Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2

We check out Bizarre Creations' striking 1080p sequel.

360 (XBLA)
Bizarre Creations

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By Alan Boiston

No game has been more important to the launch of Xbox Live Arcade than Geometry Wars. The title demonstrated all of the key facets required in making a simple yet perfectly addictive title, while utilizing a range of visual effects supported by the new format. Retro gaming was born again, giving life to a range of old titles and inspiring a whole list of developers to sell older titles to a new generation of gamers. Geometry Wars 2 is such an important XBLA title, it was deemed big enough to warrant a special mention by Microsoft at this year's E3 Expo, a long way from its origins as an optional arcade title hidden within Project Gotham Racing 2.

Bizarre Creations has since been bought by Activision, and this is the first iteration of the series under their new owners. For those that have never had the chance to sample its predecessor, Geometry Wars 2 follows the same basic play mechanic, 1 stick to move, 1 stick to shoot. The new introduction being that destroyed enemies now drop little green blobs which increase your multiplier, and, in making this version more accessible, players now don't loose their multiplier when they loose a life.

So if it moves, shoot it, if it's still moving, collect it.

From the moment this title boots up it oozes polish, with a style totally in keeping with the new neon look. Enter the single player option and we see the six new game modes: Deadline, which involves destroying as many enemies as possible within the time limit, King, in which the player can only shoot within three ever-moving circles - the players are safe in the circle but of course moving unarmed is another matter entirely. Evolved is the standard mode but with new enemies - it's an even greater challenge and will test the very best players. Pacifism, as the name would suggest, is a mode where the player has no weapons, instead they need to dodge enemies and fly through explosive gates - though failure to fly through the dead centre of the gate will see the player destroyed. There's a mode called Waves, as seen in PGR4, and finally Sequence, a set of 20 rooms which must be survived, which will feel familiar to fans of Mutant Storm.

So the package is far more complete and this menu is also more inclusive with your friends, each mode option containing a mini scoreboard fixed to your friends list. This heightens the competition and the constant urge to better your local opponents. In-game, the high score is related to the next score on your friends list, giving achievable targets - and this is supported by a range of creative achievements.

The gameplay is simple and functional with the standard two stick system, but the game isn't perfect. The multiplayer is local only, with no online mode present, and this is a major blow to the expectations from the E3 demonstration. It could be argued that the sheer amount of activity on-screen would have slowed the online process down, but there is no doubt fans would have forgone the additional effects to enable some form of multiplayer action.

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