I've got some good news and I've got some bad news. The good news first. Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 has been moved up a week and should hit Xbox Live Arcade next Wednesday, July 30th for 800 Microsoft Points (up from 400 for the previous). Thankfully there are tons of new features and game modes that help justify the cost.
I do have more good news, we have a ton of details on the GWRE2's new game modes like Deadline, Pacifism, and Waves all posted after the read more link. What's even better? We have wallpaper sized downloads of the above graphic for both widescreen and standard monitors! Score.
The first mode is Deadline. This is also the mode which is unlocked in the trial version of the game (both single and multiplayer). The idea is simple: score as many points as you can in 3 minutes. You have as many lives as you want, but of course if you die a lot then you won't be scoring as many points as the next guy. You also have bombs, but these are limited (you start with three).
Destroyed enemies drop Geoms (little glittery yellow things) which you can pick up by driving your ship over them. These Geoms increase your score multiplier, so grab as many of these as you possibly can! Every game mode has Geoms, and you should always pick them up. I can't stress this enough: pick up the Geoms to score big! Your multiplier is no longer capped at 10x either, so having multipliers of many thousands is quite normal (if you're good enough)!
This mode is easy to explain, but very tactical once you start to really get into it. Again the premise is very basic: circular "zones" appear all over the grid. You can drive into these zones, and whilst inside them you are safe (the enemies can't enter the zones). You can shoot outwards, destroying the baddies outside your zone. However (and it's a big HOWEVER), after a short time the zone will collapse and you'll be left exposed. Whilst outside a zone you can't shoot at all, meaning that you had better hot foot it to another zone as quickly as you can!
Try to collect a bunch of Geoms as you move between the zones. If you're playing with a friend in co-operative mode, try this tactic: one of you stay inside the zone shooting outward, whilst the second player collects the fallen Geoms. Then swap when the zone decays. That's the trick to scoring big in co-op!
You can think of Evolved as a super charged version of Retro Evolved 1. You start with three lives and three bombs, and you keep playing until those lives run out. There are quite a few changes this time though... here's the short list:
New enemies make an appearance, like the gates, rockets, etc.
Overall balance has been changed, so the game gets more exciting after a shorter amount of time (no more spending the first three minutes of the game waiting for it to get intense!)
No more multiple weapon types. We nuked the first "starter" weapon from GWRE1, as well as the big, slow gun. The only weapon that you'll use throughout GWRE2 is a tweaked version of the faster-firing weapon (which was pretty much the fan favourite to begin with anyway).
Tiny spinners (the little purple guys which split from the big spinners) no longer track the player. They stay rotating in one spot, acting more like a "blocker" than a normal "follower" type enemy.
Gravity wells now destroy enemies on exploding! Not only that, but it'll give you 5x the score for the privilege! Gravity Wells should now be a priority to take out when things get busy. Note: destroying enemies in gate explosions (and bouncing bullets off of gates) also gives the same 5x score bonus.
Repulsars have a new look, and slightly changed behaviour. They no longer repulse your bullets, but they are still only vulnerable from the backside.
Lives and bombs are still given once you reach a set score, but this time the gap between them gets exponentially larger each time. In other words the first extra life/bomb is given at 100,000, then the second at 10 times this amount, and the third at 10 times that amount.
Of course, "Snake spawn" is no longer an issue. :-)
Everybody remembers the Pacifism achievement from Retro Evolved 1. At the time it was hailed as the first of a new breed, encouraging a different way of looking at the game. Well we couldn't just leave pacifism in the past... in GWRE2 it's been promoted into a full game mode of its own. Yay!
As you might have already guessed, you can't shoot whilst playing Pacifism. Oh, and you only get one life and no bombs. The only offense you have against the infinite blue shapes is to drive through the gates (a new enemy type), which triggers a big explosion deadly to the bad guys. Driving through multiple gates in a row will give you bonus points, so try to chain together as many as you can without stopping.
One word of warning: avoid the deadly yellow gate ends! Make sure you drive straight through the middle of the gate, without touching the sides!
If you've played the hidden Geometry Wars mini-game in PGR4, then you'll have an idea of what to expect here. The Waves game mode gives you one life (and again, no bombs), and asks you to survive as long as possible against wave after wave of incoming rockets. The rockets travel either horizontally or vertically, so you'll need to pick your route through them carefully in order to come out the other side unscathed.
If you're having trouble mastering Waves, bring some friends along and quadruple your firepower. Oh and check out the Surf achievement, where you must stay alive for 8 wave spawns without firing a shot. Sound tough? It is!!
The final game mode is Sequence... and this is one for the professionals. There are 20 levels, and the aim of the game is to make it through all twenty without dying. On the plus side, each wave is identical every time you play... so if you remember the spawns then you'll be at a great advantage. The bad news is that each wave is pretty freakin' hard, and you only start with a set number of lives and bombs to do them all with.
Every level must be completed in 30 seconds, and if you lose a life you skip to the next level (thus forfeiting the points you could have scored if you had stayed alive).
Sequence gets interesting in multiplayer, especially when you're playing competitively to beat each others scores. More devious players might experiment with the green Weaver enemies... try pushing them into another player to kill them off early in the level! When one of you dies you have to sit out for the remainder of the time, meaning your opponents can really score big whilst you're on the sidelines. Ouch!