Sunday, November 30, 2014

Indie Impressions - Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions

Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions

Now Available on Steam (Also on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One)

Developed by Lucid Games

After over five years of inactivity, the series that gave twin-stick shooters the reputation they have today for frenetic arcade action in quick sessions makes its comeback. With some new minds behind this fresh installment, does Geometry Wars 3 live up to the standards set by its elders?

The first thing I notice when starting up Geometry wars 3 for the first time are the stellar production values. The title screen alone with its swirling colored auras and a strange vector grid stretching out infinitely before you, the soothing electronic tones of the background music shimmering in and out like waves. Before even getting into the game I can already tell a tremendous amount of work has gone into the look, the feel, and the sounds of the game and have been focused on much stronger in this iteration of the series.

The progression of adventure mode is much more varied in levels than any of the classic games which will be a welcome addition to new players who craved a more content heavy experience. Across the adventure mode map you'll advance through levels of increasing difficulty and each with an important three star rating based on score. Aside from stars you'll earn points in order to purchase upgrades for your various drones, a newcomer to the Geometry Wars series that offers a number of abilities including back-up fire, mines, or magnetized pickups for the Geoms to keep your score multiplier going and let you focus on the action.

Each new level features a different mode ranging from classic 'Evolved' to new additions like 'Rainbow', with a variation of differently shaped 3D landscapes dotted with rotating pillars, red life stealing walls, and various other obstacles thrown into the mix. Aforementioned stars will be needed to access the various boss stages that break up adventure mode, and they can be quite hard to collect especially if you're not a diehard twin-stick player. Bosses feel like a strange and not very Geometry Wars-like addition, but they are nonetheless very intense and flashy with their chaotic bullet hell-like patterns.

The classic enemies players will remember from the last games are adapted to this new 3D playstyle very well, and their movement patterns flow almost more naturally than before on the spherical landscapes you fight on. The straight-moving arrow enemies wrap around the globe-like levels and criss-cross past each other, while the quick and sporadic square enemies sneak up on you from either side of the rotating stages. In addition to the classic geometrical enemies we've come to love/hate, there are a couple new enemies with unique behavior that spice up your old strategies.

The shapely structure to the stages that changes with each one gives a more strategic and tactical approach to the twin-stick formula forcing you to adapt to the area and its hazards each time, keeping certain players more engaged than before. Old schoolers will likely miss the euphoric rush and focused score attacks missing in this new iteration, but I've more than warmed up to it, come to terms with the differences and have found new excitement in taking my place on the boards for what is a different kind of game.

Geometry Wars 3 has the variation, gamified progression, and massive content that some people felt was missing from the originals but older fans will more than likely miss the pure and calculated arcade action as well as the minimalistic neon visuals that the first two were known for. While Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions may not bring the same-old-same-old that those fans were wanting, it does exactly what it's supposed to by pushing boundaries in the twin-stick medium and setting a new standard just as its predecessors did.

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