The original Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved, not the hidden mini-game inside Project Gotham Racing 2, became the catalyst that sparked the explosion of the digital marketplace eight years ago. Before the shuttering of Bizarre Creations, Retro Evolved 2 failed to build a suitable online Geometry Wars experience, although it received high marks for the multiple new game modes. The return of Sierra Games under the umbrella of Activision and the emergence of Lucid Games (founded by ex- Bizarre Creations employees) has brought the addicting heart racing gameplay to a new generation of gamers and consoles.
For those unfamiliar with the series, you’ll take on the role of a small, but highly agile ship that can move and shoot independently in any direction. Both analog sticks are required, with the left controlling your movement and the right stick shooting in the direction it is pointed. Previously set across a flat grid of intense colors and shapes, you’ll be navigating around spheres, cubes and all sorts of shapes in similar fashion. Each of the different game modes includes various objectives, but for the majority of them, getting hit once will destroy the ship and cost you a life.
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions feels like an evolution to the series, keeping the core gameplay and expanding on it naturally, but bringing in something that will surely change the series forever. The initial levels will slowly acclimate you into the new three-dimensional playing areas, and by the time you reach the end of Adventure mode (of which there are 50 levels), you’ll have mastered the art of this worthy successor to Retro Evolved.
Within Adventure Mode, you’ll experience all types of game modes, including some of the most engaging boss battles of the year. Titan mode feels similar to a game of Asteroids, with large shapes breaking into multiple smaller chunks and even those can be broken down into even smaller (and deadlier) pieces. Pacifist will test your will and patience, by avoiding incoming shapes without firing a single shot as you attempt to trigger chain reactions by flying through floating goal posts. Other modes require you to attempt to get a set score before the time limit expires, while others will only give you a single life to work with. Each level yields up-to three stars, depending on your score. Bosses are gated, so you may have to work on earning more stars on previous levels.
Making it through all 50 levels alone is no easy task, but the return of drones from the previous game adds much needed support. As the screen becomes littered with all sorts of shapes and colors, you may mistake you drone for an enemy in the heat of the moment. It has happened to me on more than one occasion, leading to an untimely lose of life. Being the first drone unlocked, Attack will simply assist in shooting. As you progress further, you’ll unlock additional drones that can help with collecting precious geoms, destroy close-by enemies or a final one that can snipe enemies from long distance.
Outside of the bombs with the ability to clearing out the entire area of enemies, the drones will eventually gain Supers. These can be activated in each level, providing additional support. At the cost of collected geoms, both drones and their Supers can be leveled up. Selecting the right drone and Super depends on the situation, but if you have favorites, you don’t need to reselect each time. With a single click, you can instantly load into the level without having to deal with additional menus.
Carrying over the gameplay mechanic from Retro Evolved 2, geoms are required to be collected in order to increase your multiplier and score. This is a stark contrast to those that have only dabbled in the original game, which focused on the destruction of enemies instead. A popular strategy from the original that carries over to most twin-stick shooters focuses on flying away from enemies and shoot behind you. With the geoms being a requirement to gather to increase your multiplier and level up the drones, this method no longer proves to be ideal.
If you happen to be looking for a classic Geometry Wars feel, Classic mode is comprised of almost every previous game mode. These modes are vastly improved with the new visual style and feature the same addicting leaderboard gameplay that kept myself awake for far too many nights.
Throughout all of the modes, you’ll encounter the trademark enemies of the series, however the introduction of dimensions takes the fear of being caught to a new level. Remember those orange/yellow rockets that streamed across the screen only to turn back around and wreak havoc? Now picture them infinitely moving back and forth around a globe shaped level, waiting for you to blindly fly straight into them. Dimensions has forever changed the landscape of Geometry Wars as you’ll figure out new strategies to deal with ���old friends”. One problem I constantly had, was handling spawning enemies. Maybe it was just a string of bad luck, but I was constantly losing lives by enemies spawning directly on top of my ship.
Unlike other twin-stick shooters that tossed bullet-sponge style bosses in your path, the bosses in GW3 require a bit of puzzle solving to defeat. At times you’ll have to deal with waves of spawning enemies, level altering environmental hazards, and destroy the next stage of the boss prior to the timer expiring. In order to get the highest possible score, you’ll want to maximize your time destroying the smaller ships and collecting geoms, before attempting to take out the boss.
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions marks the first time that I experienced the chaotic nature of cooperative or competitive Geometry Wars gameplay. Up to four players can work together to achieve the highest possible score, however more player-controlled ships on screen add to the already tense nature of the game. Competitive multiplayer matches work in similar fashion, although you are attempting to shoot more enemies and collect more geoms than anyone else.
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions is a worthy successor and a natural evolution of the series. Lucid Game has included the best parts of the previous games and blended them together into a single game bursting with content.
Note: The Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions review is based on a digital PS4 copy of the game provided for review.