Velocity 2X is Perfect.
Velocity 2X is marvelous. There’s no way around speech or words or vernacular-based hurdles when it comes to Velocity 2X. It’s impeccable. It’s pronounced. It’s that flawless. I’ll say this now, again, one more time, and over at the very end as well; Velocity 2X is perfect.
Velocity 2X is the sequel to the popular and highly regarded Velocity/Velocity Ultra originally developed for the PlayStation 3/PlayStation Vita by FuturLab. While the original Velocity was regarded as a top-down shoot ‘em-up, Velocity 2X masterly expands upon that concept, even though they had no real rhyme or reason to. Had FuturLab announced Velocity 2X in an alternate timeline, where it was just an expansion of new levels and ship mechanics, I believe that we would have all been quite tickled. With most sequels, this is what is expected. FuturLab, however, was not so pleased by such an idea. They even went as far to throw out their old code, starting from scratch, pursuing the new generation of hardware. They hired new programmers in order to not bring a polished approach to a classic genre, but to advance their art style to the next level. These risks, these advances, are beautifully apparent.
The visuals contained within, whether on PlayStation Vita or PlayStation 4, are simply breathtaking. Included in this visual masterwork, is a newly-added 3D camera zoom, dynamic lighting, a particle effect system, post-process VFX and lovely layers of parallax scrolling. Suffice to say, the explosions look pretty darn good. For those looking for a bit more technical specs, Velocity 2X runs at 960×544 natively on PS Vita, 1080p on PS4, with both PlayStation platforms reaching 60fps. No matter which way you play, both methods are more than sufficient. Velocity 2X is not only gorgeous stylistically, including characters and environments and aesthetics, but additionally a vibrant and pulsating world which is not easy to forget. Speaking on the comparison between both PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4, well, that’s a whole bag of worms entirely. Now, usually issues stem from dissimilarities between platforms, but that is far from the issue when it comes to Velocity 2X. The issue is, see, that Velocity 2X is spectacular on both PlayStation platforms. Personally, I began my playthrough on PlayStation Vita, because there’s where I discovered (and subsequently) fell in love with Velocity Ultra. Velocity 2X is wholeheartedly at home on Vita. I spent just under 20-hours of my 30-hour total playing on Vita, and enjoyed every single second. Then, I decided to make the switch to PlayStation 4 in attempt to clean up the last handful of “Perfect” scores I was chasing. Boy, I had no idea how much I was missing out.
While I felt that I was betraying the heart and spirit that I found myself akin to on PlayStation Vita, I needed to at least try Velocity 2X on PlayStation 4. Again, I had no idea on how much I was missing out on. Experiencing Velocity 2X with the DualShock 4 on a full-sized screen, with speakers blasting the amazing sound design as well as the phenomenal soundtrack by James Marsen/Joris de Man, it was a moment of idyllic bliss. I enjoy my PlayStation Vita quite a bit, and it’s not often that I am this conflicted between PlayStation platforms. Simply put, Velocity 2X is superb on both platforms, and it’s such a rare occurrence not to find any glaring technical differences or failings between the two PlayStation consoles. Wherever you choose to play, Velocity 2X is outstanding. Either way, you cannot lose. Velocity 2X doesn’t stop there either. Heck, I haven’t even gotten to the mass of what Velocity 2X really consists of! While the dedication of Brighton-based FuturLab, and the approach they have taken when it comes to Velocity 2X, is infinitely vital, I’m sure that you would like to know a bit more about the actual core of the game! I guess that for you, dear reader, I could do just that.
Velocity 2X begins moments after the first entry in the series concludes. Protagonist Lieutenant Kai Tana makes her triumphant return, albeit not in tip-top shape initially. After being expended to enter the Villo black hole in order to save humanity in the previous title, Kai and her Quarp Jet return once again. Kai is recovered by an alien race, the Vokh, who attempts to bring her back from the brink of death using tech implants, as well as in attempt to study her ship. With the help of an alliance with a new friend, Hjun Ralan III of the Jintinda, Kai is able to escape Vokh imprisonment. She saves her newfound friend, and sets off in attempt to find a way back home.
While Velocity/Velocity Ultra did include narrative threads throughout, the story presented in Velocity 2X not only surpasses the previous title, but also integrates the narrative and gameplay elements many times over. Velocity 2X presents not only a strong sci-fi based narrative, but also strands of neatly woven political sociology as well. Often, software becomes too a bit too self-aware, too preachy, or simply attempts to pack far too many learned ideas into a genre that just doesn’t fit. Velocity 2X eases in such themes, creating a chronicle that never lets up, all the while presenting a history of strife and conflict for the Jintinda and Vokh. Vokh are described as, “quite simply the most perfect, most refined and deserving of all evolved species. (Note: The above statement is typical of how the Vokh view themselves and may not prove entirely objective.) On the flipside, the Jintinda are described using the following, “Pacifism is a tenant of Jintindan civilization engrained not just at the philosophical but also at the genetic level.” Velocity 2X crafts such a compelling background, which only enhances the overall result. This is apparent in spectacular moments, such as when Kai’s newly appointed partner Ralan states, “My people, the Jintinda, are simply not bred with your capacity for violence. We live and die as slave. I wish it were otherwise.”
The power of the narrative and dialogue contained within these brief cutscenes is enormously powerful, far more poignant than the vast majority of not only Velocity/Velocity Ultra, but also across the gaming stratosphere. Having such emotional segments bookend large sections of outstanding gameplay was, and is still, simply unbelievable. Going into Velocity 2X, I expected a return to the addicting gameplay, the fast-paced combat, and of course, the explosions. I expected to feverously attempt to reach a “Perfect” score on each level, eventually chasing after Leaderboard scores. I had so many expectations leading into Velocity 2X, but I never anticipated being so enchanted, so mesmerized, so inexplicably stunned.
These trends continue on in Velocity 2X, not only throughout the narrative, but also singularly because of Kai’s inclusion in the narrative. In a video game world where female characters are often half-thoughts, Velocity 2X once again improves upon the previous title. While Kai may have not been the strongest female lead in Velocity/Velocity Ultra, the metamorphosis that took place between the two titles is monumental. Every time Kai is on screen, she radiates with energy. This is apparent from the ending moments of the prologue, where Kai states, “I should be horrified by what has happen to me but I’m strangely calm, and I have hope to cling to. Perhaps I’ll even have a chance at vengeance. As I lie beneath the sterile lights I look up at the ceiling and clench my first. Yes, I think I’d like that.” Whereas Kai may have fallen into a more stereotypical role in the first entry, Velocity 2X shuns away any of those mediocre memories. Even without the benefit of voiceover work, and singularly depending on written text, Kai is masterfully written. She is resilient, but not without faults. She is vulnerable, but not the point of helplessness. Not only is she simply a strong female lead, but a defining character to add to the PlayStation roster (and if she’s not included in the inevitable PlayStation All-Stars 2, I’ll probably go bonkers).
Again, Velocity 2X does not end there either. Velocity 2X features the aforementioned top-down shoot ‘em-up gameplay now tantamount with the Velocity trademark, but with an entirely new approach. Velocity 2X weaves together not only that classic format, but also includes 2D platforming action as well. While I was timid about this new inclusion, initially, I was blown away by how fluidly these additions played out. I was concerned that these 2D platforming sections would cause exceptionally long breaks from the overall fast-paced action that proceeded. Boy, was I wrong. Not only do these brand new sections merge together those two classic styles, but also it does so more gracefully than I could have ever imagined. Each transition feeds into the next, and each move must play off of the other. If you thought some of the previous Speed Runs for Velocity/Velocity Ultra were ridiculous, just wait until you see Velocity 2X. I cannot wait to see how different players adapt different methods, different skills, and different approaches. Because, in addition to both the classic top-down shoot ‘em-up and 2D platforming gameplay, there are so many new accompaniments to each area.
Of course, the biggest changes come within the 2D platforming sections, where Kai leaves the Quarp Jet in order to search for Rekenium. This newly introduced element serves as the “collectible” item within these platforming sections, and takes quite a bit of skill to perfect. Additionally, the Rekenium is used for a brand new weapon introduced during these portions. While these servings of platforming are undoubtedly the biggest change in Velocity 2X, they’re not too different that players will be shunned away. For the most part, Kai handles similarly to the Quarp Jet, in which you use similar buttons for similar functions. Of course, the biggest difference is Kai’s ability to jump using the X Button, but there are many other small tweaks and changes that are a delight to discover and manipulate as you please.
There are additional tweaks to the Quarp Jet as well in Velocity 2X; the largest (pun intended) is the addition of “Boss Battles” for Kai. Believe me, these are far from your traditional boss battles, and once again integrate the dual format of top-down and platforming. There are other corrections and additions, but again, most of these are best enjoyed through discovery. For the most part, you are still racing through levels, determined to kill anything that moves, and saving every Jintinda citizen possible. The base of Velocity 2X is still in tact from the original title, just exponentially improved across all areas.
It should also be noted, that I had zero technical issues at all during my approximate 30 hours spent across 50 masterful levels with Velocity 2X. Also key to note, that while I did spent quite a bit of time chasing the Platinum trophy, players should be able to complete just the main story in 5-10 hours. For those Velocity 2X maniacs though, with “Perfect” scores to chase, as well as the return of in-depth leaderboards, Velocity 2X can consume far more time as well.
Although I know very little about far too much, I am well aware that the word perfect isn’t one to throw around lightly in the video game landscape. Sure, Grandma’s home baked chocolate chip cookies are perfect, especially with a glass of milk. Sure, scoring the game-winning goal/point/sportsball is a perfect moment. I know that there is an approach maintaining, “No game is perfect!” and instead using other synonymous words like masterpiece, tour de force or magnum opus. But when it comes to Velocity 2X, there is no sidestepping, no misdirection, no ducking the topic. Velocity 2X is perfect.
For more information, check out the Official Velocity 2x Site.