Are you into arcade games? Do you like vibrant colors? Groovy music? Fast-paced, no-holds-barred in-your-face action, trying-to-stay-alive on-the-edge-of-your-seat annihilate-your-friend’s-score-to-be-number-one-with-MAD-bragging-rights? Then look no further. Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions is here.
I have an admission: my beau loves Geometry Wars. He played the ever-loving crap out of Geometry Wars 2: Retro Evolved and GW2: RE 2. He was so familiar with the game that he was much better equipped than I, it turns out, to judge this upon its predecessors. That edge-of-your-seat I mentioned? That is real. This review was penned before online multi-player was available to judge fairly, the game only just having been released. However, through the old-school wiles of pass-and-play, I too rekindled a love for an arcade style shooter that I might have otherwise forgotten. My little sister and I idled away an hour or two with Geometry Wars back in the day, although the version that I’m most familiar with was released for the Wii, and was called Geometry Wars: Galaxies. Still, though.
The beauty of games like GW was that one-up-manship that exists to a far different degree in most games today. With GW3, a mission that could only have taken a few minutes became a 20-minute conquest. It was something I just don’t have much occasion to do anymore, and this game brought the addictive quality of a mobile offering to the Xbox One with this revamp.
Whether I’m looking to break up the monotony of arduous console campaigns, or just looking for something casual to kill a couple of minutes, this game is just right. It fits perfectly into those moments where you only have 10-15 minutes on your hands, but is also ideal for idling a half hour or more away trying to best your previous high score. For onlookers, it’s easy to see why new developer Lucid Games took the popular Geometry Wars to the next level.
Visually, this game is a wonderful rye nod to the original. The premise–the main objective–of these rainbowy, shape-blasting, chaotic grids is to collect as many points as possible before the timer runs out. Or you run out of lives. Whenever you’re able to destroy an enemy shape…er, ship, you collect points. Collecting points earns you stars. And earned stars beget new grids. Earn points, get stars, kill bosses; repeat.
Players man what passes for a starcraft-esque vessel that is geometric and little else, using either joystick to move and shoot other shapes, presumably unfriendlies. Like another arcade classic, Galatica, new shapes generate as others are destroyed. These enemies are all simple geometric shapes, each of a specific color and with a particular behavior associated with it. Players would do well to memorize the spawning sequences in order to help improve performance as they progress through the grids.
Arenas were also a more modern take on a still-simple concept. Instead of flat, 2D battlespaces, ships traversed 3D arenas in Adventure Mode. Like Paperbound, another title that features constantly reorienting surfaces, Geometry Wars presented a different kind of challenge than I was originally expecting, but in a great way. We were retrying levels again and again in attempts to dominate the quickly re-spawning enemy minions, and the new shifting landscape really added a new dimension–ha!–to the challenge. Some grids can be disorienting, but once players find their geo-legs, they’ll be well on their way to pwning friends, owning bosses, and crushing the leaderboards in no time. So said my fiance, who did all those things, while I mostly threw my controller and cursed.
Single player mode on Geometry Wars 3 came stock with 50 unique challenges, which in and of itself was worth the $14.99 price tag. Also on offer is an online competitive multi-player mode, a cooperative multi-player mode, and more than 10 battle modes, complete with boss stages. I know, right? Pretty industrious from a title that was cherished for its simplicity and sparse eloquence…i.e., little Asteroid-style shapes to shoot at. Players still collect Geoms to increase their score multiplier. Dodging and destroying enemies is still the name of the game. The biggest changes come in the complexity of the environments, and in the diversity of the challenges that this most recent addition to the franchise offers.
New to Geometry Wars 3 (well, for people familiar with the more classic Geometry Wars and GW2; all night I was that annoying SOB saying, “These were in the last one!” like a whiny know-it-all, but my beau had never seen them before) is the addition of drones. As players progress in Adventure Mode, they can unlock unique drones, each with a sub-set of supers. They do a little of everything, from small explosives placed on the grid to turrets and magnets. There was even a black hole. Players earn Geom credits by playing grids; collecting these little frags goes towards upgrading drones and supers. New drones are unlocked after defeating different bosses; supers are unlocked with stars earned from high scores on the grid. While the drones seem sort of new-fangled to old fans of the original Geometry Wars, they prove necessary as the levels become more intense and the challengers more persistent. Fighting and evading various enemy shapes isn’t what it used to be. In order to stay alive in these convoluted grids, players will have to use upgrades, like gun boosts, for a little more firepower.
If you have never experienced Geometry Wars 2, don’t panic! There’s plenty of time to get your hands dirty with Classic Mode. That’s right. Developers were so cool that they added six–count ’em, six!–classic modes to this installment of the Geo Wars legacy: Deadline, King, Evolved, Pacificism, Waves, and Sequence modes have returned. Some of the behaviors feel a little foreign on this new platform, sort of like classic Killer Instinct on Xbox Live. However–also like Killer Instinct–players can overlook the small incongruities in the swell of gratitude that comes with getting reacquainted with a well-loved classic.