Geometry Wars started its life as a novelty inside a racing game. It then became one of the first downloadable titles for Xbox Live Arcade, and in that same regard, one of the first reasons to own that machine. Weird to say about a $5 downloadable title, but anyone who played it can attest to its glory. Since then Activision has been chasing the success of this simple twin-stick shooter with sequels and games across every platform imaginable, and they have finally come close with Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions.
Dimensions tries to bring something for everyone. The classic Geometry Wars modes are here, including pretty much the entirety of Retro Evolved 2, but it also expands on the ideas and adds some meat to the package. The new Adventure Mode consists of 50 levels mixed with all the classic modes, as well as some new ones. Each stage has a shape of its own, breaking from the standard square battlefield.
Platforms: XB1, PS4, PS3, 360, PC
Price I’d Pay: $14.99
Multiplayer: Offline co-op and competitive, online competitive
Probably the biggest additions to this mode though are ship loadouts and upgrades. Players can now add helper pieces to their ship that do things such as fire extra shots, or simply collect geoms (which are used as a score multiplier). In addition to the screen-clearing smart bomb, players now also earn a second special attack attached to the other trigger. This also alters the game play in a way that makes sense for the new levels. Again, these are bold changes to the simple formula, but ones that don’t detract too much from the core mechanic that makes the series so addictive.
Adventure mode is packed full of levels and challenges, but it also borders on punishing at times. I am not great at Geometry Wars, but I was dying consistently by the first boss battle. Each level is based on a three star scoring system, of which I was always getting the lowest possible, when I managed to attain that, but this game is brutal. It feels almost skewed in a way that requires grinding for the ship upgrades. Also, unlocking new drones requires beating boss battles, so I was constantly replaying levels, not because I wanted a higher score, but because I needed the upgrades to progress. At times it feels counter-intuitive to the simplistic nature of the original.
Thankfully, the core game play is still intact. Dimensions plays like a dream, with every death resulting in me being more angry at myself than the game. The split-second decision making the game requires will definitely have players hitting that quick restart option often.
Multiplayer also exists, both online and offline. The offline portion offers its own co-op campaign, which is really well done. The online only offers competitive play, and pits two teams against each other in a battle of skills. Of course, neither mode matches the leaderboard chasing of the original, and now that each level has its own score keeping, things become heated among friends, that is if anyone on my list was actually playing it.
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions delivers a lot of what made the original so addictive, while introducing some new modes that are sure to ruffle some feathers. Still, if the series is to continue, it needs to evolve into something more than the original. Remember that version still exists, both on the 360, and in some forms in Classic mode in Dimensions. While it might not light the world on fire the way Retro Evolved and its sequel did, Dimensions is a the next evolution of the series, and a really fun way to waste time on the new consoles.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.