Gears of War? Whatever. Halo 3? Don’t make me laugh. Call of Duty 4? Almost. Everyone knows the best part about Xbox 360 is Live Arcade. Whether it’s getting smashed by your significant other at Puzzle Fighter Turbo or reminding yourself how happy you are that you don’t live in the time when making the second level of any game nearly impossible was the secret to “longevity”, it’s a huge draw and success story.
The first Geometry Wars on Xbox Live Arcade was joyously simple. One stick controls movement, the other controls fire direction. You zoom around an enclosed space shooting a stack of geometric shapes – each of which behaves differently dependant on type. The longer you play, the more frenetic the action. The screen fills with eye candy and effects and shootable objects and the beat goes on.
Retro Evolved 2 gives you new modes, multiplayer, and better visual effects. And it’s every bit as kick ass. But you need to be prepared for this sucker to get the most out of it.
Here’s my three step plan to what you’ll need to play Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2:
1. Considerable free time
2. A healthy amount of throat lozenges
3. Something very punchable close by (preferably an inanimate object)
You will appreciate the requirement for (1) quite often. My first insight in how important (1) was occurred last weekend when I received a message from young Joaby. The contents I wont relate, but suffice it to say it was all in capitals and quite obscene. I didn’t realise at the time, but he was celebrating beating one of my scores. Okay, all my scores.
You don’t just get the standard “Evolved” mode here. There’s Deadline (unlimited lives, get as high a score as possible in three minutes). There’s Waves (avoid/conquer increasingly large rows of ships sweeping at you). Pacifism, where you roll through gates to kill enemies, King, where you can only shoot when you’re inside a small selection of invulnerability bubbles that slowly shrink when you touch them, and the fiendishly cool Sequence, where you get 20 levels of set pieces to tackle. It’s exactly the same action every time, shame your skills aren’t as predictable huh?
Fave modes are purely subjective territory in this game as virtually all of them are winners. For mine there’s three standouts: Deadline is a “no excuses” measure of skill, King rewards tactical players, and Sequence seems as close to a puzzle game as you’ll get here. Probably the only dud from my end is Waves: frantic, but a bit basic.
It’s less than 30 mins work to uncover them all, but you’ll be spending a lot longer on each individually. And this is where (2) A healthy amount of throat lozenges comes into play as you scream yourself hoarse at the injustice of the BLEEPING IDIOTIC BLEEPING BLEEP green spaceship that just looped back and smashed into you. Or the two spiralling sub-ships that emerge from the explosion of their larger purple parent ship. Or the fact that you didn’t trigger that smartbomb because you wanted to collect a couple more stray “geoms” – the multiplier boosting pods each kill leaves behind. Geoms are gold in this game – you’ll spend a lot of time dying making a mad dash trying to scoop them up in order to keep pumping that multiplier ever onward.
Finally, (3) Something very punchable comes in handy when you fire up the game and see the mode selection screen. It helpfully shows all your friends scores on it as well. In case you didn’t notice that, in the top right hand corner of the screen during play the friend with the next highest score to beat is displayed – a constant reminder of how terrible you are if nothing else. Lucky you remembered to take your girlfriend’s stuffed plush doll and have it ready to drive your fist into at full force, otherwise someone could get hurt around here.
It also comes in handy when you drag the chain in the four (!!) player co-op mode. It’s an optometrist’s dream – there’s so much going on that the human eyeball just wasn’t meant to cope with it.
And while the “gather round the TV” multiplayer formula may annoy folks wanting to play their friends in Finland, the reality is the split-second decision making you’re required to engage in in RE2 is highly internet unfriendly. You’re caroming off barriers, your bullets are often hitting in the last possible moment before impact – any delay is disastrous. So grab your mates and get together if you want to have a blast, essentially, as it’s not gonna happen online.
RE2 is better than the first, no surprise there. You expect this. There’s a load of play modes to stop you doing the same old thing over and over again, including kickass, not internet play. The funny thing is most of us will settle for obsessively playing one mode anyway, and once again busting for just one...more...go. Not bad for a ten buck investment.