Sometimes the simple things are the best.
Beneath the simple graphics is an addictive 2-D blaster
From the days of the humble ZX Spectrum and calling your friends on a mobile brick, technology has advanced in leaps and bounds. DVD killed the video star, Blu-Ray and HD repeatedly smothered salt in the wound, and now three gaming mega-machines are locked in marketing warfare to determine the best of the seventh generation consoles. And in this golden age of silky-smooth graphics and increasingly inventive ways to play, I never believed I’d see a game where you battle an endless swarm of spaghetti-shape baddies in a 2-D spaceship. On first glance it may not seem in any way special, yet there is something about Geometry Wars: Galaxies that will keep you coming back for more.
If you’re expecting an immersive storyline, you’ve got the wrong idea. From the minute you hear that arcade-style music, you’ll realise this is a true retro blaster at heart. Yes, you could just race through the 60 levels to reach the end, but the real challenge is to master each and every stage, earning an elusive gold medal and setting your own high scores.
Admittedly, after playing it for the first time I immediately opened my thesaurus to the ‘well, it was ok,’ pages.
It wasn’t until work the next day that it started.
I still have no idea what my manager was talking about in that meeting. I spent the whole time doodling spaceships and counting down to five o’clock, when I’d be able to go home and try ‘one more time’ to beat that bloody score. I didn’t know how, I didn’t know why, but within 24 hours I’d become addicted. After a closer investigation, I put this down to a number of features, starting with the control system.
As well as its comedic name, the Wii is best known for its unique controllers that help give this retro throwback an exciting modern twist. Gamers use the Wii remote to aim whilst simultaneously weaving between the lines with the nunchuk. And though this may take a little practise, it makes the gameplay perfectly fluid and the action enjoyably frantic.
There are also certain features within the game that make it more appealing for today’s market: the main example being the drone that loyally accompanies your ship. Before each mission, you can decide how the drone behaves, such as attacking the enemy or simply collecting the bonuses they drop, allowing you continually change your strategy. For each setting the drone will also gain experience, adding a levelling-up element to the game and giving you a reason to revisit older levels, rather than simply moving forward.
And whichever direction you take, it’s unlikely you’ll get bored as each stage has its own special set of hazards. In particular, my favourite involves flying in a circular arena while the enemies are swirled around by a giant wormhole. The minute you start shooting its like you’re trapped in a giant disco washing machine.
There are also a wide variety of enemies to keep you entertained, each with their own patterns of behaviour; from arrowheads that drunkenly swagger towards you, to vortexes that guzzle down any nearby foes until they blow a homing mass of cosmic chunks.
However, there are moments when the attempt to modernise the game have done nothing but make it increasingly frustrating. You cannot deny that the spaceship and the enemies could have easily been made on Paint. Therefore, as if to justify this game being released on the Wii, the developers have thrown in some excessive explosions and ripple effects whenever you pull the trigger. Before you know it, you’re flying blind somewhere beneath a massive nebula of fancy patterns and colours. Even worse, there are times when you realise you’ve just spent the best part of 10 minutes shooting at that blasted drone after mistaking it for the enemy?again.
On the other hand, the game does make some good use of the Wii’s online capabilities. For example, players can compete against other gamers from around the world by uploading their scores to a global leaderboard.
Also, any DS owners can link up and download a special version of the game: Retro Evolved. However, considering that this is just the same game but without the drone, without the interesting levels, and without the medal targets, it’s about as much fun in comparison as bungee jumping but without the cord.
Overall, don’t judge Geometry Wars: Galaxies from the back of the box, because beneath the simple graphics is an addictive 2-D blaster. It may not be something that you’ll want to play hour after hour, but the original controls, varied levels and levelling-up element will keep you coming back every day for that little bit more.
The Bad: Some of the more modern graphic effects can overpower the rest of the game, making it frustrating at times. And although it is fun to play in short bursts, it’s unlikely you’ll want to play it hour after hour.