Eurogamer 2013: Velocity 2X

I’m not really a Sony guy; I have spent the requisite time with standout exclusives such as the Uncharted series, but they’ve only been passing visits.  I suppose if you had to categorise me, I’d sit snuggly somewhere between PC and Xbox, read into that as you will.  I say this for no other reason than to underline the impact of a Sony game catching my eye.  The title in question was PS4 / Vita side-scrolling platformer Velocity 2X from FuturLab.

Building on the success of the 2012 award winning PlayStation Mini’s title Velocity, this sequel has made the transition from downloadable to full scale release and I got to spend some time with the art director to check out a few of the game’s demo levels.

For the uninitiated, Velocity attempted to inject some life and originality back into the top-down shooter by introducing the ability for the player to teleport around the battlefield in order to access hidden areas, branching paths or simply to avoid enemy fire.  The twitch style gameplay with its trademark teleportation based puzzles and movement returns in full force for the sequel.

Anyone who’s ever played a game from this genre will feel right at home with Velocity 2X as the controls balancing the 360 degree shooting and teleportation mechanics were easy to get to grips with, even for someone who’s never picked up a Vita before.  It might take a minute to get used to timing the teleporting properly, but when you get the hang of it there’s a real sense of achievement to be felt in zipping around the environment. This can then be amplified by using the game’s scroll speed modifier to add an additional level of challenge and excitement, although it can be just enough rope to hang yourself sometimes.

The game isn’t all about gunning down waves of enemies though, as you’ll have to solve number of puzzles in order to continue along your journey.  In the demo I played, I came across a gate that could only be opened by flipping a number of switches.  It was here that I came across Velocity 2X’s most notable addition.  On top of a solid top-down shooter, the game goes the extra mile by introducing 2D side scrolling sections that take the player outside of their ship, making the whole thing feel like a cross between Ikuagra and Metroid.

As the teleportation mechanic also comes into play when you’re outside of the ship, the platforming has more of a puzzle focus than the typical side scrolling shooter.  Using a gameplay style similar to the trial and error physics mechanics of Angry Birds, the player can use the Vita’s touch controls to throw a teleportation beacon. This device is not only used to zip around the environment and avoid obstacles, but also to defeat enemies.

In my hunt for the remaining switches, I came across an enemy that could only be damaged from behind, requiring me to use the teleportation beacon to flank him and shoot him in the back.  Though not as frantic as the main sections, it keeps the games focus on reactions and elevates it beyond a simple run and gun platformer.   It’s also a testament to the clever level design and power of the teleportation device in that I was able to manoeuvre past an obstacle in a way that seemed to come as a surprise to the team around me, sneakily bouncing the device off of the walls rather than jumping up on the platforms as was intended.

Completely rebuilt from the ground up, everything in Velocity 2X feels like it has stepped up its game; from the unique gameplay additions to the absolutely gorgeous art direction that injects an excellent use of colour and brings the sci-fi world to life.  For a long time the Vita has struggled, desperately trying to find a break out title that makes it a must own system and while I don’t think we’re there yet, Velocity 2X is the best case I’ve seen put forward so far.

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