“Just one more game,” you tell yourself. Before you know it, one more game has turned into several, which has turned into three hours of attempting to overcome the same level. All the while, that new IKEA bookcase you were meant to assemble has remained firmly in the flat pack you purchased it in. Hyper-addictive games take over our lives; just ask anyone who has ever played Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions.
Geometry Wars began life as a mini-game in Project Gotham Racing 2 back in 2003. Accessible through the in-game garage, the popularity of the colourful shape-shooter saw a huge demand for a standalone title, to which Bizarre Creations were more than willing to oblige. Its success paved the way for a rise in twin-stick shooters, though the series’ latest outing is a pleasant reminder to why gamers fell in love with Geometry Wars all those years ago.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, the aim of Geometry Wars is to survive as long as possible, while scoring points through the destruction of an ever-increasing swarm of enemies made up of geometric shapes (hence the name). Players control a claw-shaped ship, which can be moved in any direction using the left thumbstick, with firing controlled through the right thumbstick.
That concept has evolved in Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions, which adds further depth to the series through the introduction of 3D environments. It’ll take a moment for returning players to adjust to the camera swinging round corners, though it soon feels incredibly natural. So natural, that you couldn’t imagine playing Geometry Wars any other way.
Another alteration to the gameplay is the addition of drones and supers. Unlocked and upgraded in the title’s campaign mode, the drones follow your ship around and can be used to enhance certain abilities, such as improved shooting and increased collection of geoms (green diamonds dropped by enemies that increase the player’s multiplier), while supers are one-off attacks that can destroy multiple enemies at once. Whereas the impact of the drones and support isn’t particularly noticeable in the hustle and bustle, their implementation excellently enhances the Geometry Wars experience.
In terms of single player, Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions is broken up into two main game modes: Classic and Adventure. Classic is made up of five modes, all of which have appeared in previous entries in the series. Deadline sees players aiming to score as many points as possible in the time limit and King confines gamers to firing within safety zones.
Meanwhile, Pacifism disables shooting, forcing players to guide the ship through gates in order to destroy nearby enemies; Waves sees gamers avoiding and destroying waves of rockets; and Evolved Classic is the standard 2D Geometry Wars game mode. Each of the game modes has been brilliantly adapted in order to cater for the three-dimensional nature of the title, whilst also retaining the enjoyment factor evident in the predecessors.
However, the cream of the crop and the game mode which will consume the majority of players’ time is Adventure. The fifty-level-long campaign mode consists of varying missions, largely made up of the five game modes evident in Classic mode, though also includes a number of brand new additions.
Rainbow sees players preventing the enemies from colouring in the whole game area; Claustrophobia has the action taking place on an ever-decreasing battleground; and Sniper (arguably the best new inclusion) limits the amount of ammunition players can use, placing a heavy emphasis on precision. Adventure also includes boss battles, which largely consists of players having to eliminate a larger, stronger target by utilising its weak spot. These provide the game’s most difficult challenges, although there’s a real sense of pride and reward that comes with their demise.
Progression in Adventure is made through the accumulation of stars, as each level contains three score tiers with a star attached to each tier. The ranking system adds a great deal of replayability to the title, as players strive to achieve the high scores. Further adding to the replay value is the implementation of leaderboards, allowing gamers to compare their high score against friends and (for ultimate bragging rights) with players from across the globe.
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions also contains multiplayer support. For the first time in the franchise, the game boasts competitive online multiplayer in two game modes: Stock, in which players compete to take down bosses with a limited arsenal; and Summoner – a point-capturing mode. Whereas the competitive multiplayer has been well executed and works well across Xbox Live, its main downfall is the lack of active players. The online portion of the game strongly resembles a ghost town, something that is unlikely to be rectified in the future.
In addition to online multiplayer, the game also features support for up to four players on one console. The co-operative mode consists of a ten-level multiplayer campaign, which is best described as short, but sweet. Whilst it’s a strong inclusion, it’s fairly disappointing to see the co-operative elements don’t extend to Xbox Live play.
Graphically, Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions retains its trademark neon details, which looks spectacular on the Xbox One, brimming with colour. It’s a similar case with the audio, as the electronic music excellently complements the frantic nature of the title.
One of the dangers with Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions was that it could quite easily have overcomplicated the classic formula. Thankfully, Lucid Games has achieved the perfect balance, managing to build on top of the familiar Geometry Wars style without removing any of its charm. Despite a few minor flaws, Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions is one of the most enjoyable and addictive titles to arrive on the Xbox One. Put simply, this is a must for any games collection.