Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Review
The Geometry Wars series is one dear to my heart, with the first standalone game in the series being the first game on Xbox Live to be truly worth a purchase, and arguably the most important game on the platform. The second game is, in my opinion, one of the best games on the Xbox 360, and an essential experience for any owner of the console.
The third game, Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions, is the first cross-platform release, and had a significantly larger amount of resources invested in it based on the success of its predecessors. It contains the biggest changes to the series to date; individual levels, three-dimensional arenas (hence the title) and boss battles.
So does it manage to meet the standard expected? Or does it suffer from over-complication of a series that mastered the benefits of simplicity? Let’s find out…
Production values: Geometry Wars 3’s budget was considerably greater than its predecessors, and the extra resources pay off in spades in terms of presentation and amount of content.
All of the classic game modes from the originals are here, but the main feature of the game comes in the form of the brand new adventure mode, with over 100 unique levels to play through. Each level has a specific goal, whether it be to survive as long as possible, accumulate as many points as possible, or sometimes a mix of the two.
I was skeptical at first coming in as a big fan of the originals, in which the charm laid in the simplicity of playing one single mode over and over, chasing the high score. But thankfully the level system works really well, with a star rating for each level giving you reason to replay them.
Progressing through the levels also allows you to unlock upgrades for your ship (more on that in a second), and every few levels there’s a boss-fight. Not every level/mode is great, as with over 100 there was bound to be some duds, but on the whole it provides a great experience.
Other elements of the game also benefit from the extra budget, with sleek menus, and fantastic graphics and soundtrack.
Controls: Thankfully the developers resisted the temptation to make things over-complicated in the controls department, recognising that the originals’ success lay in their simplicity and accessibility of the twin-stick control scheme.
Your ship feels great to handle, using one stick to move and the other to fire, and people familiar with the originals will pick it up in no time. It crucially retains the depth in terms of being easy to pick up but tricky to master, and the skill ceiling is high; you’ll be amazed at how much better you get the more you play.
Graphical update: I touched on it above, but the game really does look a treat.
The new 3D levels are a huge upgrade from the flat plains of the previous games; playing on a sphere or a cube brings a new element of skill to the game too, as you can no longer see every enemy on-screen at once.
The explosions and enemies all look great, being vivid and distinct enough so that you don’t lose track of them with so much going on, and crucially the game runs at a flawless 60FPS, on both current-gen and older generation consoles.
Co-op: Geometry Wars 2 showed that multiplayer Geometry Wars is a good thing. Thankfully, the developers have gone the extra mile with co-op in GW3, crafting an entirely separate co-op campaign specifically designed for 2 players.
It’s a great supplement to the main mode, and Lucid Games deserve plaudits for going the extra mile and crafting a unique co-op experience.
Supers: I’ve said it several times already – the success of a Geometry Wars game lives and dies on the simplicity of the controls. For the most part GW3 gets it right, but with the addition of Supers, things err on the side of complexity a little too much.
Supers are additional perks you unlock as you go through the adventure mode, acting as upgrades that enhance your ability to play. Some of them give you a temporary shield, others collect geoms for you as you play, and some provide extra firepower.
They are fun, but they serve to negate the purity of the game, and somewhat dilute the fun of high-score chasing.
Retro modes a mixed bag: For some reason, the re-made retro modes just don’t feel quite as good in the new engine as they did in the original games. Maybe it’s because the fire-rate is slightly different, or it could be a purely subjective thing on account of me being used to the originals and their respective modes, but something feels a little off about them.
Levels restricted to specific modes: It’s a shame that some levels in the Adventure can’t be played in different game modes. For example, Pacificsm can’t be played on every map. It’s not a huge deal as there is so much content, but a shame nonetheless.
Bosses: The bosses in the game are an original idea and an interesting concept, but they simply don’t quite work in Geometry Wars. It’s understandable why they added them, but hammering shots into a bullet sponge just doesn’t suit the fast and reflex-driven gameplay that the game thrives on.
Music: The soundtrack isn’t terrible, but it’s not particularly memorable either. Again, the weight of the game’s predecessors makes this game suffer, as the bar has been set high for music in the series.
Geometry Wars 3 is, for the most part, a successful step for the franchise from indie quirkiness to AAA territory. It’s a must for fans of the first two, and also serves as a decent starting point for people new to the series. The 3D levels are a fantastic development, and the controls are as tight as ever. Heartily recommended.