Developer: Lucid Games
Publisher: Sierra Entertainment
Release Date: November 25th, 2014
Available On: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Reviewer’s Note: I played this game on the PlayStation 4. There may be differences between versions.
Geometry Wars 2: Retro Evolved is often considered one of the best twin stick shooters ever made, and it helped kick start an entire new wave of interest into the genre that is still going today. So many people aren’t going to be surprised when I say that Geometry Wars 3 isn’t as good as its predecessor. The next sentence may surprise you though. The reason Geometry Wars 3 isn’t as good as its predecessor is because, simply, it is better than it.
It seems crazy to say, but I came away from Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions completely impressed. It retains Geometry Wars 2’s perfect controls while adding new content to the game that does it good. To start though, Geometry Wars 3 plays like you would expect it to. The left stick moves, the right stick shoots, and the right trigger activates a bomb that wipes the stage of enemies. You’ll use these abilities to kill enemies, which cause them to drop Geoms that you can pick up to increase the multiplier. The biggest change comes in the form of drones. You can now pick a drone to accompany you into the levels, and each of the game’s five drones have different abilities. One shoots in the same direction as you, another snipes enemies that gets too close, while a third just goes around and collects Geoms. You can also give them a special ability that is activated by pressing the left trigger. Like drones, you have several special abilities to choose from which could result in a flurry of missiles to a chain of mines. If you happen to like a particular drone or ability then you can use the Geoms you collect to upgrade them between stages, adding in a (very light) RPG element. Drones are an awesome addition as they add even more choices for you to go into the game with, but they don’t compromise the gameplay at all.
Using these new skills, you’ll be going through a 50 level campaign that has a very nice spread of both classic and new levels. Fans of Geometry Wars 2 will find modes like King (where you can only shoot while inside a bubble) and Evolved (One life, score as many points as you can) are still just as fun now as they were back in the other game. Yet the game updates these modes with a extremely simple thing: 3D maps. Taking a hint from some other twin stick shooters, maps now come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Cubes, cylinders, spheres, doughnuts, even one map that is a peanut. It’s interesting how a simple change up of map design can alter basic modes so easily. Of course there are also some great new modes. Sniper only gives you limited ammo which makes accuracy key, Titan pits you against giant enemies that split into smaller enemies as you kill them, while another mode has enemies painting the ground and you trying to stop them before they can paint the whole thing. My only complaint is that each of these new modes didn’t get more showings. Each of the new modes only show up about one or two times each, which is a real shame. Don’t like the new changes and only want to replay the classic modes? Good news, all of the modes from Geometry Wars 2 has returned exactly as they were untouched (with the unfortunate exception of Sequence mode) in the classic modes section.
In something completely new, Geometry Wars 3 also has multiplayer, both local co-op and online competitive. The co-op campaign is a short 10 mission campaign that can be played locally with up to 4 people. It’s fun enough, pretty challenging, and does add a great deal of entertainment if you have your friends over. It’s not going to replace some of the other local co-op games available, but it’s worth going to if you have some friends around. The competitive mode has two 4v4 game modes. Stock mode has each team rushing to defeat a boss before the other team, needing to pick up and pass ammo to each other to do so. Summoner has teams capturing control points to summon more enemies, and try to score more points than the other team. Nothing is wrong with either mode, but in my experience I had difficulty getting anything close to enough players to start a game, let alone a full one.
Overall, I was extremely impressed by Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions. Each level is fun, both in just trying to clear it and in trying to conquer my friend’s high scores. The multiplayer may be a wasteland, but the new modes should be more than enough for Geometry Wars fans. I can’t recommend this game enough, and I’m glad to see the king return to its throne.