The Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved series started out as a mini-game within Project Gotham Racing 3 and since then it has exploded into being a huge success. The same mini-game was released on the Xbox LIVE Arcade priced at 400 Microsoft Points, while a Nintendo Wii and DS version was also released at the end of 2007. Now in 2008, the long-awaited Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 has been released and a few fans will be slightly disappointed.
The gameplay element from the original stays the same: Using a claw-shaped ship, your task is to destroy an ever-increasing amount of enemies, survive for as long as possible, and score points in the process. Geo Wars 2 has six game modes, five of which are new. Each game mode is unlocked by scoring an amount of points on the previous game mode. The first game mode is Deadline, in which players have to score as many points as possible within the time limit of three minutes. This is a great mode for those new to Geometry Wars, though more experienced players will find it a walk in the park. Secondly is Evolved, taken from the original version with the inclusion of new enemies, which works similarly to Deadline. Players have unlimited time to score as many points as possible, but have lives. The new enemies don’t add too much to the new experience despite being a great addition within Geo Wars 2.
Next up is King, a game mode in which players can only shoot within safety zones which disappear a short period after the ship enters. When safety zones disappear, new ones form for players to get to. King is a great game mode and could prove to be a challenge for the more advanced Geologists. Pacifism is another new game mode in which players can not shoot. Instead, they must guide their ship through exploding gates which destroy nearby enemies. I found this game mode to be fairly enjoyable as it’s different from the rest. It’s also a good way of practising your ship control for the “bigger” game modes.
Waves mode works similarly to the more retro Xbox LIVE Arcade titles such as Robotron: 2084. Lines of enemies move horizontally or vertically, with more lines appearing every so often and players simply have to survive as long as possible by shooting at the enemies and weaving through formatted lines. This game mode is really all about awareness as the lines of enemies could spawn anywhere around the edges. Finally, we come to Sequence, a quick play mode in which all enemies spawn at the start of the level and players have a total of 30 seconds to clear the grid. Crashing into an enemy means failure of the level – though not the end of the game, as you simply advance to the next level. Completing all 20 levels will bag yourself 15 GamerScore points.
Speaking of achievements, after the challenging achievements from the original, it seems Bizarre have decided to lower the difficulty, though that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a walk in the park. Rubbing your ship along the grid walls as enemies chase you is a lot harder than it sounds, especially twice! The images are also nicely designed and stick with the blue and orange theme well.
Another new addition to Geo Wars 2, and one I think was a good choice, was the introduction of Geons, little green objects which are left for a short time after an enemy is killed. Collecting Geons boosts your multiplier by one, certain score values also boost your multiplier though these tend to be more generous than the Geons.
Graphically, Geo Wars 2 is as colourful and “eye-blinding” as the original, and looks even better. I also found the menu presentation to be a lot more user-friendly compared to the first. Another feature which remains the same from the original is the sounds. The familiar music and shooting sounds will take you back a few years (just over two to be exact).
The local multiplayer really stands out to me. All six game modes can be played versus and co-operatively and there’s also the option to have teams (for three or four players) and my personal favourite “co-pilot” where one player controls the ship’s movement, and the other controls the ship’s guns. The local multiplayer is great fun, especially if you can get a few friends round. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just take the fun from local multiplayer online? Yes, you guessed it. Quite bizarrely, there is no online play for Geometry Wars 2 because Bizarre Creations felt there was “too much going on to make co-op enabled online.” There’s always Geometry Wars 3 right?
Overall, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 is a fantastic Xbox LIVE Arcade title and is one game fans new and old will love. Despite the lack of online play, the game is definitely worth the 800 Microsoft Points price tag and one I would recommend to almost anyone.