Electronic Theatre Preview: Velocity

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Electronic Theatre ImageIndependent UK studio FuturLab are currently preparing to launch their second PlayStation Minis title, Velocity. Set to arrive on the PlayStation Network next month, Velocity has a lot of things going for it: low price, familiar genre premise, universal compatibility for all current PlayStation formats. But that doesn’t mean it’s about to rest on its retro flavoured laurels.

Velocity is a scrolling shoot-‘em-up through-and-through. Everything about it screams 1990, from the 16-bit inspired graphics to the fantastically precise D-Pad control, this is a videogame made for gamers of a certain age; and that age is one that can keenly remember heading down to the local independent stockist with fiftyElectronic Theatre Image notes clutched in hand to by the latest arcade port of a videogame designed to challenge the player. Velocity isn’t a videogame interested in congratulating you for a job well done on a level made to be completed by anyone; its here to provide you with an opportunity to show just how good you can be.

And this ethos is prevalent throughout the videogame. From what is even designed as the tutorial level the player is given tasks to complete that might seem easy, but are deceptively challenging. Racing to the end of the level showcases Velocity’s first modern feature, the screen scrolling. By holding the R Trigger, the player can accelerate the speed at which the screen scrolls: a minor mechanical change you may think, but once entering combat this makes a world of difference to the gameplay.

Another innovative idea is that of the teleport. By simply holding the square button and moving the cursor you then take control of to an unblocked location you can teleport your vessel in an instant. Early on this is a simple case of moving behind walls to collect bonuses, but it’s not long til Velocity challenges you to perform severalElectronic Theatre Image jumps in sequence, forward and sideways, opening new routes or simply teleporting across the only path available.

There is a small learning curve required, as it does take an amount of time to get used to which buttons these special abilities are placed on given that you often don’t realise you will have to use them until a split-second before they are needed. A special weapon available on the Circle button confuses things even further, as though it is very useful, there’s no explanation of the function prior to the player simply discovering it for themselves. However, the level design is elegant enough to offer you breathing space until the basics have been learnt. It’s still a challenge even here, but not an overly punishing one.

Of course, Velocity features the same kind of pattern-shooting enemies and turrets that you would expect from a scrolling shoot-‘em-up title, and in that regard Electronic Theatre has yet to see anything quite so unique as Velocity’s abilities make-up. With the release just around the corner however, we can’t wait to find out just what else FuturLab have come up with.

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