Geometry Wars Galaxies: Wii Review

Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved was one of the earliest Xbox Live Arcade successes on the Xbox 360. It was priced very reasonably (developer, Bizarre Creations, originally wanted the game to be free) and is pick up and play from the get go. Now, Geometry Wars turns physical, and deservedly has a fully fledged game on the shelves that can be touched, hugged and kissed by all its fans without having to abuse a TV to do so.

Geometry Wars: Galaxies is its rather boring title, which was probably chosen from a list of other imaginative titles such as Geometry Wars: Universe and Geometry Wars: Planets. Like I mentioned in the opening paragraph, Galaxies isn’t simply another enhanced version of Retro Evolved, but rather a proper game on an actual CD, therefore it isn’t beamed down your telephone line at super “cable melting” speeds.

Anyone who has given Geometry Wars the time of day, for at least a couple of minutes, will understand me when I say that the game gets brutal very quickly, starting out slowly and then soon challenging you with a screen full of enemies that behave in different ways. This hasn’t stopped people getting scores in the millions and millions, and I can only imagine that these players don’t get much sun, think about the enemy patterns day and night, and aim to climb the leaderboards with an unmatched “life devouring” determination. Galaxies is a little fairer at allowing a more unskilled player to reach a score that he or she wouldn’t have ordinarily been able to climb to even with a towering ladder.

As Galaxies is supposed to be a proper game you’ll get a bit more for your money. Indeed, this means that the developers haven’t been lazy and chucked out a half baked game that could have quite easily appeared on Xbox Live Arcade and priced at the not very princely sum of £3.40. This would have felt like a kick in the teeth, although, as I’ve already mentioned, no such laziness is evident here.

Geom’s will be familiar to anyone who has played Geometry Wars: Waves which was included in Project Gotham Racing 3 (the birthplace of Geometry Wars was actually as a mini game in PGR2). Geom’s appear on-screen with each enemy you kill and if you grab them before they disappear, you’ll get yourself an always satisfactory score multiplier. If you stay alive long ago and keep harvesting those Geom’s you could have the reality of a X150 multiplier, and your score will keep rising until your current life is lost. Geom’s also act as a form of currency in which you can unlock new planets and upgrade your drone.

You’d be forgiven for wondering what on earth the above mentioned drone actually is, as it’s another new feature to Galaxies. You are accompanied by the drone in each grid and it follows you around like a puppy, although opposed to being a pest it’s actually very helpful. The drone is upgradeable and has numerous AI behaviours to take into each level. These include the self explanatory attack (the drone fires in the same direction as yourself) and defend (the drone defends your rear) behaviours. Collect on the other hand has the drone harvesting Geom’s for you, whilst snipe targets those of a high priority and so on. You can purchase new AI behaviours in exchange for Geom’s with a total of eight to eventually choose from.

Whereas you are stuck with a single grid on Retro Evolved, Galaxies introduces all sorts of weirdly and wonderfully shaped grids. This actually adds to the challenge of the game somewhat, as avoiding enemies isn’t quite as straightforward when you have obstacles on the grid. It certainly adds to the variety and long term appeal.

Galaxies is ever so generous as, believe it or not, I’m not finished with mentioning all the new stuff yet. Despite its much more substantial solo mode, unlike Retro Evolved this is no longer a game exclusively for those who play alone. Versus and Co-op are both available, so whether you like working as a cohesive unit, against another player or are completely impartial, the choice is always there and yours to make.

So it’s crunch time, how does Galaxies control on the Wii? Well let me just say that the fact that you can use the classic controller doesn’t mean that the remote is unusable as some people may have thought (some folk just look into things too deeply). Using the remote as a pointer, to shoot those always coming enemies, and the nunchuk to control your direction of movement works perfectly well, but as mentioned earlier the classic control is an option for those who just can’t get on with motion control or prefer the more traditional way of controlling their games.

Top this all off with local and online leaderboards as well as the inclusion of Retro Evolved on the disc, and there’s very little wrong with Geometry Wars: Galaxies. Perhaps the lack of online multiplayer and GameCube controller support will be scabby points for some, whilst the visuals are appealing but obviously not up to the standards of the 360 and HD enhanced Retro Evolved, although in this reviewer’s view it would be churlish and unbelievably picky to vent about these things. Kuju Interactive and Sierra have given the game much love, and in an ideal world everyone else should too.