Do you have a craving to destroy all of the shapes in the world because you flunked geometry class? Well, here's the ultimate in getting revenge for all of those hours spent, studying them so that you don't fail as badly as you would - Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved. It started off as an innocent bonus in Project Gotham Racing 2, and before we all knew it, it became its own stand alone game in a then-new feature of gaming consoles known as the Xbox Live Arcade (which Sony copied). It practically kick started its reputation of being full of quality arcade titles the instant people bought it and had heaps of fun with it, destroying as many shapes as possible, all the while giving math the big middle finger.
If you've played Asteroids before (and if you haven't, move out of that rock and do so), you'll have a good idea of how Geometry Wars works. You're a ship on a single screen, and the objective is to survive for as long as possible while racking up as many points as possible. Using the two analog sticks to move and fire, you take down a bunch of shapes as they appear before you run out of lives. No continues, no second chances - once you're out of ships, you're dead... if the lack of air doesn't kill you, the shapes will. Remember back when games were allowed to be this simple and critics and gamers wouldn't be so up in arms about it? Well, thanks to Geometry Wars, it's slowly becoming obvious that simplicity isn't bad!
A typical day in the universe of the shapes.
At the title screen, you're offered two options - Retro, or Evolved. Retro keeps you on a static screen, making things harder to manuever around when you're about to blow up, and the graphics and music are a bit simpler. Evolved has a bigger and better looking playing field and a better song. Retro will probably remind you more of the mini game from Project Gotham Racing 2, but if you honestly don't care, just go to Evolved and have fun.
As you destroy ships, you'll rack up some points, and the more points you rack up, the more lives and bombs you can earn, because at set point limits, you gain an extra life or an extra bomb, all of which, you'll need in order to make things easier for you as you progress, because the amount of enemies that'll appear will quadruple, and eventually, the screen becomes enemy hell. Bombs are especially a requirement because you need to keep the screen clear when enemies surround you. All these splitting, agile, homing and serpentine shapes and black holes will be the end of you if you don't keep your wits about you, and believe me when I say that losing your wits is easier done than said when bombarded and surrounded by millions of enemies, and every second counts when it comes right down to it, so bombing the field may be the only sighs of relief you can have at any given time. Thankfully, your weapon can upgrade as you collect powerups on the field, and multi-way shots and lasers become a lot more useful than simple little shots. You'll need everything you can find, get and use in order to survive when shapes appear in huge numbers, lest you want to be another victim of the galaxy's deadliest shapes.
Watch it, or you'll get violently *bleep*.
What keeps the game alive (aside from how fun it is) would have to be the achievements. Ranging from getting a high score, to a high score multiplier (via destroying heaps of enemies without dying), and even to one that might result in thousands of broken controllers where you must survive 60 seconds without setting off bombs or firing - no, really, it's harder than you think - there's always something to do in this game that'll make you think you're making progress, making sure you get that 200 Gamerscore so that future playthroughs will be for the sake of some quick fun, as although this is brutal, it's also quite fun to blow up as many shapes as possible. And honestly, who doesn't want to blow up something to do with math!?
The graphics are excellent and pretty stylish. Very simplistic in style, sure, but then you get a good look at all of those neon shapes, and it eventually feels like a neon rainbow. Your ship is like a shape, but its not quite finished. Basically, two pentagons without bottoms. When lots of shapes start blowing up, it ends up looking like a fireworks show. It gives new meaning to the saying "ooh pretty colors".
As for audio, there isn't much beyond some jittery explosions and a single techno track. The track works well with the neon visuals, since it makes you think of a 70s disco, and was about when Asteroids came out. It suits itself as a nice audio aid, though in amongst all the chaos and explosions, you won't really notice it.
Geometry Wars gets an 8/10 for being nothing more than quick and easy fun with increasingly brutal difficulty, especially when getting certain achievements. There isn't much of a variation in modes, but what we're given should be enough to keep you happy for a while.