Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Review: The Natural Evolution of Retro Evolved 2

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Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions had a lot to live up to. The last game in the series, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2, dethroned Smash TV as the standard bearer of the twin-stick shooter genre. And the first game in the franchise, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved, was considered by many to be the Xbox 360’s killer app for the first year. But Lucid Games proved to be more than up to the task with an excellent new entry in the series. After the closure of Bizarre Creations (the creator of Retro Evolved and Retro Evolved 2), Lucid became the new home for multiple members of the Geometry Wars development team. So we probably shouldn’t have been worried at all.

Platforms: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 (Version Played), Xbox One
Publisher: Sierra Games
Developer: Lucid Games
Genre: Technicolor Twin-Stick Shooter… IN 3D!
Release Date: November 25, 2014
ESRB Rating: Everyone

geometrywars3-boxGeometry Wars 3: Dimensions looks a bit different, but it will be instantly familiar to anyone who has played the previous two games in the series. Instead of a flat grid, the majority of the game boards in Dimensions are built around three-dimensional objects like spheres, cubes, and cylinders. This means that your ship can now completely circumvent the playing field instead of being restrained by a series of guard rails (though there are a number of flat levels as well). This change opens up the playing field and feels less like a radical departure for the franchise and more like a natural evolution. At first, it’s a little disorienting to go right up to the edge of the game board and then magically circle around to the other side, but I got into the Geometry Wars groove soon enough.

The second major change to Dimensions is the addition of an Adventure Mode that features 50 levels with their own unique win conditions (as well as a few boss battles). Most of these levels are based on familiar gameplay modes from Retro Evolved 2, including Deadline (score as many points as possible within the time limit), Evolved (score as many points as possible with only one life), King (shooting is only allowed in special safe zones), and Pacifism (shooting is disabled and enemies must be killed with exploding gates). Several new battle modes round out the Adventure Mode, including Claustrophobia (walls close in on the grid until you’re crushed), Sniper (bullets are limited), Titan (bigger enemies must be broken down into smaller enemies to proceed), Rainbow (rollers repaint the grid and you must stop them), and Checkpoint (enemies appear in waves that must be dispatched to extend the time limit), riff on the same ideas while being unique in their own way.

Finally, Lucid adds a third wrinkle to Dimensions with the inclusion of Drones, Supers, and Super States. Each of these powerups adds an augmentation to your ship and changes the game in a big way. A Drone companion may collect distant Geoms or add a second gun to your ship, while a Super is a single-use item that builds on the screen-clearing Smart Bomb with a unique attack, like a spinning turret or a series of homing missiles. Super States are temporary powerups that add a little more pop to your guns (and which I had initially forgotten were part of Retro Evolved as well). Like with the game’s 3D grids, I was initially uncomfortable with all these additions to the simplicity the Geometry Wars series is known for. But as I added hour after hour to my game clock, I had a hard time letting them go when I dipped back into Classic Mode, which resurrects most of Retro Evolved 2’s gameplay modes without all the extras Lucid added to Dimensions.

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As something of a connoisseur of twin-stick shooters, I’ve always loved it when developers kept things simple. But the new pieces added to Dimensions feel like more than just tick marks on a feature list. As I said before, they are a natural evolution for the franchise. Now I can’t imagine playing without Drones or Supers. I heartily enjoyed the boss battles in all their controller-flinging glory. And the three-dimensional look, instead of being the distraction I worried it would be, seems like the perfect extension of the new direction that Dimensions has taken the series.

Rather than cluttering up the simplistic joy of Retro Evolved 2, Lucid’s additions have opened up new ways to have fun with a Geometry Wars game. These changes only enhance the heavily stylized technicolor chaos the franchise is known for. And I know that in the weeks and months to come I’ll be trying different combinations of Drones and Supers to earn every three-star rating in the game and battle my way up the Leaderboards.

Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions is more than worthy of carrying the Geometry Wars name, and it stands as one of 2014’s best. Fans of the franchise (and twin-stick shooters in general) will ignore it at their own peril. If you haven’t already, I recommend downloading it on your platform of choice right now. This goes double for PlayStation owners, who have never had a chance to experience a Geometry Wars game until now.

What are you waiting for? Go!

Review Disclosure: A review copy of Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions was provided by Sierra Games for the purposes of this review.

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Daily Scoop – December 19, 2014 – So close to vacation

I’m starting to really get excited about the holidays – my vacation begins at 5pm today. I plan on playing a lot of video games, finishing up our Kickstarter, cleaning the apartment, and seeing most of the people I love. What are you doing over the winter break, reader?

Well, whatever you’re doing, if you want some cheap video games to play, now’s the time to grab them. The Steam sales are blowing my mind every day: Castle Crashers is $1.49, Killing Floor is $4.99, Batman: Arkham Origins is $4.99, and the recently-released Valkyria Chronicles is $14.99. ‘Tis the season for incredible deals!

Let’s not forget the sale at the Humble Store. Pick up Age of Wonders III for $13.59, Gauntlet for $9.99, Killer Is Dead for $6.79, and a game I really want to play, Viscera Cleanup Detail, for $6.69.

Just one shirt today, but it’s amazing!

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Insert Quarter: Broken Games Are Still Broken

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Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

Yes, we’re still talking about games that were shipped to stores broken and still haven’t been fixed after nearly half-a-dozen patches apiece. In light of all the problems that Assassin’s Creed: Unity and Halo: The Master Chief Collection has caused for Ubisoft and Microsoft, respectively, Joystiq’s Richard Mitchell looked at what companies are trying to do to prevent this from happening in the future. And the answer seems to be… “not much.”

Sony will gladly take your $60 to pre-purchase Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End through the PlayStation Store, and that’s because they’ve added a disclaimer stating they don’t have to refund your money if it gets canceled. But on the other hand, CD Projekt delayed The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt when it became obvious that they wouldn’t be able to ship the game in February as originally planned. Even though the average gamer now expects the games they purchase to be patched many times over:

What’s really alarming, however, is that this process is standard practice now. Not only do we expect games to have problems at launch, but we tolerate it. We shrug our shoulders, saying “that’s just the way it is,” while developers and publishers take advantage of one of the most passionate audiences in existence.

That’s unacceptable.

The full article is available for your perusal at Joystiq.

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New trailer offers a sneak peek at Halo 5: Guardians beta

The Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta will begin on December 29 (and run until January 18). To get gamers ready for the three-week test, Microsoft has released a brand new trailer featuring some “hot Red on Blue action.” If you pay close attention to the trailer, here’s what you might see:

To prepare fans for the start of the highly-anticipated Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta on December 29, this new trailer provides a sneak peek at the new maps, modes, weapons and Spartan Abilities featured in the intense 4v4 multiplayer arena gameplay of the three-week beta. Each week we will feature new content including seven new maps, two new weapons, new modes, and a new Competitive Skill Rating (CSR) system. Or sit back and enjoy watching multiplayer matches in the all-new Spectator Mode.

The Halo 5: Guardians beta is open to everyone who owns a copy of Halo: The Master Chief Collection. So if you’re waiting on Santa to place yours under the tree, don’t worry, you’ll still have time to enter the beta.

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Telltale teams up with Mojang for Minecraft: Story Mode

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After teasing some kind of “super secret surprise announcement” yesterday, Telltale Games has announced that they’re teaming up with Mojang to produce an episodic game series based on Minecraft. They were right, that is surprising!

The first episode of Minecraft: Story Mode will premiere sometime in 2015 and “introduce new characters” to the world of Minecraft whole exploring “familiar themes.” To that end, Telltale has also confirmed that they plan to enlist prominent members of the Minecraft community to help them craft the game’s story.

“People really like the idea of stories about Minecraft, but forcing a narrative into our core game experience would restrict players’ freedom to view the world in their own unique ways. Instead, letting them explore an alternate interpretation via Minecraft: Story Mode, driven by the proven might of Telltale, seems like a no-brainer,” said Owen Hill, the Chief Word Officer at Mojang. “We’re big fans of Telltale Games at Mojang, and we can’t wait to reveal more details on Story Mode soon.”

Minecraft: Story Mode is currently in development for the PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC platforms (Windows and Mac), and mobile platforms (iOS and Android).

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Daily Scoop: December 18, 2014 – Steam uses sale. It’s super effective!

If there’s one thing our wallets can always rely on, it’s a crippling Steam sale. Right now, State of Decay is $4.99, Dark Souls II is $14.79, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is $13.39, SpeedRunners is $2.49… the list goes on and on. Just head on over to Steam now and check it out. You’ve been both warned and encouraged!

There’s a brand new Humble Weekly Bundle up right now, and it’s the RPG Edition: Book 1. Pay what you want for Skara – The Blade Remains (Early Access Starter Package, Alpha Kimori: Episode One, and Avadon 2: The Corruption. Beat the average to unlock Consortium, Fighting Fantasy: The Forest of Doom, and Deep Dungeons of Doom. Pay $10 or more to unlock Halfway.

Let’s wrap this up with a few cool t-shirts…

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Nintendo Download: Mega Man Zero, Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D, more

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Nintendo is saving the majority of their eShop surprises for Christmas Day, but there are a few interesting odds and ends making their way to the company’s digital storefront today.

For example, Wii U owners can now tackle Mega Man Zero through the Virtual Console. Mega Man Zero was originally released for the Game Boy Advance in 2002 and is considered by fans to be one of the hardest games in the entire series. Retro gaming fans who own a Wii U might also want to check out Natsume Championship Wrestling, a Super NES game that was also added to the Virtual Console service today.

Elsewhere on the eShop, Konami has finally made Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D available to download. The 3DS port of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was originally released for the handheld in 2012.

More details on all of these games (as well as a few more) can be found after the break.

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Telltale Games teases a “super secret surprise announcement”

telltale-logoTelltale Games has had a very busy year. They completed development on The Walking Dead Season 2 and The Wolf Among Us over the Spring and Summer before moving on to the launch of Tales From the Borderlands and Game of Thrones this Fall. And both of those episodic titles will be completed in 2015 before the developer rolls right into The Walking Dead Season 3. But they’re not done yet.

According to the Job Stauffer, their Director of Public Relations, the company has plans to make a “super secret surprise announcement” as early as today:

Not only that, but Stauffer later said that the announcement isn’t “directly related” with anything they’ve released this year:

So what does Telltale have up their sleeve? Hopefully we’ll find out soon…

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