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Q&A: A Variety of Vector-Based K4rn4ge

We take a break from trying to earn the Smile achievement and get some of our Geometry Wars 2 questions answered by the best GW player we've ever encountered, Scott "K4rn4ge" Smith.

Scott "K4rn4ge" Smith, relaxing at home
With Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 taking up a lot of free time around the office these days, I decided to hit up a dude on my Xbox Live friends list, a dude that you've probably heard of if you've followed the Geometry Wars leaderboards for any length of time, Scott "K4rn4ge" Smith. I wanted to see what he thought about Bizarre Creations' new game, and wondered if he had any tips that would put me ahead of the rest of the office once and for all.

For starters, what did your highest score on the original Geometry Wars end up being, and how many hours do you think you've spent playing the first game?

In Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 1, I held the world record numerous times but my highest score was 360,360,600. The game reaches a maximum difficulty at around 5 million and if you master the game, you can pretty much keep going. I purposely stopped on that score when it was #1 at the time. Of course, I had to play that one round throughout multiple sessions over several days since there was no save feature. When it comes to hours played total, the only thing I could say is that I have easily put more hours into Geometry Wars Evolved than Halo 3, Gears of War, and Oblivion combined! 

What are your initial impressions of the new game? Did they break anything by reworking the way scores and multipliers are handled?

I was a bit skeptical of Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2 because sometimes sequels stray too far from the original. Luckily, this is not the case with Geometry Wars 2. It still plays a lot like the previous one in terms of controls but scoring and various other features were tweaked. In fact, the new scoring seems much better already. Not only is it simply fun to collect hundreds of sparkly geoms from blasted enemies to make your multiplier really high but it makes for more interesting gameplay. Also, since you only get a new life and bomb at 10 times the previous amount, you won't be getting too many later in the game, so your multiplier is very important. Now, games are more a test of skill rather endurance. Anyway, I think they took what was great about the first game and added more variety, co-op, remixed tunes, and even snazzier graphics to make a great package.

How do you feel about the difficulty of the new game? Does it feel like it's harder than the previous game?

I have noticed that in the sequel, the game will get harder or easier depending on how you are doing. For instance, if I died quickly in the beginning of the game, a few low-level enemies would spawn. On the other hand, after surviving for a long time on one life, I noticed loads more enemies at about the same point in the game. I think that this is a great feature because it will welcome players of all different skill levels. Still, the new game is very intense if you are doing well and since you can't rack up lives and bombs late in the game, it is harder, but in a good and challenging way.

x40 just ain't gonna cut it.
Which of the game's modes is your favorite? What do you like about it?

That's a tough question because they are all fun in their own way! However, so far I have been really enjoying Pacifism mode. It is a very simple idea yet there is a good deal of strategy and skill involved--easy to learn, hard to master. I love it because it takes the Pacifism achievement from the first game and transforms it into its own mode. Dodge hordes of blue diamonds while going through the gates to kill them since you can't shoot at all. Being greedy and picking up as many geoms as you can is risky when weaving through everything, but it sure is satisfying. With one life and no bombs, I find this as one of the best challenges the game has to offer.

Is there anything about the game that left you disappointed?

Of course everyone's main gripe with the game is most likely the fact that there is no online multiplayer. However, I have spoke with Ben Ward from Bizarre Creations and he explained to me that there would be alot more going on internally in the game than even a typical first-person shooter. Also, the smallest bit of lag in Geometry Wars would be the difference between life and death. I'll get over it--besides, the local multiplayer is pretty fun. The only other small problem I have with the game so far is that the new “repulsar” enemies (the red magnet-like enemies from the first game) now seem harder to kill. The fact is that the blue part where they are vulnerable is very small and hard to see--especially with loads of enemies on screen. 

Where do you think the Geometry Wars series should go from here?

The Geometry Wars series should continue the route it was taking with Geometry Wars Galaxies on the Nintendo Wii. That game also contained the core gameplay but just with different levels and new enemies. However, the Xbox controller felt more natural. I would actually like the next game to be similar to Galaxies but on the Xbox 360. In my opinion, Galaxies didn't receive the attention it deserved. The next game should be some kind of combination of Galaxies and Retro Evolved 2, and if the technology improves enough by then, I wouldn't mind some online multiplayer :)

And finally, what tips do you have for people out there who are struggling to stay alive long enough to earn high scores?

In Retro Evolved 2, many of the scoring strategies are the same as the previous game yet there are also several ways to get bonus points. First, I will go into detail about the older strategies that still seem to work in most of the new modes. Try to go around the board in a circular motion and don't stop or enemies will catch up to you. Instead of firing straight in just one direction, move the joystick back and forth in a wavy motion so you can reach more enemies at once. One of the most important new scoring strategies is to collect as many geoms as possible since each geom increases your multiplier by one. Also, now black holes explode any enemies nearby and give you a special 5x bonus. The same bonus is applied to passing through the gates or killing enemies by bouncing bullets off gates. Instead of wasting a bomb and not getting any points, try to use these to your advantage. However, if you are trapped and must use a bomb, quickly scatter around collecting as many geoms as you can because bombed enemies still drop them. Also, check out my strategy videos for Geometry Wars 1 and will most likely be putting up videos of Geo Wars 2 soon at the following website: http://www.youtube.com/user/K4rn4ge

Thanks, K4rn4ge!
Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
35 Comments
Posted by Jeff
Scott "K4rn4ge" Smith, relaxing at home
With Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 taking up a lot of free time around the office these days, I decided to hit up a dude on my Xbox Live friends list, a dude that you've probably heard of if you've followed the Geometry Wars leaderboards for any length of time, Scott "K4rn4ge" Smith. I wanted to see what he thought about Bizarre Creations' new game, and wondered if he had any tips that would put me ahead of the rest of the office once and for all.

For starters, what did your highest score on the original Geometry Wars end up being, and how many hours do you think you've spent playing the first game?

In Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 1, I held the world record numerous times but my highest score was 360,360,600. The game reaches a maximum difficulty at around 5 million and if you master the game, you can pretty much keep going. I purposely stopped on that score when it was #1 at the time. Of course, I had to play that one round throughout multiple sessions over several days since there was no save feature. When it comes to hours played total, the only thing I could say is that I have easily put more hours into Geometry Wars Evolved than Halo 3, Gears of War, and Oblivion combined! 

What are your initial impressions of the new game? Did they break anything by reworking the way scores and multipliers are handled?

I was a bit skeptical of Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2 because sometimes sequels stray too far from the original. Luckily, this is not the case with Geometry Wars 2. It still plays a lot like the previous one in terms of controls but scoring and various other features were tweaked. In fact, the new scoring seems much better already. Not only is it simply fun to collect hundreds of sparkly geoms from blasted enemies to make your multiplier really high but it makes for more interesting gameplay. Also, since you only get a new life and bomb at 10 times the previous amount, you won't be getting too many later in the game, so your multiplier is very important. Now, games are more a test of skill rather endurance. Anyway, I think they took what was great about the first game and added more variety, co-op, remixed tunes, and even snazzier graphics to make a great package.

How do you feel about the difficulty of the new game? Does it feel like it's harder than the previous game?

I have noticed that in the sequel, the game will get harder or easier depending on how you are doing. For instance, if I died quickly in the beginning of the game, a few low-level enemies would spawn. On the other hand, after surviving for a long time on one life, I noticed loads more enemies at about the same point in the game. I think that this is a great feature because it will welcome players of all different skill levels. Still, the new game is very intense if you are doing well and since you can't rack up lives and bombs late in the game, it is harder, but in a good and challenging way.

x40 just ain't gonna cut it.
Which of the game's modes is your favorite? What do you like about it?

That's a tough question because they are all fun in their own way! However, so far I have been really enjoying Pacifism mode. It is a very simple idea yet there is a good deal of strategy and skill involved--easy to learn, hard to master. I love it because it takes the Pacifism achievement from the first game and transforms it into its own mode. Dodge hordes of blue diamonds while going through the gates to kill them since you can't shoot at all. Being greedy and picking up as many geoms as you can is risky when weaving through everything, but it sure is satisfying. With one life and no bombs, I find this as one of the best challenges the game has to offer.

Is there anything about the game that left you disappointed?

Of course everyone's main gripe with the game is most likely the fact that there is no online multiplayer. However, I have spoke with Ben Ward from Bizarre Creations and he explained to me that there would be alot more going on internally in the game than even a typical first-person shooter. Also, the smallest bit of lag in Geometry Wars would be the difference between life and death. I'll get over it--besides, the local multiplayer is pretty fun. The only other small problem I have with the game so far is that the new “repulsar” enemies (the red magnet-like enemies from the first game) now seem harder to kill. The fact is that the blue part where they are vulnerable is very small and hard to see--especially with loads of enemies on screen. 

Where do you think the Geometry Wars series should go from here?

The Geometry Wars series should continue the route it was taking with Geometry Wars Galaxies on the Nintendo Wii. That game also contained the core gameplay but just with different levels and new enemies. However, the Xbox controller felt more natural. I would actually like the next game to be similar to Galaxies but on the Xbox 360. In my opinion, Galaxies didn't receive the attention it deserved. The next game should be some kind of combination of Galaxies and Retro Evolved 2, and if the technology improves enough by then, I wouldn't mind some online multiplayer :)

And finally, what tips do you have for people out there who are struggling to stay alive long enough to earn high scores?

In Retro Evolved 2, many of the scoring strategies are the same as the previous game yet there are also several ways to get bonus points. First, I will go into detail about the older strategies that still seem to work in most of the new modes. Try to go around the board in a circular motion and don't stop or enemies will catch up to you. Instead of firing straight in just one direction, move the joystick back and forth in a wavy motion so you can reach more enemies at once. One of the most important new scoring strategies is to collect as many geoms as possible since each geom increases your multiplier by one. Also, now black holes explode any enemies nearby and give you a special 5x bonus. The same bonus is applied to passing through the gates or killing enemies by bouncing bullets off gates. Instead of wasting a bomb and not getting any points, try to use these to your advantage. However, if you are trapped and must use a bomb, quickly scatter around collecting as many geoms as you can because bombed enemies still drop them. Also, check out my strategy videos for Geometry Wars 1 and will most likely be putting up videos of Geo Wars 2 soon at the following website: http://www.youtube.com/user/K4rn4ge

Thanks, K4rn4ge!
Staff
Posted by TrulyAlive

Still never played Geo Wars. Will have to try it out.

Posted by Railer

Great article Jeff. I really like how you bring in "regular" persons like this. I really appreciate opinions from people who have played Geometry Wars before, and at a high level.
I never actually played the first Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved , but i picked the second one that just hitted XBLA,  and it's seriously one of my favorite games this year. And no, I don't mean just arcade titles. I mean generally.

So yeah, thanks for the article, and to everyone else. Buy Geometry Wars 2. Trust me, you won't regret it.

Posted by Clean

I love geometry wars and this is pretty good,too

Posted by BigShot

mmm...Geometry Wars 2 looks tasty. Too bad the name reminds me of high school math.

Posted by piecat

Nice interview. I've seen that guy on leaderboards for the first and second game, and was always really impressed.

Posted by EleFlameMax

Huh.

Posted by RenegadeSaint

Great idea to interview people who play the games, rather than just those who make them.  I could see this becoming a very interesting series of articles.

Posted by Sweep

Its a good direction to take. Its probly a lot cheaper and easier than interviewing developers. Also it makes me want to get better so that one day I too will be interviewed as a.. gaming... celebrity?

Moderator
Posted by cann3dheat

Wondered when this was going to come out. Great idea guys, I'd love to see more of these in the future.

Posted by Dissolve

Geometry Wars RPG.

Posted by Gamer_152

Really good interview. Karnage sure knows his stuff.

Moderator
Posted by PLWolf

This game is a blast, but boy do I suck at it. :(

Posted by Paul

I suck to much at games for Geometry Wars. Watching dudes like the guy in your article and Brendan Sinclair play is about all I can handle. Still, the demo for GW 2 was way rad. 

Posted by FLStyle

Brilliant idea getting someone in who's put the time and effort into and has the skills to boot, great job!

Posted by DiGiTaL_SiN

Giantbomb exclusive interviews FTW!

Posted by Ejiku

I love this idea! Interview more gamers!

Posted by John

His GeoWars 1 score is crazy, I could only get to 2 million and that was with the help of the all mighty guiding me through the hordes of flashy neon lights.

Posted by logson

Exclusive, baby.

Posted by LordAndrew

K4rn4ge is no regular person. :)

Posted by Milkman

Giant Bomb's first exclusive interview. Sweet.

Posted by MisterWaingro

I approve of this interview.  More of this would be great.  Great job!

I bought Retro Evolved 1 as soon as I got my 360, and, like most early 360 adopters, it was more or less all I played for months.  My high score capped at around 1,400,000 if I recall correctly.  I know I could've gotten better at it, but after attaining the top score on my friends leaderboard, I was more or less content.... I should get back to that...

Still don't know if I'm going to buy 2 yet.  Looks good though.

Posted by Player1

Sweet. Thanks for the interview. Very helpful

Posted by Superfriend

This guy ROCKS!!! I´ve never mastered Geometry Wars, but this guy´s score has always been sort of motivation for me to keep going.

Posted by Frederik

Brilliant idea to pull this guy in for an interview! Very interesting article

Posted by benrolien

HA HA - even with your insider cronies giving you tips and haxor skills, you can't beat my leet scores Jeff WORSTman, HA HA  owning Giant Bomb in five out of six, and I'm gunning for Kings next.  You hear me Ryan WORSTis (eh) YOU HEAR ME!!!

Posted by Ryu

I don't think any tips will make me decent at that game...

Posted by Kowalski

Geometry Wars isn't that great. Definitely not worth that many hours of playing...

The interview though, great. These are people that should be interviewed.

Posted by Legend

Awesome.

Posted by HTTenrai

This was a really sweet idea for an article! Nice!

Posted by Labbo94

Solid interview. Interesting read.

Posted by Will

Good interview, good game aswell.

Posted by pplus0440

probably one of the best single player games ever. really. i played it all day yesterday and didnt even come close to getting bored. buy it.

Posted by HykCraft
Posted by Jordan23

This kid has mastered the Geometry Wars formula.