Geometry Wars has very humble beginnings. The very first Geometry Wars title was included as a bonus in Project Gotham Racing 2. A sequel to the first title was released on the Xbox Live Arcade and frankly, we loved it. Bizarre Creations included Geometry Wars: Waves in Project Gotham Racing 4, but Geometry Wars: Galaxies is the first time the title has appeared as more than a budget priced downloadable title. The game is still available at a budget price in the shops but is Geometry Wars: Galaxies good enough to be released as a stand alone title, or should the series have stayed off the shelves and stuck to downloadable services?
For the four people or so who aren't familiar with the game Geometry Wars is a shooter. On the Xbox the right thumbstick is used to direct your shots in a 360 degree fashion and the left analog stick is used too move your little claw shaped ship. By defeating the swarm of enemies players will increase their score. On the Nintendo DS the concept is the same, but quite a few things have changed. The most notable change is of course the controls, which are a little bit different. The Nintendo DS doesn't have a analog stick, so players can choose to fire with the Nintendo DS face buttons and direct the ship with the left directional pad, but most players will choose the stylus option. The stylus can be used to control the direction of fire while the directional pad is used to control the ship. The L and R buttons meanwhile will detonate bombs. It's a surprisingly intuitive setup that works very well. Left handers (of which there are a few here at PALGN HQ, this reviewer included) will also be over the moon to learn that there is also a left hand option, which basically switches the controls so that the face buttons move while the stylus is used for shooting. It's actually surprising just how intuitive the new controls are and even though there is no analog stick, the stylus more than makes up for the hardware's limitations.
Galaxies also features a brand new extensive single player mode simply called Galaxies. Players start off in the Alpha galaxy and travel to different planets. Each planet has a medal target and a different playing field layout. After selecting which planet to play on, players select a drone and the game begins. One of the fundamental changes to the Geometry Wars formula is the introduction of geoms. Geoms are a form of currency and when enemies are destroyed they will drop yellow geoms which can be collected. By collecting geoms the multipliers will increase, but they will also result in weapon changes as well as extra lives and more bombs. These geoms can also be used to unlock unvisited planets as well as upgrade drone behaviour. When players begin the game their drone will only be focused on attack, but by purchasing upgrades players will soon unlock behaviours such as snipe, ram and turret. These behaviours also increase throughout battle and really do add a little more depth to the game - most players will want to increase their drones. Those who love high scores will also be pleased to know that high scores for every planet can be viewed via the Wi-Fi connection, with the game even ranking your score.
Galaxies also adds some multiplayer options and includes support local play. The game supports game share and it's possible to send a copy of Retro Evolved to your friend if they don't have a copy of Galaxies. There are three multiplayer options, co-op, simultaneous and versus, though none of them are online, with the online options restricted to the online leaderboards previously mentioned. None of the multiplayer options are all that fleshed out. Co-op is far too chaotic for its own good, simultaneous gives each player a score counter and versus puts players in control of the ship and one player in control of the enemies. So while the multiplayer features aren't that appealing, including them is certainly better than not.
There are a few other bonuses included in Galaxies which make the game feel like even better value. First up is the inclusion of Retro Evolved - yes, the title which was released on the Live Arcade a few years ago. It really is only when you go back to Retro Evolved that you realise just how much more basic Retro Evolved is on comparison to its sequel. A nice touch is the fact that online leaderboards can also be viewed via the Wi-Fi connection as well. The Nintendo DS version can also hook up to the Wii version and doing so will result in a new galaxy, which is a decent addition.
For all the inclusions in Geometry Wars: Galaxies the greatest compliment we can pay the game is that is feels like a much superior sequel to Retro Evolved. It's a deeper game, it's even more challenging, there are more levels and new enemies but most importantly the game feels like a Geometry Wars title. Sure, Bizarre Creations didn't develop the game, but anyone who is a Geometry Wars fan will immediately be able to pick this title up and use similar tactics to achieve a respectable score. This isn't to say that Geometry Wars fans will be able to just play the game and breeze through it, as Galaxies still puts up quite a challenge. Ultimately, even though Galaxies features more of everything, the game really does feel like a Geometry Wars title, which has us very happy indeed.
Geometry Wars: Galaxies is a fantastic shooter and a title we have no hesitation in recommending to shooter fans or Geometry Wars addicts. We were a little hesitant about the game when it was first announced because the other titles have been budget priced, but with new weapons, a deep single player mode and online play Geometry Wars: Galaxies is a fantastic sequel to Geometry Wars. It's easily the best Geometry Wars title available and at a budget price point this is a game that just about everyone should have in their Nintendo DS collection.