Critical Hit: Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved
Quick Breakdown: An excellent twin stick shooter, featuring various modes of play, plenty of levels, and classic modes for the previous games.
Length: 20+ hours
Genre: Twin Stick Shooter
Full Review: I bought this game because I was constantly seeing a notification for one of my friends on Steam playing it, so I figured I’d see what he was logging all those hours into and give it a chance. Goddamn, am I glad I did too, because this game is fantastic.
I’ve played the 1st Geometry Wars game, though not the second. This game is a huge step up from the first, and from what I can tell, a huge step up from the second as well. If you like the old games then you should love this one too. If you’re new to the series then this is the best place to start. It has the classic mode from the first game, and I think it has all the modes from the second as well. At the least, it has about a half dozen other classic game modes in addition to the main game. I won’t spend any more time on these classic modes since they aren’t the main focus of this game, but suffice it to say that they provide added entertainment to the game.
If you do get this game, I highly recommend getting an X-Box controller for Windows, as this game is unplayable with just a keyboard, or with a keyboard and mouse. For this review, when I refer to the controls I’m referring specifically to when using a controller.
The gameplay itself is very simple: you control a highly maneuverable ship that can shoot in any direction, you use one joy stick to move, and the other to shoot. One of the shoulder buttons will release a bomb that clears the screen of enemies, while the other will release a special attack depending on the drone you picked (more on the drones later). The number of times you can use a bomb or special attack depends on the level. Usually just once per stage, sometimes up to three, and sometimes none.
The meat of the gameplay is done in adventure mode, which is a series of levels featuring a variety of different modes. Each level is completed by earning enough points to get a 1 star rating. You can earn up to 3 stars for each level by further surpassing higher and higher score thresholds. (I’ll talk more about the stars later.) Different levels have different maps, and while some of them are flat, most of them are various 3 dimensional shapes, upon which you can cruise across the entire surface.
Some of the different game modes include scoring enough points under a certain time limit, in which you have infinite lives. In other modes you have only one or three lives and must reach the score before you exhaust your lives. There’s a mode where you can only attack from inside domes that spawn and disappear from the map. The game also features bosses, and a handful of other game modes to play.
Earning points in a level is as simple as destroying your enemies, which consist of different geometric shapes that each behave in a different manner. Each time you kill an enemy they drop green gems, known as geoms, that increase your score multiplier. You pick up the geoms simply by piloting near them.
When you pick a level you can also choose your loadout, which consists of a drone and a drone super. The first affects the ship you pilot, such as increasing your attack spread, or having a drone that automatically seeks and collects geoms for you. The super gives you another attack to use in the level, such as dropping a turret that shoots for a short period of time, or a black hole that sucks in all the enemies for a short while. When you complete a boss level you unlock a new drone super, though you must purchase it first. You purchase it with the stars you earn by completing levels, so earning more stars than needed per level has more benefit than just bragging rights. You can purchase upgrades for both drones and the drone supers with geoms. Each time you finish a level, regardless of if you complete it successfully or not, all the geoms you collected are added to the funds you can spend towards upgrades. Upgrading your drones and supers will make the game a bit easier, though you’ll still need to figure out the best combination of drone and super for a level.
All that is well and good for the game, and certainly worth the price of purchase, but about 4 months after the game was released it received a massive update. It’s the sort of update that was loaded with enough quality content that I wouldn’t mind throwing a few bucks at it for DLC, but the developers instead went the commendable route of including it as a free update. If you already owned the game, you got all the new content for free. If you purchase the game today, then you’ll get all the new content with it.
This new content featured over 40 new levels, a new drone, a new super, new game modes, and new enemies. The new levels are split between two new game modes. One is essentially a hard mode for adventure, featuring new levels (some of which feature new game modes themselves). The other is a hardcore mode, which serves as another adventure mode, but this time you cannot use drones or supers. It’s essentially an adventure mode, but with just the abilities of the old games. (You could view it as a “classic” adventure mode.)
The new update also slightly tweaked the original adventure mode. Originally, when you played through the game you had to earn a certain number of stars before you could fight a boss. For example, the first boss was the 10th level, and I think it required 15 stars; meaning that you had to earn higher than just 1 star on the 9 levels before it. The update required this star requirement. The star requirement was an unnecessary obstacle that sometimes led to replaying levels more than was enjoyable, just to earn enough stars to advance further. That’s the only tweak to the base of the game that I’m aware of, and I’m glad that it was one that fixed one of the game’s flaws.
I sunk about 20 hours into the game to complete all the base content and the added levels of the update. The game can be completed faster than that given the removal of the star requirement, meaning one will only replay levels when they actually want to. I also spent a lot of time trying to get 3 stars on as many levels as possible just because of how much fun it was. So while I’m not sure exactly how long would be needed to finish the game (I’d guess around 12-15, but I could be off), I was able to thoroughly enjoy it for over 20 hours.
Geometry Wars 3 is a fantastic twin shooter. You’ll want a controller to play it, but it’s well worth the price.
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