OK, I realise this might be cheating a little. This is supposed to be a retro gaming blog, right? So what am I doing reviewing Velocity 2x – a new game for a current console? Well, I’m going to justify it on two grounds:
- Whilst it might be a new game, Velocity 2x is retro at heart and wouldn’t have been out of place on the old 16 (or even 8) bit systems
- This is my blog so I can damn well do what I like 🙂
So, slightly dodgy justification over with, let’s turn our attention to Velocity 2x. Apparently it’s a sequel (hence the 2x) to a game that I never played, but that’s not important right now. Fire it up and it looks like an old-fashioned vertically scrolling 2D shooter. You pilot your Quarp spaceship (why does all futuristic technology being with a Q?) through the maze of an industrial complex/alien spaceship and must rescue prisoners and collect data cells whilst avoiding/destroying enemies. In order to access certain areas, you will have to destroy shoot switches (sometimes in a specific order) and if you go too slowly, the scrolling screen will catch up with you and you die.
So far, so what? But Velocity 2x has a couple of little tricks up its sleeve to help it stand out from other shmups. For a start, there is a teleporting mechanism. To successfully navigate your way through the maze, you have to teleport into a new area (often populated with enemies meaning you have to teleport quite precisely). This adds an extra dimension and makes it feel a little less linear (even though there is still only one route through each level).
Further adding to the variety is the fact to complete many levels, you have to leave your ship to collect crystals and activate otherwise inaccessible switches. This transforms the game from a good old fashioned shoot em up into a good old fashioned 2D platform game. Platformer and shoot em up all in the same game? I’m sold already. The only way I’d have got more excited would have been if a driving section was also included!
Whilst combining these elements might be terribly innovative in themselves (virtually all Ocean Software’s film licenses of the late 80s/early 90s were based on this idea), it is done with such aplomb that the game instantly becomes a favourite. Early levels introduce you to the basic concept and help you get used to the excellent, tight controls; later levels introduce more challenging elements to keep you on your toes. It can become a little repetitive (apart from the layout of levels, each level essentially boils down to the same thing), but I’ve also found it as addictive as anything. On my first go, I only fired up my Vita to check the game had successfully downloaded. Three hours later, I was still there! The odd difficulty spike can also be a touch frustrating, but for the most part it’s well-judged (and the fact you get infinite lives makes dying significantly less annoying).
Like the rest of the game, graphics feel like an old 8 bit game given some modern day polish. They are pretty small but nicely detailed, whilst the bright, comic book like cut-scenes look great and help to move the narrative along. Sound is similarly 8/16 bitty, but there’s nothing wrong with that. The presentation is great, the game’s addictive, and it brings a couple of new ideas to an old genre. What’s not to like?
Velocity 2x might not have masses of depth, but its mixes together lots of different elements to create a game that is a lot of fun to play. I originally got it free as a PS Plus member but it was so good that when my membership lapsed, I was more than happy to fork out the £12.99 asking price needed to keep on playing it.