Review: Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions (PS4)

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Title: Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions
Format: PlayStation Network Download (152 MB)
Release Date: November 25, 2014
Publisher: Sierra Entertainment
Developer: Lucid Games
Original MSRP: $14.99 (US), €14.99 (EU), £13.99 (UK) *This is not a Cross-Buy title.
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 3
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions is also available on PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Steam. *This is not a Cross-Buy title.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

In the 80’s we would huddle around a single console taking turns trying to beat the top score on the leaderboards or venture into town and pummel an insane amount of coins into an arcade cabinet in the hope of beating the best player in the area. Flash forward to today with the far reaching internet and the leaderboard isn’t for the local town with a hundred or so players but a global list of thousands upon thousands.

To avoid the potentially daunting and overwhelming list burying your score amongst a deluge of unknown players there is normally a separate friends list that hearkens back to the good old days and pits you against people you know. But for some strange reason there are still a ton of games without either of these boards, and their potential is never fully realized.

Gameplay:
I can happily write that Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions has an excellent leaderboard system. Directly from the level select screen it instantly shows you the global ranking and how you rate among your friends with the ability to also see a full leaderboard. After each game your score will be displayed and every friend you managed to beat will dissolve into the ether in a very satisfying way. How do you achieve these friend beating scores you ask? Well, Geometry Wars has always been a simple game to play but to master it, it takes a bucketload of practice and skill.

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Geometry Wars 3 is a twin stick shooter that pits you against simple colored shapes. You control a fast but extremely fragile ship, one touch to an enemy craft or hazardous barrier instantly destroys it and you lose a life. Every time you destroy an enemy a little green diamond is left behind, these objects are called “Geoms” and when collected, add to your score multiplier. Grabbing the tiny green treasures can be quite difficult at times as they quickly fade away. On top of that the amount of enemies on-screen can become insane so backtracking to scavenge isn’t always that easy.

There are many different types of enemies in this game each with their own distinct color and shape. Some float around the screen oblivious to your presence, others charge at you. One type breaks apart when fired upon sending the debris hurtling around the point of impact. Another enemy swarms together and charges at your lone ship, until you begin shooting at them, at which point the cowards try to flee in every direction bouncing and tumbling around screen.

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Every single enemy killed adds to your score and each Geom you collect along the way increases the multiplier. This means your total can reach into the millions unless you lose a life which also resets the multiplier. When this happens every enemy vanishes leaving your killer alone on the screen, frozen at the point of impact. This helps diminish any confusion as to your death but also feels like a slightly sardonic reminder of your incompetence.

A nice feature is the ability to instantly try again when the level ends from your death. Oh, did I forget to mention you usually only get one life per level? Being able to quickly jump back in and try again helps with the ‘just one more try’ addictive nature that this game brilliantly promotes. Even more so when you get close to beating a friends score or finally find the best setup for that particular level.

As the game progresses you gain XP and slowly unlock a Drone or sidekick, these fly alongside you helping out in different ways. You have one that defends your rear, another that slowly but accurately snipes enemies. My favourite is called Attack and it shoots in the same direction as you basically adding to your firepower. There is even one that only darts about collecting Geoms for you. All of these can be upgraded and you’ll need their help to beat the three star ranking on each level and the devilishly hard bosses.

When I eventually tore myself away from the single player adventure mode I was happy to see a Classic mode with five old level types from previous games. I had a few quick goes on each but held back as I could have very easily been lost down the score chasing hole of Waves Classic and the evil King Classic levels.

For me Geometry Wars 3 has become the pinnacle of its series. The developers have refined a great game and somehow made it better adding new twists and dynamics without losing the core appeal. At its core this is still the same game as the original Geometry Wars just better in every way.

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Visuals:
A tranquil blue aurora washes over the level select screen with soft lines gently moving about the background as if floating in the emptiness of space. Then you load a level and are greeted with flashes of red and orange streaks of color darting around the screen as the dark black play area emerges into view as if being built by an ominous supercomputer. Your ship pushes through and emits a soft glow of light against the darkness. Everything that moves about the dark play area causes it to dip and undulate as if it were an ocean of squares bound together by logic and order. There is a truly simplistic mathematical beauty to this game that pulls you in and drowns you in its algorithmic depths.

The previous games in the series only had two dimensional flat levels with you and the enemies confined to a simple area within a single screen. This time it keeps the single screen but often mixes up the play area. It now has you battling on three dimensional shapes like an oblong or peanut while still retaining the simplicity the series is famed for.

The action rarely lets up with a brain-achingly large amount of enemies bursting onto the screen. A bright assortment of colors bombard your senses with hundreds of enemies all bent on your digital demise, it’s a good thing the levels are quick as I could swear I don’t blink the entire time.

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Audio:
Just like the visual department the developers crafted a selection of tunes that are all perfectly designed to get your heart pumping and push your senses to the brink of insanity. I love the tunes in this game and I always want to crank up the volume.

A nice feature is when you lose a life or set off a bomb, the music and sounds seem to briefly get absorbed leaving a moment of deafening silence before everything kicks back in.

Online/Multiplayer:
Geometry Wars 3 has a great, almost perfect, leaderboard system that compliments the quick and addictive brilliance of the game. I continually scour the levels checking if any of my friends have managed to edge past me. The only thing I would have liked is some kind of notification of beaten scores when starting the single player mode. But we can’t have everything can we.

Online features two modes, Stock and Summoner. You can play in an open matchmaking lobby or setup a private game for either mode. Inviting friends is quick and easy but strangely you cannot set up a lobby and then pick which mode to play. As soon as you leave the lobby to change modes your friends are gone and have to be reinvited.

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Stock has two teams each trying to kill a boss and build up their score. Ammo is limited and has to be picked up and shared among your teammates with the press of a button. I quickly became bored by this mode. Summoner on the other hand is a lot of fun, even with just one person on each team. Just like Stock a random level loads but instead of going after a boss you have two or more towers. Shooting at these towers spawns enemies for you and your team to kill. The more you shoot at the tower the more enemies it releases. If the other team claims a tower, they get the enemies to kill instead of you. So this becomes a mad race not just to claim towers and keep them but to also steal the other towers.

How both of these modes avoid the screen becoming a mess of enemies, players, and their gunfire is to not show any of it except the other player’s ships and your own enemies. You don’t even see them shooting, just moving around the level. It looks a little strange but it’s understandable.

On the couch co-op is a different story altogether. Up to four players share the same screen and shoot at the same enemies. This mode has its own set of levels designed for a few players but still becomes a crazy onslaught to the senses and on one or two occasions it was difficult to know where my own ship was. It’s still worth playing and a nice addition to the game.

Conclusion:
It might take a while to master this brilliant and addictive game. Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions is the defining culmination of pure simplistic fun and addiction in game form. This will keep your reflexes sharp and your score chasing desires fulfilled, that is if you can handle the bombardment to your senses.

Score:
9.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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