It wasn’t that long ago when we first learned that Activision planned to release games under the defunct Sierra umbrella once again. The first game that will be released is being developed by Lucid Games, one of the handful of companies founded by ex-Bizarre Creations employees. One of the founders of Lucid Games, Craig Howard visited New York City and brought with him a build of the upcoming Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions.
Taking the series to new heights, Geometry Wars 3 feels like a natural progression or evolution for the series. While it is easy to pick up and proclaim that it feels like Geometry Wars, the obvious differences, namely the introduction of the third dimension sets the game apart from its predecessors.
After being demonstrated the basic mechanics and core updates/changes to the series, the Xbox One controller was placed in my hands and I was free to check out any of the 50 levels that make up the game’s single-player Adventure mode. Choosing one of the earlier levels in the game, the grid-like world generated itself on-screen in stunning visual clarity and colors. No longer is my stylized angled ship imprisoned in the realm of 2D, but is able to freely move around fully formed shapes. The level I chose first took the flat familiar grid and gave it a twisted appearance giving dimensionality to it, but restricting my movements to a single side thanks to the walls that enclosed it. The twin-stick shooter’s controls felt as sharp as ever, with the triggers being used for bombs and special abilities. Bombs clear the entire area of enemies, but won’t net you any points. Enemies will still drop green geoms for you to collect in order to increase your multiplier.
It didn’t take long before I ventured ahead, trying out new shapes and new game types in the process. While I wasn’t able to get pass a single star rating on my first peanut shaped level, I had my best score on a perfectly round level (reminiscent of Super Stardust HD). Drones make a triumphant return to the series, giving you plenty of options to choose from before starting a level. I didn’t test all of the options, but I found the standard Attack or Sniper version to work best, but the Ram drone to attack nearby enemies and the Miner to help collect Geoms can be just as useful. The Sniper drone may be slower to fire, but is incredibly accurate. Geoms are important to collect as they will allow you to upgrade not only the drones, but the special abilities as well. Using the drone’s special abilities will help if you are in a tight spot. Being able to turn the drone into a turbine capable of firing in a full 360 degrees for a short time was an amazing sight to see with the lasers fully encompassing the shapes.
If you know you won’t want to make any changes to your load out, you can immediately enter a level without having to reselect anything. I was told this was an important piece to the game, allowing players to get into the game as fast as possible, keeping that arcade vibe. Can’t get any faster than using a single button press to get into a level.
Boss battles are every sense of the word chaotic, establishing since you will be dealing with larger enemies providing their own challenges and waves of enemies. As I mentioned earlier, all of the single-player levels are tied to a specific game type, and you’ll find your favorites make a return. A “titan” level features larger enemies that break into multiple smaller versions when attacked, similar to Asteroids. A new version of pacifist quickly became one of my favorite game types, as you guide your ship with the goal to avoid the waves of enemies that will come at you from all sides. Mines are scattered about the level, and if you fly over them, it will cause a chain reaction, taking out enemies and other mines in the vicinity. The twist to it however, comes from the glowing red enemies that will target your ship, instead of moving in a straight line like the rest of the enemies. Timing it so that the red enemies are caught in the explosion will boost your score.
As if 50 single-player levels weren’t enough, Lucid Games has included both cooperative and competitive multiplayer options, as well as a Classic mode. While the online multiplayer wasn’t available, I did get to play a couple of the local multiplayer levels. The first level we played featured unlimited lives for players, but others limit it to only one life per player. The cooperative boss battle was intense and after several attempts and a couple close calls, we failed to take it down. At each stage we had to contend with swarms of enemies and a timer that forced us to focus fire on the boss.
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions is set to launch on November 25th for PC, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 and the following day on Xbox One and Xbox 360. Activision has announced the 3D twin-stick shooter will cost $15 on all platforms.