When Bizzare Creations shipped Project Gotham Racing 3 with the Xbox 360 launch, they could hardly have known that a small game within could become so popular. Geometry Wars quickly became
For those who have not played Geometry Wars, it is very much like Asteroids except those rocks flying towards you are instead typical every day shapes such as squares and triangles. Get hit by one and its all over. Sounds boring and plain right? What makes Geometry Wars so different is the fast paced nature and its 'just one more time' feel. As quickly as you leave a game you can get another one going leading to a high level of addiction. There is nothing really innovative about the series but it harks back to what many consider the golden age of gaming when arcades ruled the world and the Xbox 360 was only a glint in Microsoft's eye.
Bizarre have added a number of new features for the sequel, some coming from Geometry Wars 'Waves', others coming from Retro Evolved. One thing which the game does is pace itself well. As you start you only have access to one mode - 'Deadline'. From there, as you play more, other modes are unlocked until a total of five extras are playable, each with varying options. The progression is natural, for instance in the first unlocked mode you have unlimited lives but only three minutes to see how many points you can score. From there the other modes slowly introduce you to the various mechanics of the game, before the ultimate challenge awaits.
Outside of 'Deadline', where you have unlimited lives and three minutes to gain a high score, the other modes include 'King', where you can only shoot when in certain areas of the playing field, 'Evolved' which is the classic game mode, 'Pacificism' which tasks you with not shooting enemies but passing through gates which explode, 'Waves' which just like the PGR4 mini game throws wave after wave of objects towards your ship, and finally 'Sequence' which pits you up against thirty different challenges that each need to be completed in a short time frame. As you can see variety is not lacking in this game and it is one reason why it remains one of, if not the best on XBLA.
The other big additions are multiplayer focused. When playing locally you can play co-operatively for some mayhem style gameplay and if online on Xbox Live, your scoreboards in game automatically update with that of your friends scores. So rather than trying to beat one of the most ridiculously insane scores ever which is posted at number one, you have a much easier target, and one with higher bragging rights no doubt. Visually the game also has had an overhaul. The game looks truly stunning to look at and while it's not using some fancy 3D engine such as Unreal exactly, it gets the job done and a rock solid frame rate also helps. The soundtrack is catchy and despite being repetitive tends not to get on the nerves.
Geometry Wars 2 hits all the right notes and is easily one of the best XBLA releases and one of the best games released this year. Bizarre has shown what a developer can do with a seemingly small idea and low budget; turn it into one of the most popular Xbox games around. You simply must play this game if you have an Xbox 360. Just don't blame us when the early hours of the evening quickly become the wee small hours in what seems to be five minutes.
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