Saturday, February 16, 2008

Geometry Wars Galaxies: α clear

I must admit, I never really clicked with Geometry Wars (included within PGR2) or its sequel on the 360. It always seemed a little too hectic, and there was far too much to learn - which enemies did what, how the multiplier system worked, how to maximise points, how to use black holes. It was, I'll readily admit, more my fault than the game's, but there was far too much thrown at you straight away to let you get to grips with it. I never bought the Xbox Live Arcade game - I just played the game within PGR3.

So I don't know why I bought Geometry Wars Galaxies. It might have been the cheap price. It might have been the praise it was getting online. It might have been just because I fancied a quick shooter session and I was out and about. Whatever it was, I'm glad that I did - it's brilliant.

One of my main concerns with the original game(s) was the lack of structure. It all felt very random, and I never got the feeling that there was a set wave pattern to the enemies. In this game not only are there many different levels, with defined goals and objectives, but it's clear that the appearance of the enemies and timing of their attacks has been tightly designed. I've played a couple of the levels through more than once and scores benefitted through understanding how the enemy's attacks were structured ... though not to the extent of, say R-Type, where you can move your ship to avoid or attack enemies well before they come onto the screen. There's still an element of flying by the seat of your pants - only partially alleviated by the presence of a drone which tries its best to help you out.

The structure of the game works well too. When you destroy enemies, they release geoms which you must then collect. These geoms, along with any bonus ones you're awarded for collecting a medal on a stage, are then used to unlock behaviours for your drone (one of which is to send it to collect the geoms for you) and new levels. Collecting geoms and defeating enemies also increases your multiplier. This introduction of geoms fundamentally changes the way the game plays - you need to chase enemies down so that you can collect the geoms once they're destroyed, whereas my previous tactic was to run away while firing behind me.

I've cleared the first stage with a gold medal and the second stages with silvers (therefore completing the first level). I think I'll set myself a limit of silvers before I progress - though I have a feeling this might get a lot harder than it currently is ...

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