Gone are the days when Geometry Wars was a mini-game in Project Gotham Racing. With the cult following the series now has, it has jumped from simply a mini-game to a fully fledged Arcade title.
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 is the first Geometry Wars title on the Xbox that is exclusively available on the Xbox Live Arcade, but is it worth the 800 point price? Let's see.
Geometry Wars is a game where you pilot around a small triangle on a grid as vibrant shapes come at you and explode in showers of sparks and spectacular effects. You use the left trigger to move the craft and the right trigger to fire your guns as you are attacked by hordes of geometric shapes. All the shapes have different characteristics and behaviours, with some being fast and manoeuvrable, and others slow and stupid. However, as the game progresses more and more shapes appear and you will have an exceptionally difficult time keeping them off you.
The aim in Geometry Wars is to simply gain as high a score as possible, by increasing your multiplier and by destroying the enemy shapes. In Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved your multiplier would increase as you destroyed enemies, and you would lose it once you died. In this department there has been quite a change to the formula.
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 has done away with the exceedingly frustrating loss of your multiplier on dying, however it has also done away with your multiplier increasing per enemy you destroy. Now each geometric shape you decimate will drop a small token, which when collected ups your multiplier. The trick is that often it is not that easy to pick up the multipliers when you have swarms of enemies heading in your direction. However it does take a substantial amount of the frustration out of Geometry Wars and allows for a few mistakes. You also still have bombs, which will destroy all enemies in one hit, however you won’t receive points, but they will still drop multiplier tokens. But you only have a small number of bombs, depending on the game mode.
Graphically, the whole game has been enhanced since Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved, and it is noticeably slicker. The environment is equally awesome to look at, especially when enemies start exploding and the whole grid you play on starts being tossed around with the force of the explosions. The soundtrack too has been updated, as one would expect, with a range of excellent tracks that add to the psychedelic feel of the game. This won’t be new to fans of the series, but it is quite spectacular to anyone who hasn’t played Geometry Wars before.
The best aspect of Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 over the original Retro Evolved is that it includes multiple game-modes. This helps to really add some variation to the game, and each game mode is unique. Deadline gives you a three-minute time limit, limited bombs but unlimited lives. Now this you may think is easy, but when you die you stem the flow of enemies into the level, and therefore seriously hinder the potential points you could be scoring. This works very well, and is a short, sweet version of Geometry Wars.
King is also something very new. The level is littered with small circles in which you can hide. Only when you are in these can you shoot and destroy enemies, and enemies can’t get into them. However they only last for a few short seconds before you have to rush to the next one. This becomes increasingly challenging as a greater number of enemies rush toward the circle you are in, and you will have a more and more difficult time clearing a path to the next safe zone. Then there is Evolved. Evolved is essentially the original Retro Evolved title, however with the new multiplier style. In this mode you simply have to get as high a score as possible, with a limited number of lives and bombs.
Pacifism is my personal favourite. This was an achievement in Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved, but has now become a fully fledged game mode. Essentially you need to score the most points you can without your guns working. The only way to destroy enemies is to pass through a range of gates that are strewn around the field. Passing through these when an enemy is relatively close will cause the enemy to be destroyed, allowing you to pick up the multipliers. This is a very different approach to the game, and it works well.
Waves involves you being pitted against squadrons of enemies, which will pass from one side of the playing field to the other. These will be spawned continuously and the aim is to destroy them so as to avoid being overrun and taken out from the side. This was the most difficult game mode for me, but it most probably just requires a different approach to the others. The final mode is Sequence, which has you working through a range of levels, each with a set sequence of enemies that appear. You have 30 seconds to clear a level of all enemies, and dying will mean that you move onto the next level without any points on the level you are on. The aim being to complete all levels by killing all enemies.
As becomes obvious, a huge amount of effort has been put into Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 to make it more re-playable and more exciting. The use of achievements in the title has added a further element of re-playability. There have even been efforts to include multiplayer, but unfortunately not over Live.
This game is a real gem, and by far the best title on the Xbox Live Arcade, easily worth the 800 points. This is a great game for fans of the series, but also for newcomers to see what the fuss is all about.