Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 Review
Geometry Wars 2 is a perfect sequel. It’s a bold statement to make, but it’s true.
When the game was announced scant weeks short of its release on to Xbox Live, speculation was rife about just how developer Bizarre Creations intended to develop their pet shooter and, more specifically, how those changes were going to warrant a price tag that doubled the cost of the original.
The answer lies in a meaty fleshing out of a core concept that, while accomplished and entertaining, was somewhat basic.
This time around the game comes with five modes rather than one, and each feels radically different to the point where they feel less like alternative modes and more like entire new games.
Unlocked in the briefest of play sessions that merely asks you to sample each mode in turn, the alternatives range from the simple time-trial in Deadline to the concept warping King and Pacifism modes that limit your abilities to only being able to fire in certain, rapidly changing areas of the grid in the former, and being completely unarmed in the latter, save for a series of rapidly spawning, localised explosives that loiter around the arena.
Also included in the package are the Waves mode from PGR4 which remains seizure inducingly intense, and Sequence which is quite possibly the most visually astounding thing you’ll play for a long time. Foregoing the chaos that Geometry Wars traditionally thrives on, Sequence delivers 20 set stages of the most intense enemy formations Bizarre Creations could think of, switching the emphasis from twitch reaction time to practiced mastery to carve out the highest score possible.
All these modes are, naturally, linked by online leader boards from your friends list that have already inspired fierce competition and baiting messages across Xbox Live.
Along with the new modes, Bizarre Creations have dramatically shifted the style of play from the original Geometry Wars with one simple addition: replacing the traditional chained kills = multiplier mechanic, the game now uses Geomes; tiny neon pickups left by destroyed shapes that, when collected, multiply the points per kill by one. The change is instant and dramatic — where the first game favoured defence through mass fire power, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 encourages the player to fight up close and dirty with the enemy in order to maximise their score potential. It’s an utterly breathless reversal of strategy that refreshes even the familiar Evolved mode in to a whole new experience.
Multiplayer also turns up for this edition and, while it’s limited to local play and lacks leaderboards, proves to be routinely hilarious, exciting and competitive in all five modes.
Of course, no game is truly perfect. Geometry Wars could be criticised for being a mite shallow compared to say, Space Giraffe which, underneath Jeff Minter’s psychedelic psychosis is a very tight, structured shooter with a lot going for it. The visuals too, while immensely beautiful and more impressive than before, can feel blindingly intense at times. However, this is really clutching at straws.
This is a truly fantastic game and for just 800 MS points, is probably the best value game on any system right now.