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Tristan Kalogeropoulos
05 Aug, 2008

Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 Review

360 Review | Evolution at its best.
Sequels are uneasy, troubled creatures. On one hand, if successors to a well received line of games, they hold in their grasp a dedicated fanbase ready to sample their fruits with vigor. However, on the flipside of the same coin, the pressure to perform coupled with their audience’s expectations can drive many to ruin. These pressures to succeed are amplified exponentially when your parent game is one that helped define a platform. That game is Geometry Wars Retro Evolved, and, being the title that almost single-handedly propelled Xbox Live Arcade to success, expectations for its heir were destined to be sky high. It’s a lucky thing for fans of the title that Bizarre Creations, the studio behind the series, have once again crafted a great arcade experience worthy of the hype that surrounds it.

As your eyes sweep across the screen taking in the angular geometric enemies floating around the play area, the first thought is just how similar this game looks to the original. This is a mistaken first impression however, as when the two are placed side by side it’s plainly clear just how lengthy the visual’s journey has been from previous incarnation to this iteration, and rather than being same-same they are simply stunning. Particle effects scatter in high definition glory as your fire cuts through enemies, crisp neon foes rush towards you and Geometry War’s distinct, vector graphics inspired visual style is even brighter, bolder and stands out even more than it ever did.

Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2 has a slew of new game modes. The game is still a dual stick shooter that places you in the confines of a square chunk of galaxy, but despite this, things have definitely changed. Upon first booting up the game you’re presented with only Deadline Mode (the mode from which the Xbox Live leaderboards take their score). From here you’ll unlock more as you play, which takes only time and accumulated score rather than impossible to achieve skill levels. Beyond Deadline mode there are five others being; King, Evolved, Pacifism, Waves and Sequence.

Waving goodbye.

Waving goodbye.
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Deadline mode is, as the name suggests, a time attack mode, giving you three minutes and unlimited lives to get the highest score you can. In King the game spawns circles which are impregnable to your enemies. You must be in the circles to shoot, however once entered they disappear after a brief few seconds, meaning a nomadic journey from key position to key position. Evolved is a mode that will be familiar to those that played the original Geometry Wars and offers up the same essential experience of high score chasing and limited lives. Pacifism mode removes all your power to shoot, offering you a series of exploding gates as the only means to defeat your enemies. It’s kind of a game of exploding slalom, but if you touch the sides of the gate you’re particles will be scattered throughout space along with your enemies. We’ve seen Waves mode and its lines of enemies wiping across the screen before. It’s definitely a game of managing the chaos for as long as you can. The only irritating thing about this game type is the inability to see the whole play area in single player mode – you can in multiplayer – means many a cheap death as a result of not being able to see what’s coming your way. Finally there’s Sequence mode, a mode in which anything goes, as you travel through 20 levels in which you have 30 seconds to wipe out whatever is thrown at you.

Each of these modes is as good as the next. Compared to the first game each is also far more fast paced refraining from slowly building the action and instead launching you almost headlong into it. Even though they’re short lasting, skipping between each can keep you playing for hours. Throw in four player multiplayer (unfortunately it’s not online) and there’s a ton of gameplay to be drawn out from this downloadable experience.

Somehow this all makes sense when you're playing.

Somehow this all makes sense when you're playing.
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In order to increase the speed at which you score, each enemy drops a little green pellet when killed. Each of these increases your multiplier when collected, speeding up the rate at which you can climb towards a high score. The game then becomes a balancing act between grabbing these before they disappear, and protecting your hide from incoming foes and it makes for an interesting challenge indeed.

Bizarre Creations were obviously acutely aware of the fact that constant battles for high scores were one of the key things that kept people coming back to the first Geometry Wars. Here these ever shifting targets are more integrated into the game and its menus, visible every step of the way. From the mode select screen each game type has its top score, along with yours (just so you know how far you’ve got to go), listed alongside it. Additionally, as you play, the next score up from yours is shown in the top right hand corner, taunting you, only to be changed to one that’s higher as you pass it by on your Sisyphusian race to the top of the heap. Not only does this give you something to aim for (and stress about) whilst playing, but it also adds to the addictive nature of the game, bringing out that one more go mentality. Before you know it, it’s 3am and you have to get up in three hours to prepare for that job that allows you to eat between gaming sessions.

It’s not only the high scores that create a great sense of tension. Sound is craftily sewn into the threads of Geometry Wars 2, and it adds a great deal to the overall experience. Music pumps like a heart mid sprint, alarms blare as waves of enemies pour into the square you’re confined within and as time is winding up, audio cues let you know that it’s time to give it your all one last time. King is one game type which uses music incredibly well, with its pumping break beat soundtrack becoming muffled as you emerge from of the circles, losing your power to shoot. In a similar fashion, as Deadline mode is nearing its end, the music’s tempo is sped up to inform you that time is running out.

Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2 is a game that succeeds on many levels. Not only does it provide a great package of gameplay and game types, but it also manages to live up to the expectations set by its predecessor. As an arcade experience, this new Geometry Wars is definitely near the top of the pile, if not at its peak.
The Score
Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2 reminds us why the service is called Xbox Live Arcade, offering up an old school high score chasing extravaganza that's more addictive, varied and even better looking than its predecessor. 9
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Content

Gemotry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 on the way?
05 Apr, 2008 Game classified by the Australian government.
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8 Comments
5 years ago
I wanna play this game. How does it compare to Geometry Wars on the Wii, cause I might have to pick that up.
5 years ago
Just wondering, the review only briefly mentions multiplayer - how many people can play at once? (2? 4?)

Aside from that, great review, and a must-have game. Just want to know if I should save it for when I only have 1 friend over, or if it serves as a party game.

EDIT: nm - just saw screenies. Four players = pwnage. Can't wait - will have to grab this tomorrow. Uni work is going to suffer...
5 years ago
Yeah you're right Sir Haart, the multiplayer is up to four player.
5 years ago
Did they add control customisation, which was lacking in the previous 360 title, but was available on the DS version? I really prefer the buttons to shoot like on the DS rather than the analogue shooting of the original 360 and was hoping that the new version will have added the button customisation feature but the review doesn't say.
5 years ago
PALGN wrote
Before you know it, it's 3am and you have to get up
After buying the game after dinner [last night], i found myself muttering "sh-, 11:30 already? But i haven't got WAX OFF yet!!! Or the Waves achievement..."

I was a bit suspect on having to pay 800pts for the same [albeit awesome] game, but the addictive-ness of this is worth it's weight in gold, if someone was able to translate 40MB into gold...
5 years ago
1mpr3gn4t0r wrote
Did they add control customisation, which was lacking in the previous 360 title, but was available on the DS version? I really prefer the buttons to shoot like on the DS rather than the analogue shooting of the original 360 and was hoping that the new version will have added the button customisation feature but the review doesn't say.
Out of curiosity, how do you aim your shots with the four buttons? Wouldn't that limit you to four directions?
5 years ago
There is no button customisation
5 years ago
This is an amazing game. Pacifism Mode and Waves Mode. Are awesome!
This game is the next gen version of Asteroids , Its so addicting.
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