Review: Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2

Filed under: , by: Grundy the Man

My wife was curious the other day and asked me to describe Geometry Wars. I was at a loss. The best description I could muster was, "Imagine what it was like to play the old school Asteroids game... Now imagine playing it on acid!" Playing the game on acid is a fair description, because it is so damn addictive. As I mentioned in my earlier preview, I was absolutely amazed that I was enjoying myself playing this game. After many more hours of thumb and mind numbing action, my opinion remains the same.

There are numerous twin-stick shooters available on Xbox LIVE, but Retro Evolved 2 is the only game to have perfected the feel of "controlled chaos." While the formula hasn't changed much from the past Geometry Wars, the addition of "geoms" from Geometry Wars: Galaxies on the Wii, has completely changed the way the game is played. Geoms are green crystals found in remains of eliminated enemies, that will add to the score multiplier.

A widely accepted approach to Retro Evolved revolved around making a panicked retreat, while blindly firing at the following enemies. This worked well because destroying enemies would build the multiplier, as long as the player stayed alive. Strategies like this still work in the sequel, but do not yield the high scores of the past.

Geoms force the player to return to the sites of dead enemies in order to build the multiplier. Aided by the fact that the multiplier no longer resets when you die, advanced players are taking a more aggressive, head on, attacking approach. Now you will see obscenely high scores in the five hundred millions or higher!

This game is far more then a rehash of the original title. The game has expanded to include six different modes:


The player is under a three minute time limit, to accumulate as many points as possible. The best part of this mode is there are unlimited lives. This was the mode that was included as part of the demo. As a person who was fairly new to the series, the fact that you don't have to worry about lives, was a brilliant way to market the game.

This is what the folks at Bungie Studios would refer to as a "re-imagining" of the original Retro Evolved. The addition of the geoms, as mentioned earlier, really change the dynamic of how the game is played. It is just as fun the second time around!

A rehash of the mode included in Project Gotham Racing 4, will overwhelm even the most experienced players. Ships will fly in from all directions, until the player has nowhere to go. The key to success it to try to stay in the center of the map for as long as possible, but good luck with that!

Imagine a speed dating version of the Evolved mode. There are twenty different sets of enemies that have a predefined position. The goal is to clear each set in thirty seconds. If a player dies, they just move onto the next grid, until either all grids have been attempted or the supply of lives are exhausted. Modes like this remind me how bad I am at games in this genre, but when it was all said and done, I still wanted to try it again.

For a game that made its name with fantastically blinding firefights and mayhem, it is refreshing to play a mode that gives you no ammunition whatsoever. The main object is to pass though these barbell-looking gates that cause a small explosion, killing the ships chasing you. Eventually things become overwhelming as hordes of baddies keep regenerating.

Players must frantically navigate from orb to orb, all while gathering geoms and avoiding enemies. The kicker is that ammunition can only be fired from inside of orbs that act as shields. To make things more difficult, the orbs begin to collapse after the first shot is fired. Claustrophobics need not apply!

Many game sites have been heralding Pacifism as if it were the second coming of Christ. I disagree wholeheartedly, in fact, I think it is a little bit cheap. It seemed that whenever a decent multiplier was built up, I would get taken out by an enemy spawning directly in front of me. This phenomenon is responsible for a couple near death experiences on the part of my controller.

Reviewers need to remember that a single game mode does not make a game worth purchasing. But six solid modes, that's a different story all together. At a ten dollar (1600 spacebucks) price point and a offering a variety of different styles of play, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 is one of the best values available on Xbox LIVE Arcade.


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