Velocity – PS3 Attitude Mini Review
Well, isn’t this a neat mini surprise? As is often the case with the Minis, I was content to let Velocity slip through my net. Let’s face it, there isn’t a shortage of them and most aren’t worth more than a fleeting glance. However, Velocity has received some rave reviews and some much wiser people than me have highly recommended it, so I thought, “Why not?”
Don’t be deceived by the screenshots; Velocity isn’t your standard retro space shooter. It may have all the hallmarks of one, with its top down view and familiar mechanics (you do fly a ship through a vertically scrolling map, shooting space ships and objects, hoping to reach the other end unscathed), but developer FuturLab has approached this very old genre with some fresh ideas.
For starters, your ship has the ability to teleport. All you have to do is hold down Square and drag the cursor to where you want to reappear on the screen. Teleporting is important for getting past walls and other obstacles. The play goes on as you select, forcing you to think quickly and two steps ahead. The move is key to Velocity’s gameplay because it shifts the balance from traditional blasting to navigating and logical puzzle solving.
About halfway through Velocity’s 50 levels, you gain the ability to drop telepods at any time, thus allowing you to return to earlier parts of the level. FuturLab has used this clever technique to come with up with some really creative level designs. Some for example require you to take out specific targets to disable a shield, but they have to be taken out in order; the first target may be close to the end of the level and the second may be at the beginning, so you need to jump back and forth. It breaks up the monotony of traditional shoot ‘em ups.
Velocity does still have all the traditional blasting gameplay – your ship has bombs and chargeable blasters for firing at ships, blocks and security turrets – but the point I’m keen to stress is that Velocity has so much more to offer on top of all of that.
Sounds confusing? It actually isn’t, surprisingly. Velocity is very accessible for two reasons: one, it drops each new feature in gradually, so as not to overload you with ideas; and two, you can take the game largely at your own pace. This is because the standard game speed is slow, very slow, but you can speed it up considerably if you hold down R1. So you can take the game at a leisurely pace if you want, but you won’t get the great scores or the gold medals, or you can up the pace and try to be the best.
The game also has a brilliant soundtrack, co-written and co-produced by the award-winning composer Joris de Man. De Man is famous for his sweeping orchestral scores for the Killzone series. This is very different – Velocity has a really catchy synth sound, straight from the 80s.
In addition to a good sized singleplayer campaign, FuturLab have thrown in a few extras, including a Minesweeper game, 20 brutal challenges, a calculator and trophies. The only thing it’s missing is an adjustable cursor speed option, because the jerkiness can make it difficult to teleport into precise spots and almost impossible to use the calculator. It does lack the slickness of Mediatonic’s Who’s That Flying?!
But this wasn’t enough to spoil my enjoyment of Velocity. It is a great value game, particularly for PS Plus subscribers, who can get it for nothing right now. Sony should definitely consider throwing some money at FuturLab so they can make a full-scale PS Vita version, because that would go down a treat.