Geometry Wars holds a special place in my heart, as the original was an unexpected surprise that managed to resurrect my interest in twin-stick shooters singlehandedly, by combining fantastic gameplay with an amazing aesthetic and brilliant soundtrack.
It’s been six years since we last saw the series, and I was excited to see where it was going to take me this time. And while not all of its changes are for the better, it’s safe to say that Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions is a welcome addition to the new consoles’ lineup.
For those of you who are new to the Geometry Wars series, it’s a pretty simple design. In fact, this is about as pure as a video game can really get. The general premise is that you’re going to blow up as many enemies as possible to get the highest score possible with some sort of time constraint or life limit. It really doesn’t get much more basic than that at the end of the day, and the formula still works really well if it’s handled by people who know what they’re doing.
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions liberally takes from its predecessors in order to expand upon them, which means that all of your favorite enemies and gimmicks are going to be mixed in left and right. While your more standard modes are still king, you’re not going to be able to escape game modes such as Pacifism or King. Even in these modes, the mentality is still the same: destroy enemies, collect the geoms they drop to raise your multiplier, and rack up the largest score possible.
The big twist this time around is that many of the levels are 3D. The normally flat game boards have been dumped in favor of more abstract forms, ranging from your standard spheres and cubes to long tube-like stages. It may seem like a subtle change at first, but it completely changes the way the game plays.
With the old closed-off stages, you could easily keep track of enemies and spend a few minutes herding them into the perfect position like a glowing neon corgi of sorts, but now the entire level is very likely to rotate with you. For the most part, this works out really well and adds a great sense of depth to the game, but it can lead to cheap deaths and frustration. Some of the non-conventional level designs have the added issue where the camera gets “stuck” at odd angles since it’s locked to the angle of the map. Having some sort of ability to reset the camera would have been a godsend.
The other major addition to the formula is the 50-stage adventure campaign, though this is also one of the weaker spots of the game. You’ll play through a series of levels before encountering a boss of some sort, and unlock drones along the way. My massive complaint here is that Lucid Games seems to be another developer who confuses “content” with making a full game. In each stage, you can earn up to three stars based on your score, and you’ll need a set amount to progress past certain bosses. I know other games have done this, but this always has struck me as a cheap way of milking more hours out of a game. If I haven’t earned the right to meet the boss, don’t let me progress that far.
The drones that you’ll find can be upgraded using some of the countless geoms you’ve collected along the way, and each one offers a nice little tool to help you progress. Being able to have a little buddy who’s willing to literally run headfirst into your enemies is a huge help, especially as the levels become swamped with geometric foes.
There are also two different types of multiplayer to be found here. Co-op allows for up to four players to tear through the level and essentially play the same game albeit with combined scores at the end. It’s a lot of fun with a few friends, but I would have liked to have seen more than 11 maps. On the other hand, the online portions do offer a competitive mode where you can fight for control of a few towers on the map or simply try to rack up a higher score. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but then again, I really doubt anyone will buy this game for online multiplayer.
Aesthetically, Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions is just as beautiful as you’d expect. The bright colors absolutely pop at 1080p and the 60 FPS really helps the game feel smooth. Even with the multitude of particle effects in play, we never noticed any significant frame rate drops. I know it’s not as complicated as some other titles, but it’s always good to see games hit what should really be considered the absolute bare minimum for the industry now.
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions is a great way to bring the franchise to the new generation of consoles. It made a few missteps with some of its levels, and the imaginary stopgaps that slow you down in the adventure mode really shouldn’t have been there, but overall, I definitely enjoyed my time with the game.
This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game, which we were provided with.
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions isn’t a perfect representation of the formula, but at the end of the day, it’s still a lot of fun.