Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved
You’re about to die. A few thousand yards away from your warship, a black hole is slowly consuming every particle of matter in the immediate area. Despite your best efforts to pull your spacecraft away, you’ll get sucked in a matter of minutes and be stretched into oblivion. Your only hope of salvation comes in the form of the laser cannons mounted on the outside of the ship; a few well-placed blasts of energy will wipe out the black hole and allow you to roam the cosmos once again. But before you can unload some of your destructive payload, a swarm of colored blocks suddenly materializes out of nothing and descends upon you like a cloud of neon locusts. As you frantically shoot down anything that gets too close to your ship, the block hole pops like an over-inflated balloon, sending a few blobs of antimatter rushing toward you. In the blink of an eye, your ship is vaporized, leaving you stunned as your score is tallied and displayed on the screen.
With drool cascading from your lower lip and sweaty palms firmly gripping your Xbox 360 controller, you select continue and return to your crusade in Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved.
That’s right, boy and girls. One of the Xbox 360’s greatest titles doesn’t involve smacking zombies around a mall, fighting with scantily clad ninjas, or busting open living pinatas. Instead of some overpriced console title, Geometry Wars is one of several games that can be downloaded from the Xbox Live Arcade. Unlike the incredibly realistic wartime games on the system, this game hearkens back to a simpler time in gaming, where players only had a joystick and their wits to rely upon. There’s no story, no dramatic cutscenes, witty dialogue, or character development. All you’re given is a spaceship with just enough moxie to see it through an interstellar war of epic proportions.
Your conquest will begin with the ship being placed inside a rectangular arena marked with lines to make a tiny grid. As the techno music starts up and your pulse starts pounding, a lone windmill-shaped ship spins in your general direction. Armed with the left control stick on the Xbox 360 controller, you can easily outmaneuver this little pest and find someplace safer to roam. But with each second that passes, more shapes will appear on the screen. Eventually, the arena will be filled with these little blobs of color, forcing you to dodge and weave least one of them hits you and turns your ship into scrap metal. Your only option is to blast the enemies to smithereens using your weapons, amassing points with each successful kill. Since your foes can come from any direction, you’ll have to use the right control stick to aim your shots; all you have to do is press the stick in the right direction, and pray that that the enemy gets blown away. Thus the process of seeing an enemy, swiveling the control sticks accordingly, and looking for the next target continues…
At least, until all hell breaks loose.
Once you’ve shot down enough of the lesser enemies, plenty of newer, deadlier foes will rear their non-existent heads. The meandering windmills will be replaced with heat-seeking glowing diamonds, followed by green squares that obsessively pursue you and dodge your bullets. Neon space serpents will crawl out of whatever intergalactic holes they come from, letting their brightly lit tails and jaws illuminate the battleground. Smaller, more agile enemies will constantly harass you, forcing you to fly through the arena in a desperate attempt to evade them. Black holes will appear randomly as well, stretching the very fabric of space as they try to suck in your ship, any enemies stupid enough to get close enough to it, and even other black holes. You’re only defense comes in the form of multiple upgrades to your weapons, which include a machine gun, a quintuple missile launcher, and a few bombs that can clear the screen once things get too hard for you to handle.
It’s not a question of if it gets too hard, but when. It’s just a matter of time before all the triangles, circles, squares, and space serpents overwhelm you with their sheer numbers. You’ll feel terrified when you see that first swarm of green squares suddenly appear out of nowhere, fill the screen, and start rushing you in a massive cloud of light. You’ll start to sweat once an entire legion of serpents weaves its way through your path, nearly making you reach for your little stock of bombs to set everything right. There’s nothing quite as awesome as watching a black hole burn bright red, consume five others, rip through the grid that holds the cosmos together, and eventually explode with a blinding flash of light and thunderous sound. You can see the light glowing from your energy shots, the ripples left in the wake of your missiles, and watch the mini fireworks display every time an enemy gets shot to hell. In the midst of all this chaos, your ship will simply float, a simple V-shaped craft with just enough heart to win the day.
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved is an awesome game. It’ll remind older gamers of the games they used to enjoy; though this title is featured on one of the most current consoles available, its gameplay reflects that of Asteroids, Tempest, and plenty of other classic arcade shooters. But as the name suggests, this game goes far beyond what those older games could muster. You’ll be in for an incredibly intense experience with fast-paced gameplay, fluid controls, and more enemies than you should probably shake a stick at. The game gives players a vivid show of light and color that only the Xbox 360 could render so beautifully. For just a few moments, forget about all those must-own titles for your console. The real quality can be found on the live Arcade. Geometry Wars may not be the most popular game on the Xbox 360, but it should be.
Eight out of ten