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Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions preview: Retro still evolving

This isn't your old man's Geometry Wars. Dimensions offers a whole new take on a beloved shooter.

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Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved and Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 were two of the most challenging and competitive Xbox 360 games to hit the market. Neither game allowed you to play online against opponents, but the leaderboards were more than enough to light the fire of competition between friends. Retro Evolved 2 had local multiplayer, but the competitive mode didn't fuel the fire as much as the leaderboards.

When Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions was announced at Gamescom, it was a surprise to almost everyone. It had been years since the last entry in the series, and with players moving on to the current generation of consoles, it felt as if the Geometry Wars brand would be lost. We're happy to report that after going hands-on with the game, it's quite a bit different from the Geometry Wars you know and love, but it's definitely still Geometry Wars.

First and foremost, if you think you can circle the arena to rack up huge multipliers, you need to rethink your strategy. Unlike previous games, most of the levels in Dimensions are not flat. They all have some sort of curved structure that means you can't see everything coming at you with plenty of time to evade or plan your attack strategy. You really have to be on your toes to excel at Dimensions, and the strategies you employed in the past two games are not going to carry over very well.

To help with the lack of previous strats, you now get a helper ship that offers a variety of options. It can shoot along with you, shield your ship or help out in other ways. The game plays more like Retro Evolved 2, where you need to collect the multipliers dropped from destroying enemy ships. However, the curved nature of the boards make the helper ship a much needed assistant. Movement is still key, but you can't make broad movements around the level like you could in previous games. You have to retrain yourself to make shorter, tighter movements to avoid getting hit by a ship you didn't even know was there (because it was hidden around the outer curve of the level).

This time around there's a story mode of sorts. You traverse an overworld map, moving from shape to shape and battling through hordes of geometrical blocks across 50 levels. Periodically you'll run into a boss, which usually throws even more blocks in your direction while you battle against one big block (the boss). The boss battle we played through didn't offer much of a challenge, but it was the first boss of the game. The difficulty will increase as your make your way through the single player experience.

While 50 single player levels are a welcome addition to the Geometry Wars series, the biggest addition is the online multiplayer that will be present in Dimensions. We don't have full details on Dimensions' online functionality, but we expect that it would at least include the local multiplayer similar to Retro Evolved 2, with both competitive and cooperative options. If we're lucky, you may even be able to play through all 50 single player missions with a friend or three.

Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions is expected to launch this fall for the Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PC.

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