Nov 20, 2007
At its core, Geometry Wars: Galaxies is pretty much the same as Retro Evolved on the 360, and that's a good thing. You still pilot the same old claw-shaped ship and must survive never-ending waves of hostile shapes that attack you from every angle for as long as possible. Dodging death by mere pixels, while blasting your way through swarms of enemies amidst the colorful chaos is still mesmerizing on the Wii, but does Galaxies have enough meat to warrant the price of a full game? After all, part of what made Retro Evolved so sweet on the 360 was that it was a steal, costing only $5.00/£3.40 on Xbox LIVE.
Above: The sperm snakes that drove you batty two years ago return to crush you once again
Fortunately, developer Kuju Entertainment has fattened up Galaxies significantly, with extra treats and smart tweaks that makes for a Geometry Wars experience that's less frustrating, more engaging and really, really, hard.
The long list of new maps helps Galaxies break free from the one-level world of Retro Evolved. These new areas add loads of replay value with lots of unusual twists that change things up enough to keep the game fresh with warp points, Pac-Man-esque mazes, moving walls, or (our favorite) a black hole that spins objects on the screen like a washing machine. Flying with - and then against - the invisible current as it pushes and pulls you around while enemies swirl past you haphazardly feels great and looks awesome.
Drones that aid you in battle also add flavor to each round. Some guard your back with a spray of bullets, while others circle your ship and shield you from danger. As you fight more battles these companions gain XP and become more powerful.
The scoring system has also been tweaked. Fallen foes now drop Geoms that increase your score multiplier and help you unlock new levels and more types of Drones. Geoms don't hang around on the screen for long, and you'll have to get close to enemies to grab them. This new element of risk and reward works well in Galaxies, and you'll find yourself trying to take down crowds of enemies at point blank range instead of from the other side of the screen.
Above: Galaxies' new Drone allies, wily shapes and diabolical levels makes Retro Evolved seem as plain as Asteroids
Fans will notice a significant drop in the amount of cursing and angry restarts that follow deaths. After you die, extra Geoms to unlock new levels or Drones are waiting for you in the menu; and leveling up your collection of Drones or testing your skills in some of the more challenging levels breaks through the monotony of its predecessors one-level grind.
New multiplayer modes also let you join forces or compete with a friend on the classic Retro Evolved stage. You can either partner up to share bombs, lives and score, or compete to see who can steal the most kills to rack up a higher score. There's also a Co-op Solar System, with ten levels designed just for two. But even though multiplayer is always more than welcome, they feel tacked on in comparison to some of the DS' more inventive game types.
We were wondering if Galaxies would feel like a slightly dolled up version the arcade title. But because of all the improvements and extra content, Galaxies' offers lots of replay value to help justify the purchase.
Unlike the forgotten titles that have collected dust since you beat them, Geometry Wars: Galaxies is the sort of game that you'll rediscover and dive back into for another round (or ten) long after your first encounter with it. With all the new bells and whistles, there's no way that fans of Retro Evolved could go wrong with this one. But even strangers to the series should give Geometry Wars: Galaxies a shot as they'd be hard pressed to find a more satisfying 2D shooter out there.