Game: Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2
Platform: XBox Live Arcade
Bizarre Creations went to their Geometry Wars well one more time to bring us Retro Evolved 2. This is actually the third game in their series, but the second to appear on XBox Live Arcade. If you had a couple of minutes to kill while waiting for your significant other to get ready, playing a round or two of the first installment was a good way to kill those ten minutes. This new iteration makes some changes to the basic formula of Retro Evolved, adding 5 new game modes, transforming the game from a short-term distraction to a full-fledged addictive time-sucker.
To be honest, I enjoyed playing the original Geometry Wars in small doses. I was perfectly happy to play it for a few minutes while I was waiting for another demo to download, but I was definitely not one of the hardcore masters of the game. Truth be told, I spent more of my time dead than I did actually playing. Retro Evolved 2 is another beast entirely. I feel as if this game might be my one true calling. The game starts you off with one mode (Deadline – 3 minutes, infinite lives) unlocked. Garnering an unspecified amount of points will unlock the next mode. It’s never quite stated the amount of points you need to progress. Instead, all you see is a percentage of how close you are to unlocking the next game mode. If you do great the first time through, you might just get 100%. Contrarily, you could have several pretty average runs before unlocking the next mode. Probably the best thing for new players is the way Bizarre is promoting practice. Or addiction. However you want to see it. By the time those unfamiliar with the two-stick shooter unlock all the game modes, they’ll practically be seasoned pros.
While I spent most of my first hour with the game trying to top my score in the Deadline mode, I did manage to play through the rest of the game to see just what the other five modes had in store for me. Evolved is a game mode based around the rules of the first game (3 lives, 3 bombs). But you didn’t download this to play the first game again, you wanted to see what else Bizarre could do. My personal favorite is King, a new take on “king of the hill” where you move from shooting zone to shooting zone while picking up Geoms (multipliers) on the way. Pacifism mode takes all your weapons away, and requires you to pass through exploding gates to eliminate enemies. Waves sends row after row of enemies at you as you try to shoot your way out before the waves can overwhelm you. While all of these definitely put your dexterity to the test, no challenge can match playing with three other friends. Despite the lack of an online versus or co-op, you’ll have a hectic and fun time playing locally with three other people. The game is beautifully designed, but its pace and bright colors can overwhelm you when dealing with a screen full of Pythagorean pugilists.
There a ton of new additions in this sequel making it more than worth the 800 MS Points, but somehow the game still felt like an add-on, and not a new game. Graphically, it’s a huge upgrade over the first installment, and the soundtrack and effects are much nicer this time around as well. Still, Retro Evolved 2 left me wanting more. Maybe I just need to beat a few more high scores. If you haven’t already tested the geometric waters, this installment is well worth the time you’ll put into it. While you and I may never make the top 10 scores, you can bet I’ll be trying. Will you?