The game that started out as a bonus game in Project Gotham Racing 2 for the Xbox arrives on iOS as a universal app, and in some style. This is the game that sparked the recent wave of ‘twin stick’ shooters, named so as you simply control your ships movement on a top-down 2D plane with the left stick, and the direction of your fire controlled with the right stick. So how can this translate the the iPad and iPhone which, well, don’t have any sticks? Very well, as it turns out.
Taking a cue from innovative iPhone games such as Dropship (itself said to be inspired by Geometry Wars), the screen is set in two halves. Touching the left half of the screen creates a little virtual analogue stick at the point you touched the screen, controlling movement, and the same goes for the right hand side, only this time for firing instead. It works brilliantly, your little ship controlling perfectly, and you can even adjust the size of the sticks to suit you style of play. Good control is essential in a game like this, as things can get pretty hectic. When I say hectic, I really mean it, as the screen can become overwhelmingly filled with hundreds of objects, your little ship dodging and diving between swarms of enemies, with the truly brilliant pumping soundtrack driving you on. The game has no story, your ship is just a few shapes meshed together, and your enemies are just little polygon wires. Despite this, the graphics are fantastic, with big explosions, bright colours and black holes that suck everything in, warping the entire playfield before exploding, spewing out dozens of enemies.
When killed, enemies drop geoms, which are basically score multipliers, going toward that all important high score. The enemies truly make the game with many different types, such as simple shapes that just follow you to randomly wandering drones and more complicated foes that dance all over the screen before splitting in to tiny versions of themselves and giant snakes and…you get the point. This version of Geometry Wars is basically a conversion of the Xbox Live Arcade game Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2, which is good in many ways, but also slightly disappointing. Its great that there are plenty of modes to work through, from a basic version of Retro Evolved to cool modes such as Titan where you have to fight giant enemies, and Pacifist where you can’t shoot at all and can only dodge. The main plus point of it being based on Retro Evolved 2, however is the fantastic leaderboard implementation.
The entire time you play, the game displays the name and score of the person one place above you in the world, giving you brilliant motivation to keep playing. It kept me playing one mode so much that I managed to claw into the top 150 in the world, and I’m not someone who usually gives leaderboards more than a few passing glances. The problem with all this, is that is not Geometry Wars Galaxies. The Wii game had an amazing galaxy mode where you visited many different levels, all with different shapes and mindbending gravity effects, and also an ace customisable helper drone. Having these would have been amazing, but it was not to be. Geometry Wars Touch still comes highly recommended as a game to truly get your blood pumping, and with great graphics, that fantastic soundtrack and, most of all, the clever leaderboards, old school hardcore gamers will be well served.