Review: Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2

One of the most successful Xbox Live Arcade titles of all time has finally got a true sequel and, not surprisingly, it’s just as awesome as the original. Of course I’m talking about Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2. Not content with the two game modes available in the first game, GW:RE2 ups the ante with six very addictive new game types.

In addition to the new game types, Bizarre Creations have also tweaked the gameplay in subtle but significant ways. After an enemy is destroyed there will be small “geoms” floating about in the debris. Pick these up to increase your multiplier and start racking up the points. Also be on the look out for new enemies with new attack patterns to learn. Finally, there are no gun upgrades in the single player mode. You’re always going to have the same gun you start out with.

When you first download the game only one of the modes is open to you, but the other five modes are easily opened up by after playing for a few games. The first mode is Deadline. You have unlimited lives and a limited number of bombs to rack up the highest score possible in three minutes.

In King you can only fire your weapon when your ship is within a safe zone. Enemies cannot enter the area around you but the safe zone won’t last forever and will shrink out of existence within five or so seconds of entering it. Be sure to clear a path to the next safe zone before the one you’re in disappears. Remember, you only have one life in King.

Evolved is the same mode as the original Geometry Wars. You have finite lives and bombs and you want to stay alive as long as possible.

Pacifism is probably the most popular mode in the game. The idea is similar to the Pacifism achievement in the original game. You have one life and no bombs and you can’t shoot your gun. The only way to take out the enemies following you is to pass through a gate with a few of them close to it. Passing through the gate destroys the gate and any enemies within a certain area. This mode can be frustrating at first until you get into the groove of it.

Waves will send – you guessed it – waves of enemies at you from the edge of the screen. You have one life and no bombs. This isn’t too difficult at first but you’ll quickly find yourself getting attacked from all sides at the same time while you desperately try to shoot a hole to escape from. This mode was first featured as a minigame in Project Gotham Racing 4.

The final new mode is Sequence. In this mode you have 20 stages to play through. You have 30 seconds to clear each stage by destroying all the enemies. If you lose a life you advance to the next stage. If you run out of time you advance to the next stage.

In addition to all this you and a friend can also play simultaneously. Multiplayer is the only time when you will get a gun upgrade for your ship which you can get by flying over the stars that periodically appear on the screen. In multiplayer modes you are competing with your friend for high score.

Of course the visual style of Geometry Wars hasn’t been changed. The colors are still bright and vibrant. Enemies still explode in a shower of multi-colored sparks when they’re destroyed and it’s still incredibly easy to lose track of your ship amid the constantly undulating background and the myriad explosions that are going on all around you.

If you have a 360 and you are connected to the internet this game needs to be in your library. Geometry Wars is the distilled essence of the best modern games on the shelves today. It has classic gameplay elements and an addictive, contemporary style bundled into one brilliant game.