Review by kennykaos317

Reviewed: 09/05/08

Improves everything that was great about the original

Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved set the standard for what casual gaming could be on the Xbox 360. Two years later, its sequel has set a new standard for casual gaming. Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 improves everything that was great about the original, creating a sequel that fans and newcomers alike can enjoy.

The intuitive controls have not changed: you still move your ship with the left stick and shoot in any direction with the right. Some of the other core mechanics, however, have changed. In the original, your multiplier grew as you destroyed enemies, but then reset at your death. That mechanic has been turned on its head in the sequel. Now, each enemy you destroy drops a tiny green geom; picking up these objects increases your multiplier, which continues to grow even after your death (at least in the few modes where you have more than one life). It’s not unusual to push your multiplier into the hundreds. This new mechanic also alters the gameplay. It’s no longer such a good idea to hog the center of the screen, only moving when absolutely necessary. Now, you are encouraged to fly all over the screen, capturing as many geoms as possible. This adds an excitement I found lacking in the first game. One feature I missed was the upgraded weapons, but the starting weapon is not exactly overpowering, but not that weak either.

In addition, new enemies have been introduced. New to the sequel are orange cones that race in a straight line horizontally and vertically across the screen, and a gate that deflects shots and explodes when you pass through it. The cones are mainly annoying, but the gates add a fun new mechanic to the game. These join all the enemies from the first game.

These additions are put to use in several new game types. Deadline is the first mode and is automatically unlocked, and the remaining games are unlocked by playing for a certain amount of time in the previous game. Deadline is essentially the same game as the first Geometry Wars, except it uses the new geom-collecting mechanic and new enemies, and there is a 3-minute time limit and unlimited lives. King mode places three circles around the arena; you are safe inside them, you can only fire from inside them, and they close quickly once you enter them. Evolved Mode is a replication of the original game and is surprisingly the third mode you will unlock. Pacifist is inspired by the Pacifist achievement from Retro Evolved: you cannot fire at all, and must guide blue diamonds through gates that explode in your wake. Waves mode spawns a wall of orange cones that fly in horizontal and vertical formation. Finally, Sequence presents waves of enemies that you must defeat. There are 20 waves in total, and each wave is exactly the same every time. Memorization is necessary to advance to the end, a feat only the most skilled players will achieve.

These different modes add a lot of replayability to the game. Each mode plays differently enough to maintain a wide variety for the player. Pacifist is probably the best of these new games, with its counter-intuitive notion of not firing. It can become quite addictive to round up a horde of blue diamonds and then blast them all when you glide through a series of gates. Waves is the weakest, facing the same formations of enemies over and over. Still, all of these games have something to offer any player.

And when you become bored with these games, you can turn to multiplayer. Two to four players can play versus or co-op versions of all the different modes, team-based games, or even co-pilot, where one player flies and the other fires. The game screen can become a blur of colors and shapes with all the action. Disappointingly, these games cannot be played over Xbox Live. Still, if you get together with friends to play, these modes will add a lot of life to the game.

Technically, the game looks and sounds much like the first game. The game looks sharp in high-def. All enemies are different shapes, drawn with colorful vector graphics. Explosions warp and fill the screen. Live long enough, and enemies will fill the screen as well. The soundtrack of driving techno beats fits the action well. My only complaint is that it is easy to lose your ship amid the chaos.

Fans of the previous game will find a lot to like in this sequel, which is essentially more of the first game. The additional modes are a welcome change to the single mode of the original. With the wide variety of games to be found, even non-fans will find something they like here. Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 is a more than worthy sequel.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

Product Release: Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 (US, 07/30/08)

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