Velocity Ultra Review

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Title: Velocity Ultra
Developer: FuturLab
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 176 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download 

EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes

Indie games are a breed of games that don’t have a lot of good reputation on the PlayStation Vita.  Although the number of these games increases on multiple platforms each day, the majority of the Vita community isn’t very accepting of them.  Many people think that Indies are causing the Vita to not get more big-name titles.  Or, as they call them, AAA Games.  Whether this is true or not, though, the Vita is getting more big games as well as Indies every day.

Here at the PS Vita Review Network, we have touched on Indies, but not too many.  Other than PlayStation Mobile, we have only reviewed a few of the mass library of Indies available on the Vita.  Games like Entwined, Flow, and Rainbow Moon have entered our library.  The bulk of our library and database are non-Indie games, though that number may start to change soon.

Today, we are offering a new Indie review for those daring enough to take a look at the world of Indie Games.  This game was one that had actually won awards for its gameplay and gimmicks.  Sporting a science fiction atmosphere and simple yet fast gameplay, here is our official review of the Indie game and remake of the PlayStation Mini title known as Velocity, Velocity Ultra!

Story

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The story of Velocity Ultra takes place in the distant future.  It is the year 2212 and a star deep in space has collapsed into a black hole.  As a byproduct of this, a massive EMP (Electromagnet Pulse) swept through the area, knocking out power for everything in the area.  This is from mining ships, colony cruisers, special forces, and more.  With all of them stranded in the middle of space, a rescue operation is required to bring the hundreds of survivors to safety.

The only means of rescuing them is a ship called the Quarp Jet.  Built with the power of teleportation, it is the only ship capable of reaching the survivors and bring them home.  As it sets out, though, trouble starts to show itself as a neighboring race begins to invade the region.  You must pilot the quarp jet to rescue the survivors as well as fighting off the invading ships.

The story of Velocity Ultra isn’t a huge breakthrough in gaming.  It sets the stage for the elements and how the game plays, but not much else.  It gives you reasons for why you’re doing what you’re doing.  In the long run, though, the game is all about the gameplay, as opposed to the plot.

Gameplay

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To classify Velocity as a genre, it’s what you would call a Shoot-em-up game.  The initial gameplay has you in a top-down scenario, where you are navigating your ship around a 2D environment.  The basic movement and combat elements could be compared to games like Space Invaders.  However, Velocity has a lot more to it than that, as is shown as you play through more and more of the game.  In essence, though, it’s like Space Invaders, and is a Shoot-Em-Up game.

As you progress through each of the 50 stages of the game, you will be traversing your ship in a 2D environment and are tasked with clearing the area while defeating enemies and rescuing Survivors, which are pods floating around the area.  The biggest key to clearing a stage is to collect as many survivors as possible before you reach the end.  The biggest goal is to get them all, but as long as you get most, you will still be able to clear the stage and not have to re-do the mission to proceed through the game.  Getting all of the survivors can be tricky, as the stage is constantly moving, giving you a limited time to collect those survivors.

The biggest thing that makes this game unique is the ability to teleport and move between areas.  You will find a lot of structures that have walls around them.  The walls cannot be destroyed by the lasers and bombs you can launch, so you have to teleport to move past them.  This allows you to constantly be thinking and seeing where you need to teleport to get through each area or to find hidden areas with more survivors.  You can also use this anywhere else.  So, if you have a huge wave of enemy fire coming your way, you can teleport to an open area to avoid it.

The other unique part of the game is the pacing.  You can speed up how fast the level moves to get through areas faster.  This is required in many of the game’s missions, requiring much faster reactions from you.  Since you have a limited number of retries, it’s important to be able to move on the fly as well as finding survivors and not getting pushed off-screen to your untimely demise.  This makes the game challenging at times, but also makes it very fast-paced and fun.

Other than these elements, the game has other features you acquire as you play through the game.  You can acquire weapon power-ups and health packs to recover damage that you receive from enemy fighters.  There are also sections that require you to backtrack, so you can place teleporters around the stage to go back to from the Map.  Many case that require you to backtrack are taking out various switches to lower force fields.  Many of these switches have to be done in a particular order, sometimes requiring several uses of the teleporters.

All in all, Velocity Ultra is a fast-paced game, though many of the Switch-Unlocking levels may seem repetitive with requiring multiple teleport backtracking.  Across the 50 levels of the game, outside of repeating levels, Velocity Ultra should take at least a few hours to beat.  Perfecting each level will easily double or triple that, depending on how quickly you learn how the game works.  It’s not an incredibly long game, but it is something good for quick play sessions.

Controls

Controls for Velocity Ultra are pretty simple.  First and foremost, the touch controls for the game are very minor.  Most of the touch controls for the game are for the menus, before you start playing the game.  However, there is a touch mode you can enable, allowing you to tap anywhere on the screen in a mission, teleporting you there.  This is actually very useful and sometimes faster than using the buttons for teleporting.  Otherwise, you’ll be using the buttons on the system for controlling the game.

Moving your ship around in each mission is done with either the D-Pad or the Left Analog Stick.  I ended up using the Left Analog a lot more than the D-Pad, but you may use either one, depending on your preference.  Aside from the face buttons, the L Button can bring up the map of the game and the R button can speed up the level.  There is also the ability to use the Right Analog Stick to launch bombs in the four directions they may be launched towards.

The rest of the controls are with the face buttons.  The X Button fires your primary weapon while the Circle button can launch bombs.  Bombs require that you be aiming in a certain direction or they will not launch.  The Triangle and Square buttons are not used for combat, though.  Triangle is used to drop teleport pods in the missions you have to backtrack in.  The Square button is used to aim where you would like to teleport to.  You get a target and can move it to another location on the screen to teleport.

All in all, the control style is simple.  The only thing I would change is the touch screen teleport function.  By default, it is disabled.  Since it is so convenient, I feel it should be enabled from the get-go.  Other than that, it’s pretty easy to get the hang of.

Presentation

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As far as the presentation goes, don’t expect high-quality visuals from this game.  Velocity Ultra is an Indie game and a remake of a PlayStation Mini title.  The game’s visuals are mostly 2D in nature, along with hand-drawn anime-like scenes at the beginning of each mission.  While there is a certain amount of depth to them, they are still 2D visuals.  On the bright side of this, every render is done so flawlessly.  There are no jagged edges.  No breaks in the models.  For a 2D game, Velocity Ultra looks very good.

The game plays just as well, as far as the requirements for this type of game goes.  The game sports very short load times, only giving you a few seconds to think before you are thrown into a mission.  Despite the fast-paced nature of the game, the game’s flow holds up very well.  There was never a time when I played that I saw the frames start to slow down or lag.  FuturLab did a nice job at optimizing the game for the Vita.

Overall

Velocity Ultra takes the basic formula for a shoot-em-up game and adds some very interesting twists and turns.  While the missions can get repetitive over time, the teleportation and speed sections of the game make this a very fun pick-up-and-play game.  If you don’t try to beat the game in one sitting, you will find a lot of fun in this affordable space shooter.

The PlayStation Vita Review Network Rates Velocity Ultra an 8/10

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