This could be the most difficult review I’ve ever written, or indeed the easiest I’m ever going to write, but bear with me because Velocity 2X is quite simply the best Xbox One digital only title on the marketplace.
Yes, it’s better than the stunning Geometry Wars 3 and it’s more fun than the brilliant Peggle 2.
Velocity 2X is so good that it’s currently pushing a few AAA titles down the pecking order!
Sierra and FuturLab have delved deep into their skills to bring us a sci-fi puzzle platformer-cum-vertical shooter that has quite obviously had so much love put into it that at times it makes me want to cry. It’s graceful and destructive; seductive and rewarding. It’s the near on perfect game.
After being abducted by a race of hostile aliens, Lt. Kai Tana, a humourous but deadly serious badass, must use all her skills and fast running in order to infiltrate space stations, moon bases and alien planets as she disrupts the evil Vokh Empire. Hopping into her powerful Quarp Jet, and leaving her platforming prowess behind, she’ll need to rescue enough survivors on each level as she looks for an escape…and her way home.
Split across two main forms of gameplay, both the puzzling platformer side of the action and the vertical shmup sections are of extremely high quality. With controls to die for and a subtle but obvious switch between the two forms, Velocity 2X is a super fast paced rush through space that has grabbed me like no other game this year.
Whilst on foot, laser rifle in hand, Kai must jump, slide and dash her way through sections that are filled with collectible Rekenium shards, enemies galore and switches that need to be hit in order to open up the way for her to jump back into her Quarp Jet and make good her escape. With levels being cleverly and intelligently designed, a telepod system that allows her to teleport her way out of trouble and a teledash giving her the chance to magically fly through both walls and bad guys, even after many hours of playing the game, I still feel like I’m not doing it full justice. At times I can get a flow going to such a degree that muscle memory kicks in and I’ll freely move from obstacle to obstacle, platform to platform in the most glorious of ways. And there are other times when I’ll slowly make my way through the stage, stuttering and fumbling as I go about helping Kai escape.
But no matter which way I’m going about things, I’ve had immense fun throughout, never getting bored and always looking forward to the next objective, with the game seemingly happy for me to struggle along if need be.
The same goes for those times when Lt. Tana jumps into her fast shooting and faster flying Quarp Jet. Leaving the platforming behind, the Jet brings about a ton of shmup gameplay that is quite simply the best I’ve played for many a year. With forward facing lasers dishing out the biggest damage and a push on the right stick firing bombs in all directions, explosions will engulf your life as you head forwards and up the twisty enemy ship filled areas that are put in front of you. With the teledash system making its way from the platforming Kai and the option to drop telepods at any point in time, you can be sure that as you search out your way home, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that safety is just a stones throw away.
There are times when you’ll get a little lost and the slightly confusing coloured objectives do begin to mould into one big mashup on the latter levels, but a well thought out map which gives you the opportunity to scan the surroundings for your next move is a great help. Just remember though, as the game is quick to remind you, if you’re ever stuck at a fork in the road – head left!
As you play through Velocity 2X, completing levels as you go, you begin to earn XP. With various targets being set for each stage, the replayability factor is extremely high and whether you decide to blast through each section in the quickest time possible, collect the maximum amount of survivors you can or nab as many Rekenium crystals as possible, chances are you’ll need to go back over each and every stage multiple times in order to gold medal each one. In fact, with the very last ‘perfect’ target comprising hitting all of the above in one foul swoop, we’d hazard a guess that you could well be going for a number of months in your quest to perfect the free-flowing muscle memory style required to succeed.
With 50 levels in all, perfecting that style will come, eventually, and with new skills and tougher opponents being dripfed cleverly, the whole game plays out very much like one big tutorial, easing you into things as you go. It is only when you finally get the hang of everything, taking in the vast majority of the stages as you go, when you’ll start thinking back to how you will be able to take on an earlier stage again, discovering what is needed to earn that higher medal in the process.
Throw in extra content in the form of the Critical Urgency pack for when you’ve perfected the art of teleporting at high speed, the Dual Core pack for some slightly scary but amazing dual ship control, giving you the chance to test out your Quarp Jet skills with two ships at once or the Daily Sprint pack and you’ll find that Velocity 2X has enough challenges to keep you going forever more.
Is there anything not to like? Well, I’m seriously struggling here because FuturLab have brought us a game that is near on flawless but if I was being really picky, the placement and throwing of telepods can sometimes become a little tricky and severely slows things down. Oh and there’s no multiplayer, but neither of those small issues detract from what is in place.
Quite simply put, Velocity 2X is a masterpiece in how digital only games should be. It’s beautiful to look at, extremely smooth across both forms of gameplay and has an addiction level right up there with the very best releases. Whether you’re a speed runner looking for that next rush, or just want to take your time enjoying the developing story behind Velocity 2X, then you will find a game that suits your every need.
Buy it. Play it. Love it. Embrace it.
Yep, that was an easy review.