737th played so far

Genre: Shoot ‘Em Up
Platform: Xbox 360
Year of Release: 2008
Developer: Bizarre Creations
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios

After playing the first Geometry Wars game, I felt we played a nice shoot ’em up that was nice in shorter bursts. It didn’t sustain itself for too long, but the stripped down aesthetic and general feel really scratched that shooter itch without the annoyances the older games in the genre would bring along. It felt modern and more playable.

A sequel, then, would have to balance that, and it seems like Geometry Wars 2 does so by being willing to mix it up and change the game around. It’s a decent strategy that doesn’t always pay off, as it can dilute the game as well. We’ll ened to see where it falls today.

Our Thoughts

While the first game’s simplicity was its boon, I don’t think this sequel would have gotten away with doing just that – especially as it’s not just a minigame, but is sold as its own Xbox arcade game. What it does is to expand the number of game modes offered. This goes from a score attack like the original game to having unlimited lives, but a time limit, to the point where you can’t shoot unless you’re in a safe area or only destroy enemies by flying through gates. It’s a pretty nice set of options and as you unlock them one at a time, I had enough time to appreciate each of them. The way it’s ordered builds nicely as well, introducing new weapons and options at each go. Often, concepts vital to a mode are introduced one or two earlier so you can get used to them and requirements on your score – low but enough to make you work for them – mean you have to give each mode a good try before moving on.

Once you get in the game, its abstract visuals persist and match with the technomusic. It is a great combination that keeps you focused but also sets up a large number of enemies that are easy to distinguish and often hint well at what they do anyway. There’s a big variation in them, with different behaviours and attacks. The distinction between the approach modes of some is especially interesting – two very similar enemies has one always following you, while the other backs off, for example, and it’s neat when you can explore and exploit that.

Final Thoughts

Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 lives up to its predecessor, improving the gameplay by expanding its modes outwards rather than trying to go bigger. The core gameplay stays the same and the excellent visuals stay the same, but it tweaks the formulas enough to stay interesting. A lot is the same thing, but you have to change your approach each time to be slightly different. It’s become a shooter that I actually want to go back to – and that’s really rare.