Futurlab have come a long way since releasing a little known game called Velocity as a PS Mini. Along with games such as Surge and Coconut Dodge, Velocity itself has also seen a remaster for the PS Vita and finally a proper sequel and for those in the know, one of the most anticipated games of the year.
Velocity 2X on the surface is more of the same, with what could seem some pretty needless additions just because it needed to have something new. However, the minor improvements to the UI, the controls and the more obvious new gameplay elements make for a sequel that improves on the original in every way, which in itself is impressive, when you consider how good Velocity Ultra was.
From the preview screenshots and videos you should be well aware that the biggest addition to the game is the new platforming levels, that see you control Kai on foot for the very first time. Initial fears that this could be a step too far for Velocity are soon calmed when you play these levels for the first time.
The precision that you need in the flying parts of the game are here in the platform levels and everything just feels like Velocity, despite literally bringing in a completely different genre and seamlessly weaving it into the original concept. This is where the team at Futurlab have really managed to show their talent.
It would have been easy enough to have the flying and platforming sections as independent levels and that would have still seen a fantastic experience. Yet, these two different elements make up single levels, mostly starting off with flying sections, before needing to enter a portal and go through a platforming section to unlock the next area of a level for flying.
Whilst this works great in critical urgency levels, where speed is the key element, they stand out as spectacular when it comes to playing the giant puzzle maps, that require you to work out a way through the map, often repeating visits to previous areas, before going back to others, gradually unlocking the gates to move further.
There are 50 levels overall each with a series of objectives that lead up to an eventual perfect run, which is completing all objectives to 100% in the specified time limit in a single run. The game teases you early on as getting a perfect in levels one to five is fairly easy, but then it becomes much more difficult, but never once feeling out of reach.
There are also various bonus levels to find and unlock which are very small mini games completely separate to the main game, so as not to interfere with the core experience. In fact, it is very hard to find fault with Velocity 2X, it is cross-buy, cross-save and on PS+ for the first month. Out complaint was going to be that we want more than the 50 levels on offer, but it seems that even then there may be more coming is the day one patch notes are true.
Velocity 2X works on so many levels, bosses are beatable, but the balance is spot on so that they are challenging without being unfair, but also they don’t come across as a minor inconvenience. Some become big levels in themselves, having you shoot from your ship, before entering the boss itself and doing some platforming.
Different powerups and skills are introduced at a perfect rate throughout the game and always keep it feeling fresh, even offering a lovely twist on the game (and maybe a hint as to what DLC may be?) very, very late on. You can also use the newly discovered weapons and skills to go back to earlier levels and access areas you couldn’t before, unlocking bonus content.
Even if you finish all the core game on offer, there are leaderboard which add some longevity as you try and get the best score possible. Early levels pretty much see most people grouped on the same points, but later levels have a massive spread, so you know there is always room for improvement.
The same cannot be said for Velocity 2X, it is hard to see where they could improve on what they have produced here. It is a game that us open to everyone, but rewards those who are willing to put in extra effort, it doesn’t exclude anyone and it a proper game, something retro for the modern era. We played on both the PS4 and PS Vita and if we are being honest, we couldn’t find a clear favourite way to play, it just works wonderfully well on both systems.
Futurlab made a bold claim that Velocity 2X is the game of the year 2014… They are not wrong.