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May 12, 2010

The Zombie Apocalypse of Geometry Wars - Xbox Live

I have a new video game addiction. In addition to playing the wonderful Assassin's Creed 2, the excellent Borderlands, and gearing up for some Battlefield: Bad Company 2, I tried out a couple of Xbox Live titles as well. Now I'm really hooked on them too, with my fingers twitching like something that really twitches a lot!

The two games in question are Zombie Apocalypse and Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2, and they couldn't be more different. Or more fun.

Both of them use the same movement and fire method. You move around the screen with the left stick and use the right stick for firing (much like the old Robotron days). This enables multi-directional firing of your weapon, but can also cause your brain to disconnect sometimes as you try to get one finger going one way and one going the other way.

In Zombie Apocalypse, you play as one of four characters (honestly, I didn't notice any difference in the characters other than that one is female, but there might be some) who are tasked with fighting off the hordes of the undead menace in a small variety of different settings. You don't need to know the story. This is an arcade game! All you need to know is that you kill the monsters with a bunch of different weapons. You have a basic rifle, though occasionally a friendly helicopter will drop a shotgun, Molotov Cocktails, sub-machine gun, or even a flamethrower(!) down for you to pick up. Just don't let them get too close, or they can grapple you! Wiggling the left stick can throw them off of you most of the time, though if you get swarmed, you're toast. If they do get close, you can always use your chainsaw!

(Click all pictures to enlarge)

As you progress from day to day (there are 55 "days" in the game), the horde becomes more numerous with some more powerful zombies as well. Some zombies slide away from your fire, making them harder to hit. The "Big Boys" you have to be careful with, as if they grapple you, you can't break free. The monsters get more and more powerful, but they also get funner to dismember too. Each play area has environmental ways to kill zombies as well. Force them through a wood-chipper! Or blow them up by shooting the propane tank that they're running next to. These kills look super-cool (unless you don't like the sight of dismembered zombies, of course)

Twice a level, another "survivor" will come onto the screen. If you touch them and then protect them, they'll get rescued by a helicopter for extra points! If you don't, they'll be zombiefied and come after you as well. Much like the Big Boys, their grapple can't be dislodged either. They also don't fall for the "zombie bait" that you also have in your arsenal.

Zombie bait is basically a stuffed teddy bear that is timed to explode, and all zombies (except the survivors who, um, didn't survive) go after it like catnip. Some of the lines the bait spouts are hilarious before it (BOOM!!) explodes, taking any zombies near it with it. "I'm stuffed with love!" it will say in that Care Bear-type voice. Or "I've got a surprise for you. Hehehehehehehehe!" Rescuing survivors will have the helicopters drop more bait, as you start each level with only one.

This is a seriously cool and addictive game, with its tongue so firmly in its cheek that it's probably been stapled there. You'll be tempted (like I will be soon) to continue past your final death (you get a number of lives, earning extra ones as you score more points). At the end, you get the option to "continue," though any subsequent points you score won't go onto your leaderboard ranking. But you will get to experience the harder levels that you can't get to in one playthrough.

There is a multi-player option, where you cooperate with some of your friends. I haven't played it (because none of my friends have it *sniff*), but it is an option as well. Frankly, it seems that, as the levels progress, you almost need a partner. Thankfully, the multiplayer is online, so you don't have to be in the same living room to get some help.

The other game I've been playing is Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2. This game kind of reminds me of a more hyped-up (and BRIGHTER!) version of Asteroids, in that you have a ship that you move around the screen, trying not to run into the various obstacles in your path. Except this time the obstacles are geometric shapes, many of them are coming directly after you, and they can come in swarms.

Also, you can shoot multi-directionally using your right thumb stick, rather than just out of the front of your ship like in Asteroids. The gameplay is frenetic, starting off at an easy pace but quickly getting very fast. I find myself flying around the playing field, frantically avoiding the objects or trying to shoot them before I fly through them. The screen can quickly get filled with a huge number of shapes. Thankfully, you have a small number of "bombs" that you can fire using your triggers, which will destroy everything on the screen. You don't get any points for them, but they do drop crystals that add to your points multipliers.

Of course, that's just one (and my favourite) game mode, called Evolved. You can unlock six different modes, all with a wide variety of gameplay options. There's "Deadline", which limits everything to a 3 minute time interval, which means you need to get that multiplier up fast! Then there's King mode, where you can only fire from protective circles, circles that slowly (and then more rapidly) shrink to nothingness. While in the circle, you can't be touched, but since you can only fire when you're in one, getting to the next one can be quite hazardous!

There's "Pacifism," where you can't fire at all! Instead, you race through a series of "gates" that will explode and take any nearby enemies with you. If you run into one of the orange bases for one of these gates, though, you die. It's like a slalom if the penalty for missing a flag was death instead of just a bad score.

"Wave" mode has a huge wall of orange ship enemies streak across the screen, crashing into you if you're not careful. Destroy them quickly, because new waves come from different directions, and if you're caught between them, you're going to die!

"Sequence" has a series of different scenarios that you can play, with the same enemy set-up each time you play, but the set-ups get harder and harder as you go along. It will be really tough to get to them all.

There are two multiplayer modes: Copilot and Competitive. Unfortunately, they are not online, so even if I did have friends playing this game, I couldn't play it with them. You have to be in the same living room. Though I do challenge my Xbox Live friends to join me on the Leaderboards!

Whichever mode you play, you'll find yourself saying "just one more try" when you lose your final life. If this thing took quarters, I'd be feeling the urge to dump quarter after quarter into the slot until we were in the poorhouse. It's highly-addictive, but thankfully each game takes about 5 minutes at most (if you last that long). It's very much a "pick up and play" game.

What's even cooler is that, if you have a account, you can get a gamercard not only for your Xbox Live (you can see mine on the side of this blog), but also for Geometry Wars 2! Here's mine at this moment (hopefully I will be getting better, but right now, I kind of suck):

I find my thumb hurting after both of these games, but it's a good hurt. I always play one session of each game before moving on to Borderlands (my other current video game addiction, more on which I'll be writing soon). I haven't really gotten into Xbox Live Arcade games, but these two examples may draw me more into the genre.

They're available for download on Xbox Live, but also on PS3 and PC too, I believe. Check them out.

But don't blame me if you become infected. You have been warned.

(Many thanks to Dan Americh at One of Swords for posting the information on the MyGamercard option, as well as the encouragement to check Geometry Wars out)


  1. if the teevee kills itself again i'm getting a 65 inch one. and you can't use it.
    - the wife

  2. ps: don't like the pic. bad haircut.
    - the wife

  3. But the games will look so good on a 65-inch TV! :(



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