Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 Xbox 360 Review

May 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

December 2005 was the time that Microsoft was struggling with the simultaneous launch of the Xbox 360 in all the major territories; it was also when Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved proved to be one of the early talking points of the console’s Xbox Live Arcade service. The genesis of the game may have been a mere mini game in Project Gotham Racing 2, although Geometry War’s impact on Xbox Live Arcade proved to be a major success story.

A sequel was bound to happen some time or another, and in 2008 it did – better late than never with the review, eh? Anyway, those expecting a vastly improved follow-up will be pleased to know that Geometry Wars 2 does indeed make the original game look like the mini game that it once was. As an example of its superiority, you only got the one mode in the original game; here you get an impressive six.

Indeed, there are new modes and fresh features, though obviously we still wanted to play Geometry Wars, and Geometry Wars it still is. The ship is still controlled with the left stick and its direction of fire with the right stick, each game still takes place on a flat playing level, and enemies once again begin in little supply, spawning out of thin air at a much higher frequency the longer you manage to survive – thank god for those handy bombs which can be triggered when you really need them if you have one readily at hand.

Each enemy still have their different behaviours and patterns of attacks: some home in on your position; others are a nuisance at avoiding your attacks, there’s a variety that fly’s horizontally and vertically in a straight line across the screen, amongst others. The screen can get really busy and colourful, and it’s quite easy to panic when there are green squares dancing away from your gunfire, orange ships soaring upwards and across the screen, and clusters of diamonds heading towards you from every corner of the screen.

Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 allows you to get high scores at a much quicker pace than the original game, and that’s because of the geoms. Geoms aren’t a new thing to Geometry Wars, having already appeared in the Project Gotham 3 version and the boxed release of Geometry Wars: Galaxies, but here they aren’t without their changes. Geoms are left behind when you destroy enemies, in which picking them up will add to your score multiplier. If you lose a life, the score multiplier that you have so far earned isn’t lost with it, meaning that the longer the game lasts, the higher the said multiplier will be. If you’re one of those superhuman players, there’s obviously potential for some astronomically high scores.

The Evolved mode (four lives, three bombs and the aim to score as high as possible) makes its return, but, as mentioned earlier, it is joined by five fresh modes. Deadline mode gives you infinite lives but only three minutes, and while getting destroyed may not lose you any lives it will lose you valuable time – you know the precious time where you should be exploding enemies, picking up geoms and earning points as opposed to burning up in space. Sequence mode gives you a set of 20 levels and 30 seconds to destroy all the enemies on each one, and, while lives are limited, losing one will automatically take you on to the next level.

The final three modes only give you a single life to play with. The King mode doesn’t allow you to shoot at foes until you position yourself inside protective circles, although sadly these circles disperse after a short time, leaving you out in the open to pick up as many geoms as possible and then quickly find the sanctuary of another circle before you’re overwhelmed and without any offence to fight back. Waves mode (first introduced in Project Gotham Racing 4) has enemies coming at you in lines from all angles and if you don’t make gaps for your own ship, then you’ll find that your single life has been wasted – thrown away like a piece of space junk, even. Finally, Pacifism is definitely my weakest mode, it cruelly takes away your weapons and enemy destruction is only possible by passing though gates. Keen players of the original will remember the pacifism achievement (earned by not using any weapons for 60 seconds); well obviously this mode was spawned from that and then fleshed out a bit.

For me, Pacifism may be the worst of the lot, although out of the six modes there’s not a single one that is so weak that I would never play it again. In fact all the modes are wonderful fun and the variety assures that each has an identity of its own. The new content doesn’t stop there, though, as the sequel also has a very pleasing and chaotic local multiplayer mode for up to four players. There’s versus and cooperative and all the single player modes can be played in whichever variety you choose, although, with so much going on at once, you truly have to get yourself in that special hypnotic place, freeing your mind of any distractions. For those who’d like some online competition, well it’s here in a fashion. The game encourages you to chase and beat the scores of your friends, displaying the friend with the lowest score at the top of the screen, and then when you beat that it’ll alter to the next highest score achieved by another friend. It’s a clever idea and goes some way to silencing any complaints about the lack of online play.

The game isn’t only improved with its brand new features. Visually, Geometry Wars 2 is sharp, eye catching and beautiful, with loads of lovely visual and particle effects going on across the often very busy screen. The music is also more varied and interesting than the original and in modes such as King it changes depending on the situation.

Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 is an excellent and much improved sequel, with plenty of variety in its modes and the compulsion to keep playing until your score hits the millions (I’m not very good, but I keep on trying to better my score and always enjoy myself while doing so). Quite simply, it does more than enough to make the original game redundant and that statement really highlights its vast quality.