Geometry Wars: Galaxies Updated Hands-On - Geoms and Drones

We get a hands-on look at the upcoming update of Geometry Wars for the Wii and DS.


We last took a look at Geometry Wars: Galaxies in late June, but the package has evolved a bit in the last couple of months. At a recent Sierra press event, we managed to get our hands on an updated version of the game and saw some of the new features.

The action is even faster in Galaxies than it was in Retro Evolved.
The action is even faster in Galaxies than it was in Retro Evolved.

If you've played Geometry Wars on the Xbox 360, then you'll be in for a real adjustment when you pick it up for the Wii. The controls aren't difficult, in theory: You use the Nunchuk analog stick to move your ship and point your Wii Remote at the screen to give your ship an aiming vector. Pressing the B button on the Wii Remote will cause your ship to unload a volley of shells in the direction you're aiming. If you're used to the smoothness of the dual-analog controls, this can make the game a bit more difficult to play because it's more difficult to aim precisely. However, we're told that the game is a little easier to play if you never actually played Retro Evolved on the 360 because you don't have to unlearn your habits.

We've spoken before about the Geoms, which act as a kind of currency in the game. Each enemy you kill in a level will drop a Geom, which will float around for a few seconds before disappearing. One of the new tactical aspects of the game lies in the pursuit of Geoms: If you kill a large number of enemies, you might want to go grab the Geoms, but that might mean leaving a safe area of the level and heading into a spawning zone. Different-sized Geoms will give you more currency. Most are only worth one Geom, but some are worth five or 15 Geoms, making them more worth your while to track down.

Another major way the Geoms influence the game lies in the fact that every single Geom you pick up increases your score multiplier by one. If you kill 10 enemies and pick up all of their Geoms, you'll get a multiplier of 10. This is obviously a big shift from the relatively slow-paced scoring of Retro Evolved because you can start building up a multiplier of up to 100 on the easy waves of enemies at the beginning of a level. It also makes it a lot easier to recover from a death (which resets your multiplier to its lowest level) to continue to achieve high scores. While scoring a million points in Retro Evolved might be considered an achievement, the scores in Galaxies are going to put that to shame. It's apparently possible, with a few hours and zenlike concentration, to rack up a multiplier of 1000, scoring more than a billion points. We're told the game actually features a score cap of 25,000,000,000 points at the moment. We're curious to see who actually manages to hit it. Because both versions of the game are going to feature online scoreboards, we're sure someone will try.

Your drone companion will provide a small bonus to your combat capabilities in the single-player portions of the game.
Your drone companion will provide a small bonus to your combat capabilities in the single-player portions of the game.

Secondly, we also picked up some new info on the drone behaviors that are available to you. You'll fight through Galaxies with a drone ship that fights alongside you and be able to specify the kinds of behavior that you want it to take. In addition to the straightforward "attack" behavior, you can toggle it to "collect," which will cause it to run around and pick up Geoms; "turret," which will cause it to drop independent gun turrets around the map; "ram," which causes it to hit larger enemies and break them up; and "bait," which will cause enemies to attack the drone instead of you. The drone is indestructible and even has a few more uses in addition to the ones listed above, so it should wind up being a handy ally. We're told that getting a high score on certain levels of the game will probably be made a lot easier by having a drone that's experienced in a certain kind of behavior.

All in all, Geometry Wars: Galaxies is looking like it should be a fun experience, whether or not you're familiar with Retro Evolved. (It'll just take you a bit longer to get used to it if you've played previous versions of the game.) We'll have more coverage of the game as it nears its release.

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