- Some great ideas executed brilliantly.
- Difficulty curve is spot on.
- Looks and sounds amazing for a mini.
- Perfect for portable play.
- Might be a bit short if replaying levels isn’t your thing.
When you look at the vast catalogue of PSP minis, you’d be hard pressed to find more than a handful that you’d describe as “unmissable”. So Velocity hit the PlayStation Store with little fanfare, no hype, and most gamers posing the question “What the hell is it?”. Well I can tell you that it’s a top-down shooter that’s also kind of special. While space-blasters have been done a million times before, it’s the new ideas and the way they’re seamlessly put together that make Velocity rocket above the opposition.
It sounds simple, yet there’s enough variation to keep you gripped. After an explosion on Vilio, the galaxy is thrown into disarray with survivors stranded in space with seemingly no way to get home. Thankfully, some clever boffins designed the Quarp Jet, and it’s your job to use it to get the survivors home safely, avoiding an onslaught from scavengers along the way.
Throughout the games 50 missions, you’re tasked with collecting as many survivor pods as you can possibly manage, while struggling to beat the clock at the same time. Completing levels in an uber-fast time and leaving no man behind will grant you with a better medal and more XP, which you’ll need to unlock more levels.
What really makes the game is the perfectly-crafted difficulty curve. The first few levels see you master simple flying techniques, using the left stick or D-pad to navigate, before more interesting mechanics are introduced to the fold. Before long the screen is filled with enemies, and you’re having to teleport to avoid obstacles, throw bombs through the air and take down force fields to simply get from A to B. Because you’re introduced to everything so gradually, you never get the feeling of being rushed or overwhelmed, it feels like it all just falls into place.
The teleporting mechanic is a new idea that takes the game beyond the blasting. Holding the square button brings up an aiming reticule, and releasing it teleports you to wherever you’ve selected. It’s not only a neat feature that opens the door for a number of different attack strategies (getting in the middle of a group of enemies and letting loose with your “Mega Weapon is encouraged), it’s also crucial for cruising past obstacles.
All this might make Velocity sound like your typical shooter with an added-on perk, but it’s a lot more than that. Levels aren’t designed to kill you, they’re designed to make you think on your feet above anything else. For example, you need to take out force field generators in a sequence, achieved by teleporting from point to point. Some areas can only be accessed by throwing a bomb, and other times you’re encouraged to boost all the way through without stopping. In fact, the best way to think of the game is as a fast-paced puzzler with shooting elements thrown in for good measure, rather than the other way around.
If you find the standard stages a bit too easy, collecting special yellow pods grants you access to top secret levels. These will likely drive you insane, and give us proof that the guys at Futurlab hate us. So much as touching any surface on these stages will kill you, and you’re not helped by just about everything else clogging up your flight path. Still, that makes the moment when you’re teleporting freely from top to bottom, taking out every scavenger/rogue turret in-between, immensely satisfying. Just don’t expect it to happen too quickly.
It’s not a bad looker either. There’s a distinct retro 80’s feel going on throughout, with a suitably pumped-up soundtrack penetrating your eardrums as the action unfolds. It’s one of those games that looks good because of the design rather that raw visual firepower, and despite the screen being filled up the majority of the time, it never looks cluttered and you won’t lose track of where you’re currently floating. For those who’ve picked up a Vita, I can honestly say it looks better on the small screen than it does on a TV, but it doesn’t look too shabby either way.
Velocity is definitely up there with the top-tier of PSP minis. It’s a space shooter that does more than just that, executing a combination of puzzles and action to near perfection. It doesn’t take a particularly long time to get through the whole game, but the brutal secret missions and improving your medal grades will at least give you something to come back to once it’s all over. For just £3.99 it’s well worth sacrificing a lunch for.