The human heart likes a little disorder in its geometry
Geometry Wars 2
Release Date: July 30, 2008
Developer: Bizarre Creations
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Reviewed by: Brian Wray
When the Xbox 360 launched in November of 2005 (yep, it has been that long already), there was not a huge selection of games available, and even less a game that could be used to show off the Xbox 360 to friends, that is unless one visited the Xbox Live Arcade and tried out a little game called Geometry Wars Retro Evolved. This simple 2D shooter took the gaming world by storm with it’s super fast gameplay and HD graphics. Geometry Wars Retro Evolved did have the benefit of being released when few other games were available, so how would the sequel fare in a much more crowded market?
I did not bother with the trial version of Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2 (from this point on referred to as Geometry Wars 2). I loved the first game, and knew that I would get my $11.42 worth out of the sequel, even if it was not as good as the first one. Gameplay wise, very little has changed in this new version of Geometry Wars. The player still controls his/her ship with the left analog stick and fires with the right analog stick and can detonate a bomb with either the left or right trigger.
This is a good thing, for the simplicity of the controls was part of the reason this game was so much fun, and why fix what was not broke. But there was a few broken items in the first Geometry Wars, so it is expected that there will be some changes in the sequel. Some of the changes include only one fully stocked weapon available to the player. Gone is the flame weapon from the first game. The other big change is in the way to game calculates it's score. In the first game, the score multiplier increased as more enemies were destroyed, but this multiplier would reset itself when a ship was lost. This time the multiplier is determined by picking up little triangles that are left on the game screen once an enemy has been defeated. These triangles increase the game’s multiplier. This multiplier remains even if a ship is lost.
Not really a change, more of an addition, Geometry Wars 2 features a bunch of new enemy types and the addition of gates. These gates can be breached (in the middle, do not touch either end) and this act will destroy a gate and any enemy in the surrounding area.
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The previously listed differences or additions are subtle. The main noticeable change is in the various game modes that is available in Geometry Wars 2. The game features 6 different game modes as compared to only the single game mode that was available in the first iteration.
• Deadline has the gamer attempt the highest score possible in 3 minutes. In this game mode, players have unlimited lives and 3 bombs at their disposal. Just because lives are unlimited is not a license to play recklessly as each time a life is loss it will have for consequence a greatly reduced rate of enemy respawns greatly affecting the final score.
• In King, the player has only one life and no bombs. Further more, the player can only shoot from round safety zones. These zones also keep out enemies, but once a zone has been activated (touched or entered) it starts to degrade and will soon shrink and disappear allowing the enemies to swoop in on the poor soul that did not make it to the next zone on time.
• The Evolved mode is what would be considered regular Geometry Wars 2. Gamers start with 3 lives and 3 bombs and can gain more lives and bombs at certain scoring checkpoints. There is no time limit to this mode.
• In Pacifism gamers have no weapons and no bombs and are forced to pass through gates to destroy nearby enemies. Passing through multiple gates in rapid succession will increase a bonus score.
• In Waves game mode, the player has one life a and no bombs. The challenge is to avoid waves of enemies that fly either horizontally or vertically from one end of the playfield to the other. As the game progresses, the waves increase in frequency and other enemies also start appearing.
• The final game mode is called Sequence. This mode is a test of survival. There are 20 levels that need to be completed. To complete a level, the gamer either needs to defeat a pre-determined amount of enemies with preset patterns in 30 seconds, or to simply die. The trick is to finish all 20 levels before running out of lives. The developer saw fit to provide the player with 3 lives and 3 bombs and also the potential to win others.
Graphically the game is simply stunning to watch. In no time the screen will be filled with colourful geometric shapes all trying to take you out. The games music does a great job of getting gamers into the grove of the game, and does it without getting annoying even after several hours of gameplay.
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Another thing I noticed was that the developers at Bizarre Creations are a sadistic bunch. This is most apparent with their list of achievements for this game. With the first Geometry Wars, the achievements were so difficult that most realized they would never unlock them. Very few people can get a score of 1 million points, let alone on their very first life, but in Geometry Wars 2, the achievement sound attainable. For the most part this is true with some practice, but a few of the achievements will drive gamers bonkers trying to unlock them. For example, in Pacifism there is a set of achievements called “Wax On” and “Wax Off”. The goal is to “paint” the four walls of the game field by using the ship to touch the entire perimeter of the game field for “Wax On” and then once again for “Wax Off”. Now the Pacifism mode does not allow for any weapons, so by the time “Wax On “ has been accomplished, the screen is already plenty crowded with blue diamonds trying to take out the player’s ship, and by the time you get to 90% of wax off, there are so many enemies on the screen that you can barely move making this achievement extremely challenging indeed. Another achievement that will test gamers skills is the King mode achievement. The challenge is that the gamer must activate 30 zones without firing a single shot. The first 20 zones are easy enough, but all enemies appear to speed up when zone 24 has been activated making the final 6 zones a head bashing ordeal. But these two achievements are nothing compared to the “Smile” achievement. This achievement has the player failing on purpose 5 of the 20 challenges in the Sequence game mode, while completing the other to create a smile pattern on the level selection screen. The problem is not in failing a level, it’s in ensuring not to fail a level as this will ruin the smile (and the player’s sanity).
Geometry Wars 2 also features 4 player co-op play , but this co-operation is limited to only the Evolved game mode and is limited to only local play. To me this was a non-issue as most of my friends do not share my passion for fast moving geometry based shooters, so I would be hard pressed to find anyone who would want to play with me. I also question how a 4 player game would proceed. The game is so crazy with just one player, I can only imagine it being way more crazy and confusing with multiple players on screen.
Overall Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2 is a fun addictive title that will keep you busy for many hours. I would recommend this game to anyone that loves face paced shooters. On the other hand, if your reflexes as a bit slow, then maybe you should skip this game as you will just end up banging your head in frustration against anything and everything.