One of the greatest Xbox Live Arcade titles to date
At the end of 2003, “Project Gotham Racing 2” by Bizarre Creations was released for the Xbox. While browsing their garage, the players could walk up to an old-school arcade machine and play a 2D dual-stick shooter entitled "Geometry Wars". To celebrate “Project Gotham Racing 3”, Bizarre Creations released “Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved” on the Xbox 360’s Xbox Live Arcade platform. This “Evolved” version proved to be popular, and “Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2” was released at the end of July in 2008.
The premise of “Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2” is simple and has remained much the same throughout the series. You control a ship using the left stick and shoot at waves of enemies using the right stick in a large square. Some new features are included, like the “geoms” dropped by enemies that work as multipliers. You have a series of lives and screen-clearing bombs, which are refilled when the player hits a specific score. There are no varieties in the firing method this time, however, but this works well.
The latest game also introduces a series of new modes and features, making it by far the biggest Geometry Wars yet. Fans of “Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved” are used to a single mode and some leaderboards, and although this proved to be enjoyable, the sequel expands on this to a huge degree. There are six singleplayer modes, each unique and with its own leaderboard, and twelve unique enemies with their own twists. The trial for the game offers the “Deadline Mode”, where the player has to generate as many points as possible until the clock runs out. Each mode is introduced gradually by locking them until the previous mode has been played enough times, which is a good way to force the player to be accustomed to the modes, which is by no means a bad thing. There is also local multiplayer, including one mode where one player moves the ship as the other shoots, but I am yet to try this as there is no option for online play.
As the name implies, the graphical style of the game is influenced by geometry. Your ship, each enemy and the bullets are all two-dimensional geometry. It might sound basic, but the graphics are actually very pretty, making heavy use of bright colors, explosions and physical bends. Everything is very crisp and nice, making the game very appealing to the eye, even when the amount of enemies gets very high.
The music is also significantly improved, providing some excellent techno and electronic beats that adds to the intensiveness.
Leaderboards played a part in the previous Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved, but it plays a far larger part in the sequel. In most of the modes, a ticker on the HUD displays the next superior Friend on the mode’s leaderboard. This is simply ingenious, and makes for a great amount of replay value as you try again and again to beat your friends. The Friend’s Leaderboard showed under My Games ranks your friends by the totals of their scores.
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 manages to improve on every aspect. I have played every Geometry Wars available on the Xbox and Xbox 360, but the enjoyment I got out of them doesn’t even come close to that of Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2. The thrill of surviving an onslaught of enemies, the disappointment when that arrow hits you where you least expect it and the pure joy of beating your friends all contribute to making this game one of the greatest Xbox Live Arcade titles yet.