Game Reviews - Reviews

Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions (Sierra Entertainment, Multiformat)

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This game should come adorned with a government health warning as it will surely turn the player into a drooling, blank-eyed husk of a human being. It will no doubt lead to the break-up of relationships and loss of jobs, and it will cause great physical displeasure to those who allow themselves to be sucked into its vortex. They will forego eating, sleeping and comfort breaks as they sit, legs numbed, controller in hand, boggling at the screen. Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions is the gaming equivalent of the videotape in The Ring, as once you have seen it you will not be able to look away so it is best to pass the curse onto someone else before it ruins your life.


Well, maybe after just one more go. I have levels to unlock, high scores to beat and extra weapons to acquire. I know that I have not washed in three days straight and am beginning to smell like a teenage boy’s bedroom but I am well and truly hooked. Dimensions encapsulates the spirit of old school gaming in that it is deceptively simplistic yet fiendishly addictive. Essentially a spin on the “Bullet Hell” shooters popular in Japan, itputs you in a confined area and then throws all sorts of colourful diamonds, circles, squares and rhomboids into your personal space. These are much more than mere geometric shapes – they are the most pernicious, vicious beggars in the universe, and they have minds of their own. Some crawl slowly and predictably whereas others jigger and polka around the screen, seemingly without pattern. Learning their movements is key to success as when the screen is filled with dozens of them you will barely have time to think. Mercifully, the control system is intuitive and natural: one joystick moves your spaceship while the other fires your gun, allowing you to pop off lasers in all possible directions. The shoulder pads trigger special weapons such as smart bombs, shields and mines. Mastering the set-up takes a fair deal of practice, as split second decisions are crucial to survival when you have to reach a particular score within a set time limit or with only one life. Doing so allows access to more stages but the criteria for success become increasingly punitive as the difficulty level ramps up. Guaranteed are regular moments of pure frustration and those that will make you atomic with joypad breaking rage. Nonetheless, you will keep pushing the “replay” button over and over again as you fall into a hypnotic trance, spellbound by the pulsating electrobeat soundtrack and vivid neon colours.


The tremendously enjoyable Dimensions also adds a few grace notes to the pre-existent Geometry Wars template. The most obvious is the directional possibilities suggested by the title. Instead of taking place on a flat playing field, stages now move in all directions up and down, forward and backward, in and out, as you navigate your ship around wire-frame spheres, peanuts, tubes and so on. It takes a while to get your head around, particularly when you are surrounded by turbocharged parallelograms, but it makes for some very inventive level design. There are boss battles too, which are as deviously cruel as you might imagine, but the most welcome doodad is the symbiotic orb, similar to the one in R-Type (Irem, Multiformat), that satellites your ship, acting as a shield, a ram or an extra weapon in tighter spots.


The Geometry Wars franchise, created by the sadly defunct British development house Bizarre Creations, was thought lost but many of the original team are responsible for Dimensions, meaning that it has lost none of its hair tearing, marriage spoiling, personal hygiene jeopardising charm. There are worse addictions. Ross Thompson