...because that aside, it's kinda perfect. The (proper) sequel to 360 launch masterpiece Geo Wars is finally here, and it's a long-awaited follow-up that I'm pleased to say does not
Like its predecessor, it's another Live Arcade game of course - so don't be expecting something with the content of say, Geometry Wars Galaxies (reviewed in a Wii round-up here
expect far more for your 800 space bucks than what was found in the original game though, as GW2 straddles a pleasing line somewhere in-between. Rather than make do with one, albeit near perfect masterpiece of a game mode like last time, it offers up six individual such modes now you see, all of which I'd say more than earn their place.
Let's Have a Looksy
|The return of the king - Geo Wars is back! Speaking of which, the new "King" mode - pictured above - is sure to prove a fave|
You unlock said modes one by one as you play, with each - for the most part - ramping up in difficulty sequentially. Kicking things off is "Deadline", what can only be described as the token Championship Edition
mode. It rids you of the annoyance of lives, and essentially just chucks you into an arena for three minutes to score as much as possible. Standard twin-stick pew-pew Geo Wars gameplay then - as you roam the rectangular world and mow through luminous shapes - but the new quick-fire "in 'n' out" nature most definitely suits those of us who had to previously put upwards of 45 minutes into the original to even come close to bettering our high scores. This, I approve of.
"King" is next, and proves a riotous departure to just about anything seen before in this series. You spawn in a protective, stationary bubble, from which no enemies can enter. Safe from harm, you're free to blast the frakkers away in all directions, laughing like a TF2 Heavy as you do. The downside being, this bubble'll start to decay almost instantly, and any time you're outside its protective condom-like shell, you can't actually shoot. "King" therefore plays somewhat like you're flying around on hot coals, as you charge helplessly from bubble to bubble before the onslaught can continue, defenseless the entire time. You get one life, no bombs, and thus games don't last an age, but it's fun, different, and has a fantastically bastard-ized achievement tied to it in which you must dash between 30 such bubbles without firing a shot. Bloody hell.
|GW2's "Evolved" mode is a more brutal, arse-kicking take on the original. It's far more punishing now, with games - once again - hella fast this time, and part of me misses the old marathons|
"Evolved" is more akin to the bog standard Geometry Wars action of the last game. You're given three lives, three bombs, and no time limit, to cause as much ruckus as poss before exponentially increasing enemy spawns wipe your arse out. That said, there are some noticeable differences this time around worth mentioning. Your multiplier for instance, is now tied directly to the collecting of little green "Geoms" from fallen enemies. They'll see you ramping your multiplier up into the hundreds (and indeed thousands) pretty darn quickly, with a suitably ludicrous score to match. Particularly as - oddly enough - you don't lose this multiplier each time you die now. I question this decision, as it sorta feels like cheat codes have been engaged, but it at least removes a huge dollop o' frustration found previously. Evolved is noticeably "easier" in terms of racking up high scores then, with me netting an easy 10mil on my first go, but it's over so damn quick now, vets might miss the more lethargic pace of the original.
Based off the infamous Geo Wars achievement of the same name, "Pacifism" is a sweet little quick-fire game type that rids you of guns and extra lives, and has you merely outrunning enemies for as long as possible, unarmed. By charging through moving gates, you can at least set off small detonations that kill anything in the vicinity, but for the most part this is a case of dodging and weaving like there's no tomorrow. One awesome achievement has you dry humping against all four outer walls without dying, while a sickening, sadistic second one has you then do it twice in a row. Fuck awf.
|One of the hardest achievements once again rids you of weaponry and asks that you survive eight waves of enemies in a row|
We already played "Waves" as a bonus game in PGR4
last year, and ultimately little's changed here. Long lines of orange dudes wipe their way across the board in sequence, with you having to blast holes through 'em to survive the craziness in increasingly rapid numbers. Far harder than it sounds.
The game finishes with my favorite mode of the bunch, "Sequence". I proclaim it so, as it - to a bit of an, ahem
, expert - is the only real mode that truly stumps me . I'm flat-out rubbish, in fact. So much so, I still can't finish the fucker. "Sequence" rids Geo Wars of its random quality you see, and puts you through 20 pre-scripted arenas in a row, each lasting a mere 30 seconds. Learning attack patterns, planning when to use bombs, and good old fashioned skill all play equal parts here if you're to complete them in the allotted time, in a pleasing change o' pace next to the random noisy nonsense we're used to. What happens on completion, I have no idea, but it's nice to get some truly hardcore, borderline unbeatable Geo Wars action with a definite end to work towards for a change. I can see this stealing many months of my life.
My Mind is Glowing
|You can play GW2 with up to 4 players in each of its modes, either co-operatively or against each other. You can even play in teams if you like, or, hilariously, have one guy steer while one shoots. Choices abound|
That's your modes, but there's other new-ness worth a mention. New enemies appear by the bucket-load, who I'll resist spoilering so that you can introduce yourselves in person. Graphics have seen a lovely upgrade too, so insanely colorful and luminous as to feel like you've been staring at a rainbow for a couple hours too long. And then there's multiplayer of course...four freakin' players worth
. Sadly, it's 100% offline, which is understandable given the hundreds of enemies and millisecond-caliber timing required, but 'tis a mild pity all the same.
That aside, I guess there's very little to nit-pick here then. I semi-seriously touched upon the lack of gun power-ups earlier, a bizarre nerf if ever there was one, but it's hardly a deal breaker by any means.
I suppose if anything, it would have been cool to see the Geo Wars gameplay and presentation we know and love taken into a more Mutant Storm-style scrolling universe, one with missions, bosses, moving levels and such, but then again, perhaps a more structured campaign like that would take away from the simplistic, high-score frag fest of awesomeness that Geo Wars has become synonymous with. This game very much embraces such antics you see...arguably more than just about any before it.
|GW2 just about matches the first for quality, and is a fab accompaniment that's well worth your Microsoft euros. It's a whole lot tougher in my opinion...but offsets it by being arguably a fuck-ton funner|
There's no better example in fact than the superb, arguably genre-defining manner in which friends leaderboards have been built directly into the menu system here, allowing you - nay, forcing
you - to compare scores with your pals across all six modes simultaneously each and every time you start up a new game. Clearly Bizarre get it. They know why addicts like me continued to hammer the original right up 'til last month. The art of dominating our buddies. In keeping with the game's sub-moniker of "Retro Evolved", Geo Wars' emphasis on leaderboards and high scores is a fantastic throw-back to the 80s that Live Arcade - and indeed this series in particular - have brought back full force, and a feat one simply cannot downplay. An addiction, I'd argue, that affords Geo Wars its own, bizarre multiplayer-y twist almost making up for the lack of any real
I'm gaggin' to get back to it right now and start showing them fools who's boss actually...despite the fact that with four bleedin' hours clocked on the sucker today alone, my thumb is in borderline medical-attention needing agony. It's quite literally turned grey with sweaty controller juice
I guess it's pretty sad to get so worked up and excited over a mere ?7 2D game where you shoot colored squares for hours on end, but hey, ya know what? A good game is a good game. They come in all shapes and sizes. All forms of simplicity and complexity. And for an all manner of different prices. And this series is most definitely one of the best.