The lights are on
One year ago at GDC, Futurlab's Kirsty Rigden and James Marsden had just started development on Velocity 2X for PlayStation Vita. The pair traveled to San Francisco to attend panels and network with peers during the week-long conference. They ended up spending the entire week holed up, working feverishly to convince Sony to let them bring their game to PS4."We have some funds to bring the game to PS4," Marsden, who is the studio's managing director remembers being told by a Sony representative on Tuesday, March 26, 2013. "But you have to sell it to us. We need to know by Friday."Marsden and Rigden, Futurlab's operations director canceled everything they had scheduled and worked (along with the entire studio back in the UK) to get the pitch ready. It was a month, and some gentle prodding (in image form, below) later before Futurlab got the green light.When I sat down to play Velocity 2X, I admitted to Marden and Rigden that I don't typically gravitate toward bullet-hell games. "Neither do we," Rigden said, with a laugh. "That's why we're making Velocity 2X." Futurlab enjoys putting their own spin on established genres, and Velocity 2X isn't a traditional bullet-hell experience. There are certainly moments when the screen is filled, but a teleport maneuver makes dodging a bit more strategic than twitch-based.Additionally, Velocity 2X includes puzzle elements. There are locks littered throughout the level that must be destroyed in the correct numerical order. Sometimes this requires docking and blasting through platforming sections as the pilot. She has a similar move set to her vehicle, and can dash, teleport and shoot (often in combination to navigate trickier obstacles). My first time through the three levels I played were methodical as I learned the control scheme.Teleporting, firing lasers, and flicking an unlimited number of bombs with the right stick are a lot for a twitch shooter. As I spent time with the game though, I started getting into a rhythm. Giving myself over to the controls rather than overthinking led to my most fluid (and enjoyable) sequences. Marsden tells me that his team, which has grown from three on Velocity Ultra to ten for 2X, admire how Dennaton Games approached Hotline Miami and its balance of the frenetic and strategic.
There are no lives, and dying just sends you back a bit with a slight time penalty. The idea is to allow the players to experiment and learn the controls without feeling pressured by a finite life pool that will send them back to the beginning.
Velocity 2X's 50 levels are meant to be revisited as your skills become more refined, and each has a different theme. Some are tuned for speed-running, while others are designed with exploration and puzzle solving in mind (aided by the ability to drop teleport pods to more easily revist areas). Scoring is handled in four categories, including completion time and different collectibles in the level.Futurlab's shakeup of the shoot-em-up genre is shaping up to be 2014's Resogun. Levels are brief, making for great pick up and play value, but I can see getting sucked in for extended periods to improve my scores.The title is still in alpha form right now, but should be released this summer. Futurlab is targeting both cross-buy and cross-save functionality for the Vita and PlayStation 4 versions.
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