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Xbox Live Arcade Review: Geometry Wars

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Every console needs a showcase title, and rather oddly, for the Xbox 360, that could be the $5 Geometry Wars. While photo-realism is a wonderful thing, rainbow colored particle effects can be just as impressive. This dual analog shooter shows why the majority of your time spent with the Xbox 360 could be in the Live Arcade.

The concept of basing an entire game around a graphical special effect is a dangerous one. In the case of Geometry Wars, that’s okay. There’s no need to dive into a story or look for an explanation. You’re trapped inside a small square and a variety of shapes are attempting to kill you. That’s it, and it feels like something Asteroids wanted to be back in 1979, but the limited technology didn’t allow for it.

Geometry Wars carries with it the subtitle of Retro Evolved. That’s perfect, as this is a video game based around nothing but high scores. The Achievement Point system makes sure you try some different things. However, aside from that, you’ll need to keep your wits and pay close attention. This is the style of gameplay that makes you feel like a professional as you glide through armadas of foes–thanks in part to the smooth controls that only analog sticks could provide.

While the hardcore crowd may frown, this is a title all about the graphics. Every connected bullet produces an array of colored sparks. It’s a dazzling showcase of the systems power, and it never once enters into a 3-D world. It’s also the game’s sole downfall.

Buried beneath the graphical splendor is the gameplay. Death usually comes from the blinding display of sparks that cover your ship and every enemy. Nothing is more frustrating than losing 20-minutes of record setting playtime due to a small blue block clipping your ship because you were never able to see them enter the fray.

Still, Geometry War’s scoring system makes up for it, and brings with it the hook that every Xbox Live Arcade game should: addictiveness. The longer you’re alive, the higher your scoring multiplier. Coupled with the intensity of the game, this creates the mix of elements that combine to make this the guaranteed classic it is. You’re not staying alive to see what comes next. You’re weaving between shapes to secure the right to blast them away with a 10x bonus attached.

While the demo system for the Live Arcade will end up hurting titles that don’t quite work out as planned, that feature is in place solely to introduce more people to games like this. Geometry Wars is brilliant, and for the meager $5 price tag (which also secures you a copy of the original title from the first Xbox), it’s the easiest no-brainer for the Arcade. Some form of multi-player would make this the ultimate twitch shooter.

Geometry Wars is a rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB.


Edited: [GH]

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.