The explosive battle of shapes shoots into the third dimension with flying neon colors.
Geometry Wars took gaming marketplaces by storm a few years ago with its simple yet high-octane twin-stick gameplay paired with explosively satisfying visuals. Dimensions applies these same gameplay mechanics to a series of differently shaped three-dimensional surfaces, creating a completely new and exciting dynamic for the franchise. From the standard boxed-off surface to spherical, Super Stardust-inspired maps, and even some peanut-shaped levels, Geometry Wars: Dimensions blasts the series to the next level by boldly experimenting with its new-found realm of endless possibilities.
Standard Geometry Wars gameplay consists of shooting up enemies for points and collecting little green gems called geoms left in their wake to exponentially increase your score multiplier. While previous titles in the franchise featured these core arcade mechanics on an unassuming 2D plain, Dimensions‘ 3D maps introduce a new level of variety, making every level a unique and challenging experience. Playing one-life Evolved mode on a cubic map? Make sure to watch as you wrap around corners. First time on a peanut-shaped level? Stick to the ends and shower bullets on all sides. Playing Deadline on a cylinder? Just shoot along the curve and watch your projectiles spiral. Every map behaves differently based on its shape and featured game mode, allowing for an exciting and unique experience with each new level.
Map/game-mode variants are presented to the player through an “adventure mode” of fifty levels. Classic Geometry Wars game modes such as Deadline (reach the par score before time runs out) and Evolved (reach par with limited lives) make a return, while new modes like Rainbow (stop enemies from painting the entire map) and Sniper (limited ammo) add to Dimensions’ seemingly endless bag of tricks. My personal favorite mode was Claustrophobia, wherein enemies rapidly multiply and threaten to enclose the player in deadly baddies. With the vast breadth of levels offered and a multitude of playlists to choose from, I found myself enthralled time and time again by each new action-packed level and compelled to keep coming back for the three-star rank.
Also new to the franchise are drones. These equipable companions feature differing abilities to assist you in battling the shape-ridden madness. While some offer simple perks like backup firepower or playing human shield, others play more tactical roles, like autonomously collecting stray geoms, or ramming nearby enemies. As you advance through adventure mode, stars earned can be exchanged for drone upgrades, further intensifying their abilities. Unfortunately, with the exception of the Miner (collects geoms) and the Attacker (backup firepower), I found most of these drones to be inconsequential until fully upgraded, which takes getting through most of the standard levels.
Though the variety factor puts Dimensions at the top of twin-stick shooters, it can occasionally be its downfall. With so many mixes and matches of level designs with differing game modes, some results feel more like superfluous experimentation and less like masterful game design. I found myself frustratingly stumped by some of these combinations, and only managed to surpass them by endless repetition and eventual chance, rather than tactical mastery. However, with the bulk of content given, I find it hard to focus on these exceptions; outside of Adventure Mode, Dimensions also features Ultimate Mode (a series of compelling levels with odd and challenging level and enemy designs), multiplayer, and Hardcore Mode (which strips you of your drones, making for a more pure and challenging Geometry Wars experience). And of course, like all previous titles before it, any and all old-school game modes are made available in their own Classic playlist.
With its fast-paced, exciting and demanding gameplay presented with sleek and reactive visuals, Geometry Wars was already a renowned masterpiece of arcade-like game design. Dimensions‘ logical and progressive step into the third dimension not only adds to the already intense experience; it kicks the game into hyperdrive and unleashes its full potential to an endless realm of possibilities. I have already dedicated hours of my life to this explosive battle of shapes and neon, and I will willingly surrender many more in my quest to gain three stars on each and every level. A small few results of the new experimentation can be frustrating, and the new drone system often feels underwhelming, but with its wealth of content and ceaseless inspiration, there can be no denying that Dimensions is the best Geometry Wars title yet.