Crispy Gamer

Games for Lunch: Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2

Geometry Wars 2

Developer: Bizarre Creations

Publisher: Activision

Release Date: July 30, 2008

System: Xbox 360

ESRB Rating: E

Official Web site

0:00 Considering I've played the original game probably more than any other Xbox 360 title, the question of playing this one for "more than an hour" already seems kind of moot.

0:01 Jumping right in to Deadline mode, the only mode available initially. I see one of my Xbox Live friends, DangerPenguin, is ahead of me with 325,635 points. I wonder if that's good. I also wonder who DangerPenguin is.

0:02 "Avoid the deadly enemy shapes." You have to love a game that can have an instruction like that. You HAVE to! Seems a lot like its predecessor right off: 2-D, overheard perspective, left stick moves, right stick fires.

0:03 In the first game, my score multiplier went up automatically as I killed enemies. This time I have to pick up little golden "Geoms" the enemies drop to increase the multiplier. I'm not a fan. Especially because I lose my first life trying to collect some.

0:04 Most interesting new enemy: A white line that reflects my shots back at other enemies. I can't figure out how to kill it, short of a screen-clearing bomb. Least interesting new enemy: An orange triangle that flies in a straight line. Snooze.

0:06 The time limit expires and I decimated DangerPenguin's score with a 1,373,840 performance. I like the unlimited lives in this mode, but the three-minute time limit feels too short. I was just getting into the flow of things!

0:07 I'm only 42 percent of the way to unlocking "King" mode. Guess I'll play some more Deadline, then.

0:11 I beat my own high score with a 1,653,865 performance. I wasn't even trying that hard to collect the multiplier-increasing Geoms, but I still got a multiplier of 350x. Score inflation, much?

0:12 King mode is 86 percent unlocked. Here we go again!

0:15 I underperform this time, scoring 1,442,895. I was a little too focused on getting the "rebound" achievement, which requires me to kill 75 enemy ships by bouncing off the reflector enemies.

0:17 King mode unlocked! I can only fire from blue/green safe zones, which the enemies can't enter. The zones disappear after a few seconds, though, forcing me to flee to a nearby zone, picking up Geoms on the way. Feels like a game of tag, jumping from base to base.

0:18 I'm sloppy and die incredibly quickly as one of my bases disintegrates. Score: 62,820. Not a single one of my friends has played this mode. I need better friends. (Send me a friend request. Gamertag: KyleOrl)

0:19 Get up to 1,120,520 the second time around. It's incredibly satisfying taking out the congealed mass of blue and pink ships that gather around my safe zones. It's even more thrilling weaving between the safe zones, unable to fire. There's something elegant about the silence between the shootings.

0:22 As the enemies get more and more numerous, my strategy changes from weaving around and collecting Geoms to just darting to the closest safe zone as quickly as possible. I score 1,719,950 and get 15 Gamerscore points for collecting 500 Geoms -- "Magpie" they call me.

0:23 Evolved mode is 88 percent unlocked. That's OK, I'm still enjoying the novelty of King mode.

0:25 A depressing showing of around a million points and it's time to move on to Evolved. This one seems set up like the first game -- limited lives, limited bombs, survive and score as long as possible.

0:27 I find it interesting that that the score multiplier doesn't go away when I get killed, even in this mode. This takes away a lot of the tension that made each life a struggle to survive in the last game.

0:29 I score 3,405,580 on my first try. In the last game, I could barely break a million on my best day. Score inflation -- gotta love it.

0:30 I'm really liking the little improvements to the presentation, like the music cutting out when I die and the slightly smoother animation of the simplistic, geometric enemies. I love the classic music, too.

0:34 I score 5,016,190 points on my second Evolved try. The game seems less designed for marathon play sessions this time, and more focused on overwhelming you quickly. The enemies seem smarter about clumping this time around.

0:35 Pacifism mode unlocked. "Your ship has no weapons," but I can destroy nearby enemies by flying through the reflector gate. So THAT'S how I destroy them!

0:36 That was fast. I die within seconds, scoring a measly 24,275 points.

0:37 84,550. This time I crashed into to the red edge of the white lined gate. The mode reminds me a little of Pac-Man. In that game, I'd wait by a power pellet until the ghosts were nearby. Here, I wait by the gate until the stupid blue diamonds swarm around me.

0:39 After three pathetic attempts where I quickly crash into the edge of gates, I manage a decent score of 949,150. I'm my own worst enemy here.

0:41 I won't bore you with the details, but I've been dying every 20 seconds or so by -- you guessed it -- crashing into gates. The blue diamonds aren't nearly as threatening as my bad maneuvering.

0:43 Waves mode is unlocked, filled with those orange triangles flying in long, beautiful phalanxes. It gets tough quick. Before I know it, I'm scrambling just to bust a hole in the lines so I can survive another few seconds amid the screen-filling cross-hash of orange enemies. I score 2,260,725, a performance I'm extremely happy with.

0:45 Three more quick games of Waves, none of which go nearly as well as the first. Beginner's luck? Anyway, I unlocked the final game mode, Sequence, which has 20 set levels, each with a strict 30-second time limit.

0:49 Sequence is an interesting take on Geo Wars formula. Each stage starts off with just a handful of enemies, than quickly fills the screen with a wide variety of attackers. I'm not used to having a time limit for killing. Usually I try to stay alive as long as possible, figuring I'll eventually kill everything. Speaking of dying, I finish first three levels with no problem, then die on six in a row.

0:53 On my second try, I complete the first five levels with no problem, then one false move kills me and destroys my confidence as I lose four levels in a row. I use my bombs to come back in Level 10, but crash into another gate in Level 11. GATES! My old nemesis returns!

0:56 Learning the patterns in each level definitely helps, for the first few levels at least. I gotta say, though, these green guys that dodge my shots are a lot more annoying now that there's a time limit.

0:58 New enemy alert: a tiny white eye surrounded by dozens of blue eyes. I have to break through the blue guys quickly to reach the destructible center.

0:59 Level 14 is a psychedelic mess of exploding gravity wells, each of which sets off an explosion of color. I think my mind just imploded, and I love it!

1:00 I make it to level 16 before finally using up my last bomb and succumbing to the threat. My multiplier was approaching 1,500. Madonn'!

Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes.

Why? It doesn't seem quite as perfectly tuned as the first one, but the variety of modes will keep me tinkering for a while at least.

This review is based on a downloadable copy of the game purchased by the reviewer.

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