Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions: Out of its depth

January 8, 2015


Geometry Wars was an arcade game for the modern generation. It got people chasing high scores, it legitimized achievements and it was controller-shakingly hard while being completely fair. Geometry Wars 2 managed to improve on the original by introducing new enemies and tying multipliers to geom collection instead of number of kills, making your second life just as valuable as your first. Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions continues a lot of the good from Geometry Wars 2, but it isn’t an arcade game anymore. There are still scores to chase, and there are still smart bombs to clear the screen when you get into trouble, but whatever nugget made Geometry Wars special died a little when the playfields became three-dimensional.

On one hand, I like the new adventure mode. Three minutes of pacifism is long enough to be challenging, but short enough that retrying after a botched run doesn’t mean a huge loss of time. Playing King of the Hill, Deadline, Classic and Pacifism in short bursts while vying for score totals to earn stars is a great mechanic. Where Dimensions fails is in playfield design. The original and Geometry Wars 2 both channel ’80s arcade classics and take place on a static field. You can always see what is happening, you can always see enemies as they spawn and, while you may get surprised by a rogue unit, it’ll never be because you couldn’t see it as it spawned on the underside of the map.


Playing on a cube or a peanut is a gimmick. It’s not novel, it doesn’t really add anything to the experience and it ends up taking away from it because of the reduced amount of information available. I found myself dying to enemies I didn’t (and couldn’t) see spawn. Some of those units are quick, and missing their spawn essentially means giving up your current life.

Drones have also been added to the mix, and they complement most any play style. I prefer the magnet drone that picks up geoms for me so I can concentrate on clearing out enemies. There are other drones that fire along with you, ram enemies and take sniper shots for you. There are also drone super-abilities, like homing missiles, mines and defensive black holes added to your standard smart bomb. I love this addition; having a little invincible co-op buddy feels like a great addition to the standard gameplay, and being able to customize my helper before every level really makes it feel like there are multiple ways to win.

Dimensions is far from an easy game. Every ten levels, there’s a boss fight, and in order to face the boss you need a preset amount of stars. Each level has three stars to offer, but don’t be surprised if on your first time out you’re struggling to get a single star. Replay is not only rewarding but encouraged, and required to access each boss. And once you get there, the bosses are all quite difficult. There is a strict time limit, the bosses constantly spawn standard enemies and you’ve only got one life to take them down.


Collecting geoms will let you upgrade drones, and earning stars in the various levels will unlock new drones to play as. And if all of the adventure levels just aren’t what you want when you boot up a Geometry Wars game then that’s what the classic mode is there for. You can’t play the Asteroids-inspired Titan mode there, but you can see the majority of the playfield and go for high scores. I’m glad to have a new Geometry Wars title, but the magic just isn’t there, and I won’t be coming back to this one for years like I did the first two.

Pros: Customized drone loadouts are cool, Titan is a fun mode
Cons: Can’t ever see the whole playfield, deaths no longer always feel fair

Score: 3/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.