Geometry Wars 2 (XBLA)

Review: Geometry Wars 2

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Shooter/Twin-stick/Arcade

Hi Doc, yeah it’s about my retinas…

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Rich

I was never a fan of the first Geometry Wars.  It was definitely reasonable in the short term with its neon graphics and accessible gameplay but it got old quickly, especially when it started spawning enemies on top of you and when it became all too apparent that the way to score big was to keep circling the screen.  Also, the absolutely awful music didn’t help matters either.

So when Geometry Wars 2 was announced I wasn’t massively fussed, especially as there are currently enough twin-stick shooters on Live to last several lifetimes but whatever concerns I had about the first game seem to have been addressed with this sequel.  Sure, it still provides the same twin-stick shooty action and, yes, it still fills the screen with as many brightly-coloured pixels as possible but it’s also a much more considered effort than the previous game.

Would you like to play a game?

Would you like to play a game?

The first thing that strikes you about Geometry Wars 2 is that there are now six modes.  Each one offers its own spin on the standard GeoWars gameplay and there should be something there for every type of player.  In explaining some of the new gameplay mechanics, it is worth looking at the ‘Evolved’ mode as this is the one that is closest to the original game.

In ‘Evolved’ you keep playing until you run out of lives.  Where the first game had you circling to survive, this mode attempts to draw you out of that comfort zone by dropping ‘geoms’ whenever you shoot an enemy.  Geoms increase your multiplier by one and so cannot really be ignored.  This makes the game for more interesting and introduces more of a risk/reward element to the game.

The main mode of GeoWars2 is ‘Deadline’.  This is perfect for a quick pick up and play session as it gives you three minutes to score as much as possible.  You have infinite lives but dying clears the screen of enemies and therefore limits your scoring potential for a while.  If the original game bored you after a while, this could be the mode for you as it’s immediate and competitive especially as all the modes display the score of the next person above you on your leaderboard.  Believe me, it will motivate you.

If Space Invaders shat pyro.

If Space Invaders shat pyro.

Next up is ‘King’.  In this mode you can only shoot when in a small circular zone.  These zones don’t last long though and so you’ll need to keep moving.  However, when you move out, you’re helpless for a while.  It’s a nice, dramatic twist on the formula and has an almost zombie invasion-esque quality to it.  Which is a bit wanky to say but still true.  If they’d called the mode ‘Siege’, it’d have made more sense.

Then we have ‘Pacifism’, which is my favourite of all the modes.  In this mode you have no weapons and are chased around by blue squares.  To kill them you need to slalom through slowly rotating gates.  This will detonate the gates, hopefully taking a few enemies with them (the gates also appear in other modes and can be detonated in the same way or can reflect bullets which scores higher than normal kills).  After that it’s up to you if you want to go and pick up those precious geoms, a decision that will either pay off with plenty of sweet, sweet multiplier points or will get you killed.  This mode is pure crack as by the time you die, you’ll have enough multipliers that just another ten seconds could add half a million to your score.  Also, painfully, it’s ALWAYS your fault if you die.  Prepare to lose days to this one.

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Steven

Secondary Review

Those fucking green squares!

We’ve all played the first Geometry Wars, and even if you haven’t you’ve probably played one of the myriad of twin stick shooter clones which popped up in it’s wake.

When I heard a sequel was out it was with some apprehension that I approached it, knowing the near sublime perfection of the first game I didn’t know how this sequel would stack up.

Initially things are confusing as it still looks basically the same but then you find yourself playing with infinite lives, collecting items to increase your multiplier and against a countdown you start to get a bit wary. However this is only one of six unlockable modes, one of which is the original classic mode, the other modes each twist the basic premise of the game in a unexpected way. Some modes work very well but others just miss the mark, and it would be annoying if the game was only based on one of these modes, thankfully it’s not and you will inevitably find your favourite.

The music and graphics have now been given an overhaul and work together very well, the remix of the original music in Evolved being a particular highlight. This is a very generous package,as it’s in effect six shooters in one game. The tinkering they have done to the game by including new enemies, environmental features and the aforementioned modes never break the perfect balancing of the original game and I can wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone, whether you own the original or not.

Secondary Score: 8/10

‘Waves’ is based on the bonus game in Project Gotham Racing 4.  In this mode lines of orange triangles sweep across the screen at an alarmingly fast rate without specifically targeting you.  It’s one of the hardest modes in the game though, just because of the speed and numbers of the enemy.  Unfortunately this mode is let down by throwing in the occasional regular enemy which will tend to sneak up on you when you’re focussed on the main ones.  It seems a bit unfair when you are killed by a blue box that really shouldn’t even be there.

Finally we have ‘Sequence’ which is set over twenty pre-set levels.  The enemies and spawn times do not vary, so you can approach this like a regular memory shooter.  That said, it is BOLLOCKSLY difficult.  The predictability of the levels is compensated for by throwing huge numbers of geometric bastards at you and the two achievements for this mode seem to be permanently out of my reach it seems.

So I’ve got two modes that I don’t rate, two that I quite like and two that I love and would happily have bought seperately.  Other people will prefer different modes to me but it’s all good as everything is catered for here.  Each mode also has its own background music, all of which is a massive improvement from the cheesy techno nonsense of the original and, graphically speaking, the production values of this game have been ramped up from the original.  In fact, after a few hours of this game, the original GeoWars looks very basic indeed.  There’s even four-player offline co-op thrown in as an interesting but slightly pointless addition.

I can’t really say enough good things about Geometry Wars 2.  The controls are as tight and intuitive as ever and the price (800M$P) seems like a complete steal compared to other games released this year.  With the active leaderboards, great variety of modes and classic arcadey gameplay Geometry Wars 2 is, by some distance, the most complete and yet accessible game on the Xbox Live Arcade service but more than that is just a perfectly honed example of the genre.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★★ 10/10

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