Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved Xbox Live Review

I can honestly admit I never expected the words “is good” and “Xbox Live Arcade” to form a sentence that would be emanating from my mouth. I never really expected much to come from it and from the small amount of information I knew about it in the weeks coming up to the 360’s release I thought such an application would succeed. To top it all of I never ever thought I would actually be downloading anything from it come the release of the Xbox 360. Well all my best laid plans were foiled a few days ago when I finally had enough of the demo on PRG3 cutting out after a few minutes and with a lump in my throat I decided I needed to buy some Microsoft Points and download this beauty and thankfully I was not disappointed in any way.

For those that do not know what Geometry Wars is and don’t own a copy of Project Gotham Racing 3 or cant be bothered to download the XLA demo then let me give you a rundown on what to expect. IGN coined the phrase “Asteroids on Speed” in their review of the title and there is no better way to describe the game. If you don’t already know, GW is a 1 player game where you control a ship which looks like a little claw. The left stick moves the ship along the screen, while the right stick provides a 360 degree firing which lets you hit anything on screen with ease (which is needed in later parts of the game). You also start the game with 3 smart bombs which can be used with the tap of RT or LT to rid the screen of all enemies. These should be used wisely though.

The only objective the game sets you is to blow the hell out of everything you see on screen. All the enemies will die after one hit (the pink one splits into two smaller pieces). Now while it may seem easy it is far from it when the action heats up. The first minute of gameplay is relatively slow paced and only throws a maximum of 15 enemies at you at one time but after that there can be up to and beyond 80 enemies on screen at once all dead set on ridding you from your 2D existence. If you are able to break the 150K barrier a new enemy is thrown in which is basically about 300 little dots all wanting to destroy you. It can be very satisfying ridding the screen of these guys!

Black holes also appear on the screen (they are coloured red though!). These act like all good black holes do and they suck in anything that comes near them (including your little ship). These can explode after sucking up too many enemy ships and should you choose to let them do so a swarm of white dots will come from them and fly across the screen after you. You can however shoot at the black (red) hole to blow it up before it sucks in too much but you will get less points if you do so and seeing as Geometry Wars is all about getting the highest score possible that may or may not be a smart thing to do (you got to stay alive as well you know!)

To help you blow stuff up you have ever-improving blasters which get better as you advance through the game. You start with single slow blasters which advance to quicker blasters which advance to triple and quintuplet blasters! You also get an extra life and an extra smart bomb at 75,000 and 100,000 points respectively. To help you get a nice high score and possibly challenge the 6million scores that some people a getting on the Live Leaderboards a score multiplier counts up as you blast your way though the hoards which increases your point total dramatically but if you die the multiplier resets.

I know this may sound stupid to some but if you do not know where to download the game it is XLA found in the “Games” blade of the Xbox 360 dashboard. I personally know two people that did not know they could play Hexic HD as they never went into Live Arcade at all. The download is only 14MB so even those that have sneaked their way onto Xbox Live on a 56k modem can have the full title on their hard drive in around an hour. The download essentially includes 2 games – the “retro” version found in PGR 2, and the “evolved” (and better) version. In terms of audio the music is comprised of a smiley dance/techno beat that loops every minute. It is not the greatest composition ever but it suits the frantic reaction based gameplay every well. The sound effects are also well done and suit the game well with your ship’s blasters and all other booms sounding great! The music also fades in and out as you shoot and launch bombs, which is a nice touch.

The game is a treat to play and although there are only two different modes of play you do get a lot for your 400 points (which is just about £4). If you want to play the game just to get a high score then there is lots of fun to be had. If you want to add to your Gamerscore buy unlocking one of the achievements there is fun to be had there too but be warned many of them are rock hard to get! The game is also highly addictive which means you might still be playing it as we go into 2007 and long after the £40 titles you may have bought are gathering dust on a shelf. If you’re worried that the game might not be for you then download the free demo see what you think and if you do get the full game you might find out that it was the best £4 you spent all year!

8.7 out of 10

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