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Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions / 30th of November 2014

Bizarre Creations’ Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved first launched alongside the Xbox 360 console, where it quickly became synonymous with Xbox Live (it was exclusive, after all) and was singularly responsible for spearheading the rise of the Xbox Live Arcade and the twin-stick shooter genre, and quite rightly too, for it presented gamers with a fantastic arcade shooter experience that was incredibly simple to pick, yet infuriatingly impossible to put down. And now, despite the dissolution of series creators, Bizarre Creations, Activision (and its subsidiary, Sierra Online) have tasked developer, Lucid Games with continuing the hallmarks of this hugely popular series, and I think that it is fair to say, that they have achieved this with aplomb.

Returning players are likely to arrive feeling aggrieved, focusing entirely on the new features of the game; its three dimensional arenas and boss fights, yet they will be more than relieved to know that almost every game mode from Retro Evolved 2 has survived the transition, with the exception of Sequence. The new, higher price tag might also seem like a sticking point, yet with the return of the old content-given something of a facelift too-along with some wholly new modes and levels, Dimensions becomes a literal feast of manic point scoring goodness that is worth every penny of the asking price.

Dimensions features a new adventure mode that sees players journey across a fifty level campaign, an element carried across from the series’ foray onto the Wii and DS consoles, Galaxies; it can be brutally hard, but it’s certainly a welcome addition to this release, and it is here where players will discover the bulk of the new content. Super Stardust HD was an obvious pretender to the Geometry Wars crown, and in this iteration, Lucid Games have seemingly borrowed from the imitator by incorporating similarly styled three dimensional stages, though these, however, can be a tad hit and miss. Whilst they never wholly change the way that the game plays-they essentially break down each arena into smaller component parts whereupon the game essentially plays out in the same manner as before-I, personally, found that with all of the many visual effects being thrown about, along with large numbers of geometric shapes, they can become rather disorientating at times. Though this, you will likely be glad to know, is most certainly the weakest aspect of the game, because throughout, the stupendously addictive gameplay still shines through, making Dimensions a more than worthy entry into this fabulous series.

Across the fifty levels of the campaign, players will be tasked with competing in around ten or so different game modes, some of which are entirely new to the series, though all feel entirely unique, forcing the player to take different approaches to each, which is helped somewhat by the variety of drones that the player can take with them. After spending a little time with each, it is clear to see that players must quickly establish which drones are better suited to which modes of play, there is a definite element of strategy involved, and it only helps to add even more depth to an already succulent gaming package. Though personally, I’ve settled into using the collect drone to help me attract a few more geoms to increase my score multiplier, there have certainly been times when I wish I’d taken something to further boost my firepower.

Additionally, there are also a few super attacks to consider, from dropping mines, or launching homing missiles to opening up a devastating black hole, all of which-including the drones-can be levelled up to increase their effectiveness, giving every level a massive amount of replayability as players return to previous haunting grounds searching desperately for the three star rating that eludes them. It is stars, after all, that allow players to progress, by meeting set targets, the game opens up a whole new set of levels prior to the next intense boss challenge, so periodical returns to previous levels are certainly the order of the day. With such embellishments applied to the already established formula, there may be concerns that the sanctity of the online leader board may have been compromised, and yes, to a certain extent that is certainly true, but of course, for the purist, it will be the scores that they generate in the game’s other modes that will truly reflect their standing within the Dimensions community.

As I have previously mentioned, almost every game mode has made the transition from Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2, these comprise Dimensions’ Classic Mode, with each game type given a slight visual overhaul and some new music, returning fans may or may not appreciate these alterations, but personally, I seemed to enjoy them more than I had previously. There are also bonus levels that can be unlocked, these present two new challenges to players, and with them, more leader boards where one can show off those high scores, and really, isn’t that what gaming is really all about?

Multiplayer modes are present, as one would expect; local co-op allows for up to four players to play through a ten level campaign, these arenas can be frenetic and highly intense affairs, with player sharing a set number of lives and supers between them, it’s a great, and thoroughly welcome addition, but hardly where most players will be spending the bulk of their time. And likewise, the same can be said of the game’s online, competitive game modes, which only help to round out an almost flawless retro-styled slice of gaming greatness.

Geometry Wars: Dimensions was a game that I had little expectation for, and yet I have been rather impressed by Lucid Games’ handling of it, creating a worthy successor to what was an almost perfect game in Retro Evolved 2. Taking the established formula of Robotron 2084 and making it more than just relevant, but also somehow futuristic, it is fair enough to say that if this is the shape of things to come for the twin-stick shooter, then it still has a  very bright future ahead of it indeed.

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