by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
You’ve got a Quarp Jet, a spaceship which is able to make use of quantum teleportation. That’s pretty cool, right? Sadly, that little piece of backstory might be the coolest part of Velocity Ultra, a top-down shooter from Futurlab which started life as a PlayStation Vita game, and has now made the leap over to PC.
The main premise of the game is pretty simple. You fly at speed through each level rescuing survivors by flying over their floating pods, shooting enemies and turrets, teleporting short distances through walls when your path is blocked and hitting switches in order to open up new paths. You will also unlock a long range teleport, allowing you to drop a beacon earlier in the level which you can return to at any time. This leads to situations where there are dead ends, but you still have to travel down them to flip the next switch, subsequently returning to your previous point.
Several types of enemies will hinder your path, none of which are particularly challenging. Most will just fly in a set pattern, some will occasionally fire at you. Things can get hectic when there are turrets and swarming ships filling the screen with hazards, but the hitboxes on enemy fire seem a little loose, as there were multiple times when I thought I was about to be hit by a projectile when it just passed right by me. When eventually you do get hit enough times, you’ll lose a life and reset to a checkpoint, but lose all your lives and you’ll have to start the whole level again.
Action over story
Levels are generally quick bursts of action, with three medal awards based on your time and the number of survivors you save. Each of them can be completed in just a couple of minutes at most, especially the speed levels which suggest that you never let go of the boost button. These are generally tests of dexterity, where you will have to quickly use the teleport function rather than fighting off enemies. To teleport you hold down the button, then move a cursor to where you would like to go. I played most of the game with a gamepad, but teleporting using the analogue stick was finicky at best. When asked to be done at speed, or to jump into a tight space, it was near impossible to pull off with any consistency.
There is a minimal story going on here, but it’s only ever told through text on a still screen, and there are text files which are easily missed. Missions are unlocked by earning experience, meaning you don’t have to do them all in order, and in fact you can skip some entirely. Beyond the fifty main missions there are twenty challenge levels to unlock for a quick extra bit of action, but there’s nothing that compelling about them.
Bizarrely, you can play Minesweeper from the main menu. There’s no explanation for it, it’s just there. Actually, it’s not even a particularly good version of the game. There are no options, it’s just a simple 10x10 grid with twenty mines. I’m no Minesweeper expert, but isn’t the standard number of mines for a 10x10 grid, ten? Double the mines meant I never completed a game, and I spent a fair amount of time playing it since the core game of Velocity Ultra didn’t grab me all that much. There’s also a calculator next to Minesweeper. Again, I have no idea why.
It’s got simple visuals which aren’t very stylish, and a driving electronic soundtrack but nothing remarkable. It’s plain to see that this was originally a game built for a handheld, and the port up to the more powerful PC platform hasn’t helped it at all. Computer users will desire something more, and although there are some unique mechanics here, the overall product just comes across as being pretty mediocre.
Teleportation mechanic is fairly unique and interesting.
It’s fine as a little game on its native handheld platform, but the power of the PC demands more.