In the older days when life was simpler, a pro level race car driver could take a pit stop and play an arcade game that came with the garage. Who needs expensive race cars, globe trotting, and whatever the heck Kudos points are, when you have a great twin-stick shooter? The follow up to Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved sure doesn’t!
Appropriately titled ‘Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2’, the game adds 5 new modes along with the familiar ‘Evolved’. The first mode that’s available to you is ‘Deadline’. It feels like the next step beyond ‘Evolved’ in regards to how it plays. You’re given unlimited lives, a three minute time limit, and 3 bombs to begin with. Once your score becomes high enough, you unlock the next mode ‘King’. This mode only allows you to shoot out at the enemies from the insides of 3 glowing rings. The rings shrink in size as your inside, which forces you to escape to the next ring. I’m finding it to be one of the most challenging modes featured. The next mode unlocked is classic ‘Evolved’, which hasn’t changed all that much since the original Retro Evolved, aside from the new multiplier system (more on that in a moment). ‘Pacifism’ is unlocked next, which is kind of the odd one out, as there is no shooting to be done. Instead you lure your foes around gates that act as a mini-bomb when you fly through them. The catch is that you only have one life, and the ends of the gate instantly kill you should you crash into them. If you were a fan of Project Gotham Racing 4, you might have already tried the next mode ‘Waves’. Orange ships will attempt to force you off the screen, and you have to shoot gaps through them to survive. It’s much harder than it sounds. The final, and perhaps one of the most interesting is ‘Sequence’. It feels a bit similar to Geometry Wars Galaxies in the fact that you’re given 20 levels to fight through, You only have 3 lives, and even some of the early levels can be brutal. I have yet to make it through all 20. There’s enough content in the 6 modes to make this game well worth your 800 Microsoft Points.
One of the first things you’ll notice when you first begin Retro Evolved 2 is that the default high score has been replaced with the gamertag of the next person above you on your friends list leaderboard. This adds a nice level of competition between you and your friends, that may have you staying up far too late attempting to dethrone just one more score. Shortly after this you’ll probably notice you’re lacking any weapon upgrades. In it’s place your bullets are becoming more powerful thanks to the new multiplier system. In early Geometry War’s games you would lose any multiplier you earned if you died. This time around, each enemy leaves behind a few Geom’s which you scoop up to raise your multiplier. While visually your weapon isn’t changing, your bullets are much more powerful as you collect more Geom’s. The best part about it is that if you die, you don’t lose your multiplier. This can lead to insanely high scores.
All in all, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 is a feature packed, worthy successor to the first Retro Evolved. The competitive nature of the leaderboards will keep you coming back, if not just to check the status of your score. I look forward to seeing what comes next in the Geometry Wars franchise, but in the mean time I need to reclaim my place in the Deadline leaderboard.