Geometry Wars 2 is a definite, albeit small improvement
Geometry Wars is a perfect example of a game with the simplest of concepts, that's executed well and ridiculously fun for it. In this dual-stick shooter, you take control of a spaceship and attempt to keep the hostile geometrical shapes off you. Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved brought the nostalgic goodness into the current generation with colourful graphics. Now, its single mode has been expanded into six in the sequel. Whether or not this new edition is worth the points to you depends entirely on how much the thought of other, more creative takes on shooting shapes with a pea-shooter appeals to you.
Pacifism takes away your weapons entirely, and has you flying through small dumbbell-shaped gates that explode when you go through them, taking out any shapes on your tail. Surviving for as long as possible is the goal.
Waves is something entirely different than the rest of the game, as it sends lines of hostile ships at you periodically from all sides, and you have to punch holes in them to survive. It can get really hectic, because you'll soon have too little time to completely take out a wave, and the remaining shapes will keep flying about. You'll soon be harassed from all possible angles, and it can really get your heart rate up. Though, then again, that last part has always been a trademark of the Geometry Wars franchise, with its crazily intense action.
Sequence is, like its name would lead you to expect, a set series of challenges in the form of lots and lots of enemies coming at you in set patterns per level. There are 20 stages, and if you get to the end, you can rightfully call yourself a skilled player.
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 feels quite similar to its predecessor. The major differences are that your gun cannot upgrade--so the completely awesome triple or quadruple gun can't be gained in singeplayer--, some new enemies, and Geoms. That's the new score multiplyer system. Whereas the previous game simply upped your multiplyer as you killed enemies, they drop Geoms this time around. These yellow, fluorescent beans need to be collected by flying over them, and a single one adds the same value to your multiplyer. It makes for a rather different feel, because now, you need to fly towards fallen foes' drops to get a better score, while the previous allowed you to play it a bit more safely. It also makes the score seems bigger. One million is a relatively low score here.
There's a multiplayer mode in here as well, but really, it's only local and not all that enticing. The leaderboards, which constantly stare you in the face as you're going around the menus provide plenty of reminders that there are people out there who are better than you. You always want to climb that single spot higher, and it keeps you coming back time and time again.
The game still looks and sounds great. You might wonder how you can say that about game that's simply about a two-dimensional ship and geometrical shapes, but it looks fantastic. It all looks so vibrant and alive, and the techno music that accompanies it fits the style perfectly. The sound fades in and out at exactly the right times as well, which makes the gameplay flow all the better in your head.
Whether or not I would recommend you to buy Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 depends on two things: if you don't have the first game already, buy its successor right now. It's that good. If you do have the first Geometry Wars, then you should reflect on whether you need new modes to play. Personally, I think the “Evolved” mode is all Geometry Wars really needs, and all the rest is just a fine bonus. If you feel simply surviving is all you would ever do in this game, then the first game will serve you just fine. That said, there's no denying Geometry Wars 2 is a fantastic game, with a great execution, and you should enjoy at least one of the two games on XBLA. If you haven't enjoyed the last game, then your purchase of this game is perfectly justified. So make your choice, and enjoy this awesome dual-stick shooter.