|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Bizarre Creations Ltd.||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 30, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The first mode you'll start with is Deadline, which is very standard. Your objective is to get as high a score as possible in three minutes. After that, you can step up to King mode - an inventive concept based around zones. Stripped of your bombs, you can only fire when your ship enters a color-designated circle. Once inside the circle, you're protected from enemies - they can't enter the zone and you can fire away. However, the zone only lasts a few seconds, so you have to move to the next one. That's where trouble comes along: When switching zones, you can't fire, so you're at risk. And, since you only have one life, one slip up is all it takes to end the game.
Evolved is another simple mode. You only have four lives and three bombs, with more lives and bombs available at predetermined point areas (you'll get your first extra life at 100,000 points). Pacifism mixes things up. You can't use your blaster and have no bombs. The only way to kill enemies is to lure a fleet near a gate. Once you pass through the gate a small explosion fires, destroying nearby enemy craft. Waves mode goes back to a more straightforward approach. Enemies come at you in distinct formations, and you have to clear a path through all the chaos. The final mode - Sequence - has a level structure. You're given 30 seconds to beat each of the 20 levels. You can die, but then the level is counted as incomplete.
Tying together the arcade package is the multiplayer. You can play all the modes with up to three others locally in individual or two-on-two scoring-based matches or segment the play so one player pilots the ship and the other shoots. There are also power-ups like speed boosts and damage increases. The only downside to this is that it's all local. There is no play over Xbox LIVE. It could be argued that the game is meant to be played with all your friends in the same room, but the inclusion of net play would have been nice.
Aside from the omission of online play, the only other complaint that can be leveled against Retro Evolved 2 is the crushing difficulty. This is not a game that takes time to ease players into the swing of things. On your first try, in many of the modes, you'll die within 30 seconds. Like many arcade games, the best way to improve is to continually play. While the challenge present may scare away more casual players, the more hardcore will call it a blessing in disguise.
Even with all the chaos going on, you can still appreciate the fireworks display. Retro Evolved 2 runs at a higher resolution (1080p) than the past game and never suffers from any framerate problems. The simple touches - such as the gravity wells that look like psychedelic kaleidoscopes - are what make the game. Joining the bright, wire frame graphical style is the techno soundtrack. The thumping bass notes and fast tempo complement the quick pace of play nicely.
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 is a must buy for dual-stick shooter fans. The sharp difficulty, new modes, and low price point ($10) add up to a game that's hard to turn down.
CCC Freelance Writer