Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 07/30/08 | Genre: Shooter
After more than two years since the launch of Geometry Wars Retro Evolved on Xbox LIVE Arcade, Bizarre Creations has finally released a proper sequel. The original game struck a perfect balance between accessibility, difficulty and fun. The controls were simple enough that anyone could pick up the controller and start playing. The flashy graphics and gorgeous particle displays were enough to catch the eye of both hardcore gamers and casual players alike. Most importantly, the intense action and nerve-wracking gameplay would hook players almost instantly. I can recall sitting down for a “quick” play with the game and glancing at the clock to find that several hours had passed.
With Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2, it looks like a lot of people will be having similar experiences. The game is phenomenal. It is everything the first game was, but with several new game modes packed in and multiplayer too. The particle displays have been ramped up to provide unbelievable visual utopias on screen nearly every frame. Also, the game has a perfect soundtrack. The techno beats match the stylized gameplay and help create an intensity that is felt with every play session.
The game controls exactly like the original. You pilot your ship with the left analog stick and fire your weapon with the right. The triggers are used to detonate bombs when available. This simple control scheme is one of the greatest things about the series and we're pleased to see that it hasn't been altered. One thing that has been altered is the score multiplier system. In the first game, you would earn higher multipliers by destroying enemies. In the new title, simply blowing up enemies will not raise your multiplier. Instead enemies will leave behind small green orbs, called geoms, that you must collect. Collecting a large number of geoms will allow you to raise your multiplier into the thousands and your mulitplier no longer resets when you die as it did in the original. This new system makes the game even more accessible to new players and is a very welcomed addition.
What really sets Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2 apart from the first game are the new game modes. Initially, the only mode available is Deadline. Deadline gives players a three minute timer to rack up the highest score they can. Players have unlimited lives in this mode, but dying will cost you precious time and limit the amount of points you can score.
The next new mode is called King. King is my personal favorite addition to the game. In this mode, protective rings will spawn in varying locations; enemies cannot enter the enclosed areas. The player is only allowed to shoot while inside one of these safe zones. If you cross over the ring's border the enemies will be able to reach you and you cannot defend yourself. Also, the safe zones fade over time. If the ring you're in disappears you will be caught in the middle of an onslaught with no weapons at your disposal. The objective of the game is to move from ring to ring making dangerous runs through enemy territory to reach the next safe zone. You only have one life in this mode which makes the dashes between rings especially exciting.
The next mode, Evolved, is essentially just the original game with the inclusion of new enemies and more particles. The objective remains the same: destroy enemies to score points and try not to die. You can earn extra lives and bombs just as in the original and the new score multiplier makes it a bit easier to reach that coveted one million mark.
Once you've played Evolved for a bit, you'll unlock Pacifism. This mode is inspired by the achievement of the same name from the first game. The goal of Pacifism is simply to survive for as long as possible. The catch is that you have no weapons on your ship. The only way to destroy enemies is to fly through gates that spawn rapidly around the map. Flying through gates can be tricky as touching either side of the gate will kill you. To make matters worse, even if you make it through, the gate will only take out enemies nearby and the range is very limited. Pacifism may be the most difficult of all game modes. Playing enough of Pacifism will unlock the next mode; Waves.
Waves is one of the more enjoyable modes and gets tricky rather quickly. Enemies spawn in rows along the sides of the combat area and zip across at high speeds. In addition to that, regular enemies will spawn all around just as they do in any other game mode. What this means is that you're stuck in the middle and that's not a very good place to be; it does however, make for one heck of a good time.
The last mode you'll unlock is called Sequence. Sequence is a series of levels that you either pass or fail with the ultimate goal being to pass twenty levels. You have a limited number of lives, but dying in one stage will cause you to fail that stage and automatically moves you on to the next one. Sequence is definitely one of the tougher modes in the game.
As if offering six game modes wasn't enough, Bizarre Creations threw in local multiplayer support for up to four players. While there is no LIVE play available, the multiplayer modes do allow you and your friends to play cooperatively or against one another. There's even an option to play with one player piloting the ship and the other player shooting. Unless you've got some kind of psychic link with each other, this method is incredibly difficult, but fun nonetheless. Some may be disappointed with the lack of online play, but in reality, Geometry Wars 2 is at its best in single player mode, so this doesn't stand out as a big flaw.
Overall, this game is an incredible package. It is well worth the 800 Microsoft Points (10 bucks) and is every bit as addictive as the original. With new game modes, more particles, great music and the improved multiplier system, Geometry Wars 2 is one of the greatest games available on XBLA and is definitely a must buy.