I like a good shoot ’em up. The fast paced action of both knowing where to move and where to fire is always a fun balance that many games do very well. I just played a PlayStation Mini that not only does the shmup style justice, but also throws in a few twists that make the game a possible must own for fans of the genre. The game I’m talking about is Velocity.
Velocity is a vertical-scrolling shoot em up with a few big twists. You play as a fighter pilot that is tasked with rescuing survivors from an area in space that is slowing getting sucked in by a black hole. Only your ship is equipped to handle the dangerous conditions. So you have to get in, save as many survivor pods as possible while taking out malfunctioning security bots and enemy ships.
This all sounds pretty standard, but I have yet to mention the twists. The first big one is the fact that you can control the speed of the screen scroll. By hitting R1 your ship boosts and the screen begins to scroll faster. Doing this will move you through an area much faster, but obviously, your reaction times will be hindered.
The second big twist is the ship’s teleportation capabilities. By holding the square button, you will bring up a reticule that you can aim with the analog stick. Letting go of the button will teleport your ship to where the reticule was. You may come to a dead end in your path, but if you teleport to another lane, you can continue to go forward. This mechanic sounds simple on paper, but when you have survivor pods to get while trying to avoid enemy ships and fire while boosting at break neck speeds, it can get hectic.
Another big twist is the respawn beacon. You can drop down a beacon on the map and go through part of the level. Then, after you have done what you needed to do through that route, transport back to the beacon you dropped and take an alternate route. Think of it like a rewind feature, except you don’t reverse what you have already done.
The game features 50 levels in the story mode, each with varying difficulty and never one that really replicates another. One minute you’ll be doing nothing but maneuvering the teleports with no enemies on the screen, and the next you’ll be throwing bombs and machine gunning enemy ships in a full on bullet hell game. You may see some survivor pods behind a shield, but don’t know where the switch is to bring them down. You go up one route but right before, drop a spawn beacon. After taking out numerous enemies and saving other pods, you see the switch for the shields you passed 30 seconds ago. Shoot the switch and return to the beacon you left. Now you can grab those other survivor pods. It’s things like this that make the game a lot like an action puzzle game. It works really well.
The game is all about getting as many survivor pods, destroying as many enemies and getting the fastest time as possible. You are ranked on how well you did after each level and given rewards like in-game trophies, medals and unlockables, like concept art.
There are a ton of in-game trophies to collect and challenges to unlock. There’s enough here to keep the travelling Vita/PSP owner busy for a very long time. I played mostly on my PS3 and had a blast right there on my couch.
The overall presentation is nice. The simple graphics mixed with the fast paced techno music created by the composer of Killzone 2 and 3 really fits the mood and action of the game. It’s a very fast paced, sometimes hectic game that has the player balancing perfection of a level with achieving as fast a time as possible.
FuturLab took the familiar concept of a shoot ’em up, gave it some new life and threw in some unique mechanics that really make the game shine. I can’t suggest this game enough to fans of old school shooters and players on the go with the PSP or PS Vita. Even PS3 players should check this game out. It’s only $4.99, and that’s a steal for a game like this. The only thing I wish it would have had was maybe an online leader board. Besides that, this game is just pure fun.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.