Veck SE (Smayds) Review | RGCD - Everygamegoing


Veck SE
By Smayds
PC (Windows)

Published in RGCD #2

Hardcore dual-analogue, shoot 'em up that's guaranteed to hurt your eyes! Now with added XBOX 360 joypad support for all your vibratory needs...

Veck SE

It's a shame in many ways, but after looking at the screenshots in this review the first thought that just about everyone will have is "Well that's just like Geometry Wars isn't it". Geometry Wars (if you've somehow forgotten) is the seminal Robotron clone for the XBOX360 that's probably sold as many of that machine as anything else available for the format. More relevantly there's already a very good conversion of it on the PC called Grid Wars (as well as a 'legal' clone called Grid Assault, which was featured in Issue #01 of RGCD - JM). For this reason you're probably considering skipping this review entirely and going off to read about Bubble Dizzy. I'm thus going to break for a second from the 'conclusion at the bottom' reviewing tradition and let you know two very important facts up front:

1). Veck, while superficially similar to Robotron/Geometry Wars plays very differently to both.

2). Veck is really quite superb.

The basic game-play mechanics of Veck are familiar. You have a ship set within a static/single screen, there are enemies that warp into the game area which you need to destroy, and the game uses a four-axis control method, where one set of controls moves you and the other controls the direction you shoot. A trait Veck shares with Geometry Wars is that there's only the one level - enemies continue to regenerate until you die making the sole measure of success "to score as many points as you can".

This is where the differences start to emerge; Geometry Wars and indeed every other game of this type I've ever seen uses a life-based system - if you accidentally run into an enemy you're destroyed. Veck is considerably smarter in this regard, as it uses energy. You start off with a shield value of one million and contact with various enemies will result in a heavy loss of this in return for the destruction of said adversary. Energy builds back up over time to a maximum of 10,000,000 points.

The beauty of this system is that the energy builds up considerably quicker when you move, a ploy designed to stop people 'camping' in a corner and hiding. In practice it works very well, forcing you to run around like a maniac right from the moment the game begins. An additional benefit of this is that the slight boredom of the easy first stages is very neatly relieved.

The rising difficulty level is another thing this game manages very well by increasing the intensity of combat over the passage of time. From the start of the game an additional type or upgrade of enemy is introduced every minute. To help you out this is countered by a boost in your weaponry and the speed of your ship (although the latter of these isn't always a help). There's a full 14 of these upgrades before you cycle through the whole thing again from the beginning. This system of time based difficulty is another reason to get moving from the start - the more enemies you can destroy early on, the higher score you'll have before the game gets *really* tough.

The game also has a remarkable range of configuration options for both screen/window resolution and complexity of the graphics. In full screen 1280 x 1024 it looked simply beautiful on my TFT and moves like greased weasel-shit (what? â JM). There's also a display fade feature which leaves trails behind everything that moves. While actively distracting and best turned off for real games it's worth turning on at least once just to marvel at its beauty. Veck also scores several million bonus points for not only supporting the XBOX 360 controller but for actively detecting it - automatically setting up all the controls and even taking advantage of the rumble effects. It really is *the* way to play the game, although Veck does also support keyboard controls.

Veck offers a unique look at what's fast becoming the game genre du jour. The unique scoring and difficulty gradient system has the affect of drawing you in, forcing you to move, to shoot, to play the damn thing from the very first second. It may not ultimately be *quite* the game Geometry Wars is, but for being innovative, doing what it does impressively well, having full support for the XBOX 360 pad and for being a superb piece of freeware coding it becomes an essential download.

(Note that Dudley initially gave Veck SE a massive score of 92%, which I reckon is fair enough if you have a XBOX 360 pad to experience all the rumbly goodness the game has to offer. However, I haven't got one so I managed to bully him into knocking off a percent point just out of spite - JM)