Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Review for PC- A Worthwhile Deviation

Developer: Lucid Games
Publisher: Sierra
Release Date: November 26, 2014
Platform: [PC] (Microsoft Windows, OS X, GNU/Linux) PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation Vita
Price: $ 14.99

Originally published as a mini-game within Project Gotham Racing 2, Geometry Wars’ combination of accessible mechanics, and harsh, but not impossible difficulty curve, gave it a surprisingly addictive appeal.

Now, with the return of the Sierra publishing label, Lucid Games looks to push the twin stick shooter forward to new dimensions, literally and metaphorically.

For fans of previous entries in the series, you will be happy to know that everything previously found in Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved is here, including the score multiplier mechanic, which compelled players to actively take out enemies in huge pockets of waves instead of avoiding them. The varied enemy types, playfields, and challenges also make a full-swing return.

 

If you’ve seen the trailers, you would already know the main draw of the game is the new 3D graphics. You can rest assured, the game now looks that much more amazing, with minimum impact to gameplay.

The illuminated effect found in older games is enhanced here, to a degree that makes the game world burst with life. It’s something else watching the emanating rays that indicate enemies coming in glow brightly on your screen. It is really hard to describe this in a way that does it justice, and truthfully, even these screenshots aren’t good enough either, Enemies and weapons remain recognizable, such as the pinwheels, worms, and gravity wells.

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The enhanced graphics does not hinder performance. In fact, the new polygonal models, which seem to be pre-rendered, which doesn’t really require that much power system-wise (worked just fine on my Intel HD Integrated Graphics laptop), makes the world of Geometry Wars shine. You won’t be so awed that it distracts from gameplay, but it definitely feels like a step forward from the faux-vector graphics look of Retro Evolved.

But, the 3D aspect of the game is not just for show.

For instance, when you start playing 3D model playfields, like spheres and sausages, you’ll realize that your shots, affected by gravity, reach all visible field vectors. This means two things:

  • You can take out enemies you don’t see using some planning and smart hunches, and
  • You will have to deal with enemies that come at you seemingly from nowhere, stalking you from the edges of the playfield.

The game has two main modes: Classic and Adventure. Most Classic modes use the same waveform shaped map, somewhat simulating the experience of Retro Evolved.

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Under Classic Mode, you have:

  • Deadline

You have three minutes to raise as high of a score as you can.

  • King

This was a mode originally introduced in Retro Evolved 2. There are circles, called king zones, that pop up in the playfield. You have to enter a zone to attack incoming enemies, and they shrink and disappear upon use. In essence, this mode is all about controlling tight spaces and attrition.

  • Evolved

This is the closest to Retro Evolved in terms of ruleset. You start out with three lives, and three bombs, and you can earn more of both by raising your points.

  • Pacifism

This one presents a unique challenge suited for players who have mastered maneuvering. You can’t shoot enemies, and instead have to take them out by passing through gates in their vicinity. You will have to make sure you don’t hit enemies when you approach or pass through them.

  • Waves

Finally, this one is the most brutal of all the modes. You get one life and no bombs, to take on wave after wave of enemies. Your only goal is to last as long as you can.

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Adventure Mode is the equivalent of the main story mode found in Geometry Wars Galaxies. Whereas that game had you take on several galaxies of planets, in Dimensions the different levels are laid out in 3d blocks that move up and down as you scroll across them.

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Each level can correspond to one of the aforementioned modes, and adds others, such as maze mode and boss mode. You can play to reach a certain score in a certain timeframe, or try to reach a score with only one life.

Adventure Mode is definitely not for the faint hearted, but for true blue fans of arcade shooters past, it will afford you hours of play. The game also features local coop and online multiplayer, with their own maps and challenges.

If you’re picking this up on Steam, I have three pieces of good news for you. One is that the system requirements  are quite low. As I mentioned, it will work with an IntelHD integrated graphics card, although it won’t go below Windows 7. It also works with Mac OS X Maverick and Yosemite, as well as Steam OS/Ubuntu 14.04.

Note that you may find mileage varies for Linux, depending on what Linux OS you use.

The second good news is that Lucid Games has added a high amount of compatibility for control schemes for the game. For the PC version, you can use:

  • Keyboard and/or mouse & keyboard, including for Apple
  • DualShock 3 and DualShock 4 wireless controllers
  • Xbox 360 wireless and Xbox One wired controllers
  • Any DirectInput controller

I can personally vouch, being that I’m using a rather aged Phoenix Gamester Revolution with a USB adapter to play it. However, the game recognized it instantly, automatically mapping the controls accordingly.

For the keyboard, you use the WSAD keys to move, and you can opt to use the mouse or the arrow keys to shoot.

The third good news, which is really great, is that these multiple control schemes will come in handy for local multiplayer. The way the game uses controls, one player can use the keyboard, and another a game controller, for local co-op. As long as you have a friend and another controller, you can use that mode. It maxes out at four players, so if you have a few controllers lying around, it’s enough to hold a Geometry Wars 3 party! And there is a setting to adapt the game  to Party Mode.

Final Score: 8.5/10

Geometry Wars takes a step forward with Galaxies, and raises the bar on content, but it’s not enough of a change to be considered a dramatic evolution of the franchise. One could even say it feels more like a deviation, although it remains to be seen if fans will accept this as the new normal or clamor for a sequel with the original aesthetics.

If you’ve played Geometry Wars before, in whatever incarnation, this one is worth your time, and you’ll want to tell your friends. If you weren’t into it before, you certainly won’t be won over today, although you might like the flashier graphics. There were additional points added to the overall scoring, being that the controls spanned more than the most-current Steam generation, providing accessibility to any PC gamer, regardless of OS or available control options.

Buy Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions here.

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