While the twin-stick shooter genre obviously owes a massive debt to the ’80s classics Robotron and Smash TV, the genre’s massive resurgence in the last decade or so is thanks to the Geometry Wars titles.
The series started as a mini-game in the Project Gotham Racing 2 but hit mainstream popularity with Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved on Xbox Live Arcade. It was a decent enough game but quite repetitive, a little too difficult for many and it had one of the most irritating soundtracks ever.
The sequel, Geometry Wars 2, however improved on it massively with a host of extra modes that made it a true ten out of ten masterpiece. It remains one of the best arcade experiences of all time and is certainly the best game in the genre. So, it’s safe to say that I’m expecting A LOT from Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions.
Dimensions stays close to the formula. It’s a twin-stick shooter with flashy neon visuals, a heap of enemies to dodge and leaderboards to compete on. The game includes all the modes from Geometry Wars 2 except for Sequence Mode (twenty or so stages with fixed enemy layouts).
Instead, Sequence Mode is replaced by a fully-fledged Adventure Mode which is a set of levels based around the various game modes with various objectives that unlock star ratings which in turn unlock later stages and also bonus power-ups. They also throw in some boss battles too.
Adventure Mode adds a lot of interesting elements. Not only does it mix up the gameplay quite a lot but it also changes the arenas you battle in, often turning them into rounded shapes that you fly around Super Stardust style.
The variation is great but the best thing is using power-ups to revisit levels to earn more stars. It is powerfully addictive stuff and gives you plenty of reason to keep coming back.
The visuals however can occasionally get a bit much. Warping the play areas and using various visual effects on the backdrops is all well and good but it doesn’t exactly aid the playability. This is fundamentally a problem as the game doesn’t feel any flashier than Geometry Wars 2 but those graphics do very slightly get in the way at times.
Deadline: the standard Geometry Wars experience set against a tight time limit. Perfect for a quick go. Not so easy to stop playing.
King: an odd mode where you can only shoot within set areas. Has always struck me as a perfect mechanic for a zombie game. Decent stuff.
Retro Evolved: standard Geometry Wars again but this time with a lives limit.
Pacifism: digital crack injected directly into your face. Use boobytrapped gates as your only weapon against constant waves of enemies. I lost hours to this last night.
Waves: a tricky mode where lines of enemies swoop across the screen at you. Brilliant but my least favourite mode.
All the modes are enjoyable and it is up to you to find your favourite. Pacifism is my favourite and was on Geometry Wars 2. It’s a little harder this time around, and that makes it a tiny bit less enjoyable but god damn it it’s fantastic.
The short version of all this is that this is still Geometry Wars and it is still fantastic. The visuals get in the way slightly and while it is more impressive visually, for me gameplay in king and anything that gets in the way of that is a mistake but it’s never so bad that it ruins the game but it does take the shine off a little.
Geometry Wars 2 was practically a perfect game. The combination of unnecessary visual changes and familiarity takes the shine off of this one a little but right now I’m so addicted to the whole thing that I’m probably going to lose everything I have. So that’s something.