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  • Game Review: Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 (XBLA)

    Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2
    Publisher: Activision
    Developer: Bizarre Creations
    Genre: Arcade Shooter
    Players: 1-4 (Offline)
    MSRP: 800 MS point ($10, £6.80, €9.30)
    Platform: Xbox 360

    Geometry has never been so fun.

    Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved was one of the first XBLA titles on the market. Despite debuting almost three years ago, the five dollar shooter-that-could is still being played like a drug by many to this day. Its still a mystery to some how such a simple game could be so fun and addictive. I've never really been much of a Robotron fan, which has obviously influenced this game a good bit, so I was among the doubters. However, after playing Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 for even just a few hours, I can see how this craze "evolved"(pun intended). Bizarre Creation's sequel to the LIVE hit seems to be just what fans wanted; more modes, more leaderboards, and even more simple and colorful gameplay. Read on, though you probably already know from my opening statements how THIS review is gonna end.

    The best way to describe Geometry Wars graphical style in a word is probably, "Rave". This game absolutely bursts with electronic style and color. The effects of the game are its best graphical feature. Brilliantly colored particle effects and explosions always keep this game visually appealing, and its one of the few Arcade games that can be as fun to watch as it is to play. The warping of the map with bombs and explosions catch the eye especially well. Enemies and the main character are extremely simple. Then again, they are supposed to be simple, and the fact that they are nothing more then geometric shapes gives the game a much better opportunity to make them both appealing to the eye and diverse. Everything in the game glows, literally. Really, I don't have pretty much anything negative to say about the graphics of this game. They are extremely simple, yet the colors and effects make this 2D game stand out greatly in a world where 3D has taken over. The only thing that really is only "average" in the graphical style is probably the menus. They still look like classic arcade menus, which is kind of neat, but it could have used a flashier display then it has.

    "Hypnotic" doesn't begin to describe this.

    The graphics were very electronically styled. That's not the only thing though, as the music follows suit. The original only had one soundtrack, and though it wasn't too shabby, it did get old after a while. This time, however, they added a custom track to each one of the six game modes. To me, most of the music sounded too similar to each other, bar Evolved mode, which had a really catchy tune. All of the music seems to have near the same beat, which really may make it get on the nerves of some people. Personally the music didn't get too annoying, as after a while my ears just tuned it out. While each of the game modes have fairly decent music, the menu music is, for the most part, absolutely unnoticeable. Its not such a big deal, but I really wouldn't have minded some better music to listen to while watching the leaderboards to decide whose score I'm gonna debunk next.

    Sound more or less follows the music in being 'average'. The SFX absolutely works for what its supposed to, don't get me wrong. But the same sound every time you shoot and every time an enemy goes up in a cloud of colorful particles does leave a bit to be desired. Enemies are silent. Some of the modes have some pretty neat effects though; in King once you step outside a ring the music mutes, only to resume upon reaching another ring. In deadline, the music builds to a climax exactly at the end of the game, and so on and so forth. So there are some neat little things in the sounds, but the things that you hear by far the most are a bit too repetitive. Nothing here will make you get very annoyed though, since the music usually blocks the major part of the sounds.

    Making a jump here to the gameplay. The original Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved had only a single game type. Geometry Wars RE2 comes with six different game modes, all fun, though some more then others. The six modes include Deadline, King, Evolved, Pacifism, Waves, and Sequence. In Deadline, you get five minutes to rack up as much points as you can. You have infinite lives though, but each time you die the enemies are reset, which gives you less chance for points. In King, you must shoot from within circles that appear on the ground. Enemies can't enter the circles, though you can't shoot outside the circles. Also, the circles die out in about 2-3 seconds, so you have to keep moving. Evolved is the original Geometry Wars mode, where you have a number of lives and just rack up points as long as you can. In Pacifism you cannot shoot. You rely solely on lines that you can pass through to blow up enemies around you while trying to survive. Waves has you constantly fighting wave after wave of enemies until you finally can't keep up. Last but not least in sequence, where you have 20 levels and try to survive all of them.

    That's not a glitch-- the level warping is a graphical effect.

    None of these game modes are boring. In fact, just about every one of them is fun, though some more then others. Deadline seems to be more inclined toward those learning how to play, since death doesn't really have any lasting toll on you in this mode. Therefore more hardcore players may get bored with this mode after only a few times. King is a mode that will keep you interested for a while. Since circles aren't always very close to each other, you need to always be sure to remember to keep a path open to the next circle. This can get very difficult late in the game, since the snake enemies can almost "wrap" around your circle and deny you access to another. Evolved is this games Classic mode. If you never played the GW:RE 1 then this may be one of the best modes, as it is the most simple but ultimately challenging mode, depending on how long you can survive. Pacifism is probably the most unique mode. Since you cant fire a shot, this mode revolves around how good you are at luring enemies into line traps and them manoeuvring yourself out from between the remaining enemies. The gameplay here may be a little too simple, though it still remains pretty enjoyable. Waves may be the least interesting of the modes; it has many waves of the same enemy coming at you every few seconds. Soon after it has a few renegade enemies to try and distract you from the waves. This game mode usually relays on the many colorful explosions to make you not see the enemies until its too late. Really, its a bit cheap. Sequence will have you trying the longest. Each level that you progress through hundreds of enemies come at you at once, which ends up being extremely hard, but also very fun. The challenge is present to some of the best players by level 5, and it only gets harder. The replay value for this mode is very high.

    Now that I've explained all the modes, I'll move on to what makes the core of each. Every gameplay mode still has you destroying mostly the same enemies in the same way. If you aren't really very fond of the core gameplay, then this game has little else to offer you. However, the core is also very simple which allows newcomers and veterans of Geometry Wars to enjoy its simple but highly addicting gameplay. Another addicting part of this game is the leaderboards. I for one have never cared in practically any game about leaderboards or besting my friends scores. Geometry Wars changed that. Because the boards are always staring at you from the game menu, you feel compelled to try and get the best score you can. it will make you go back many, many times to try and best your buddies, and your own score. This adds a huge amount of longevity to the game.

    Awesome explosions are commonplace.

    Not to mention local multiplayer, which is an awesome inclusion to the game as well. There are two types of modes for each, well, mode in Geometry Wars; there is Co-op and versus. In Versus mode you and a friend try to get scores better then each other. If one person dies, the other one can keep fighting until he's gone too. Co-op mode has you and some friends blasting enemies for a combined high scores. Oh, and you can add up to 4 people in a game. As a party game, this is the one of the best XBLA titles out there. You have never experienced Geometry Wars until you have 4 people playing at once. Also in multiplayer is the addition of powerups, which give you enhanced speed or a bomb or a shield. This takes the place of your bombs in single player. The only real problem with multiplayer is that some parts of it felt like it was an after though, only added in because they had to. I'm mainly talking about how it really just feels like single player with allies in co-op. Versus is made pretty well, but in Co-op, you can't really do any special things like joint attacks or give your pal a life if he dies. Other then that, multiplayer is just what the doctor ordered. Its just too bad that they don't have online multiplayer, that would have added much more replay value. C'mon Activision, make a patch!

    Well that's that.

    Major Selling points:
    -- Highly colorful and appealing graphics
    -- Classic Gameplay feel
    -- Addicting gameplay and leaderboards
    -- 6 gameplay modes
    -- Simple and accessible gameplay

    Major Breaking points:
    -- Simplistic gameplay may bore some
    -- Some gameplay modes may get repetitive
    -- Leaderboards may not appeal to some, reducing a lot of replay value
    -- No Xbox LIVE play

    Story: N/A
    Not added to final score.
    Graphics: 4.5/5
    One of the best looking Arcade titles available, and maybe on of the best 2D games I've ever seen this generation.
    Sound: 4/5
    The electronic soundtrack is alright, but the sound effects leave a bit to be desired.
    Gameplay: 4.5/5
    Absolutely addictive and fun Arcade style gameplay. 6 gameplay modes give a good enough variety for most people to like it.
    Replay Value: 4.5/5
    6 gameplay modes will have you constantly going back to try and better your score, and leaderboards will have you bettering other peoples scores too. The lack of LIVE play really hurts.
    Value: 4/5
    At $10, this game is quite a nice value. It will last you a long time if you like the core gameplay. Multiplayer is pretty fun as well.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Game Review: Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 (XBLA) started by Shadowblind View original post
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