with the platforming segments. You will have to tackle some puzzles, blast a lot of unsavory foes, and collect some essential goodies; the cornerstones of a great action/platformer.

Above all else, you will invariably notice the intense, pressing pace. Regardless of whether you’re piloting your spaceship or running around outside, the speed of the game is always through the roof. It’s absolutely blistering and this is precisely what makes it so attractive. You’re always engaged in the on-screen action and thanks to tight, responsive control, you’re not overmatched. At first, you might think this is merely a technically upgraded version of the games you used to love as a child. However, the more you play, the more you’ll stumble across much-appreciated depth.

Kai Tana will earn various skills and abilities, and there are plenty of different weapons to find. Toss in the diverse and exotic locales and you’re not likely to get bored any time soon. All that being said, repetition is indeed part of the experience. It’s inevitable when you’re talking about a relatively simple, straightforward game. One could argue that immersion is indeed very subjective, and some gamers don’t find certain game types repetitive. However, there’s no denying that without a more complex theme and structure, repetition is just part of the experience.

The levels aren’t too long, which is why it’s a perfect game for the Vita. You’re not always in a situation where you can play for hours and hours; most times, you have less than an hour. On top of which, you don’t want to get too emotionally involved in a hugely in-depth game. You just want a way to pass the time, right? So, pick up this game, zip about for a while, and you’ll probably emerge breathless, even if you only played for a half-hour. Plus, you get cross-buy and cross-save support, so there’s no reason not to download the game on your PS4, too.

And hey, just because the missions are short doesn’t mean the content is lacking. There are over 50 missions in all, and there’s a bunch of collectibles to find, too. If you’re a perfectionist, you’ll want to nab every last one and if you’re a hardcore speed-runner, there’s opportunity to test your skills. In other words, there’s no reason to completely abandon the game after you’ve finished it. Even if you don’t revisit, you’ll be satisfied with the adventure, which pushes you forward at breakneck speed. If you don’t get caught up, there’s seriously something wrong with you.

Velocity 2X is the perfect example of simplicity with kick. The beautiful visuals and silky smooth animations never skip a beat, the music and overall artistry gives the game a singular appeal, the wonderful flow keeps us completely engaged, and for the most part, the game never skips a beat. You can’t really avoid at least some semblance of repetition, and there isn’t a gigantic difference between each gameplay segment, but that’s okay. If you’re looking for a game that will accompany you on your travels, take your Vita along and make sure Velocity 2X is on it.

The Good: Gorgeous, inspired artistry and animation. Great soundtrack and special effects. Fantastically fast and engaging pacing. Top-notch level design. Tight, responsive control. Simple yet wildly addictive.

The Bad: A little repetitive, and that can’t be helped.

The Ugly: “Way too pretty for any ‘ugly.’”

9/5/2014   Ben Dutka