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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.
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:

Thanks, K4rn4ge!
Jeff Gerstmann on Google+