You Should Play: Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions adds fun new layers to the arcade blaster

An Adventure mode with new 3D stages is just icing on the cake for this awesome series return to iOS.

geowars3 chaos

These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.

Controller-based games don’t always translate well to touch devices, and Geometry Wars seems like it ought to be a prime example of that. While inspired by classic arcade games (especially Robotron: 2084), the series is built around the dual analog sticks of console gamepads, letting you easily steer your ship with one stick and fire with the other as you zip around the minimal, neon-tinged terrain. Precision is absolutely necessary, given the small stages and focus on amassing high scores. 

Amazingly, when Geometry Wars Touch launched alongside the original iPad in 2010, it was a rather strong port: virtual sticks replaced the real ones, and while they didn’t feel quite as precise as physical ones might, the fun remained. Fast forward five years and now we have Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved, brought over from consoles just months after the original release—and it’s even better.

Like the earlier entry, Geometry Wars 3 is fantastic fun throughout, delivering tense shootouts against an array of enemies, along with plenty of variety—there’s even a mode without guns, and for my money, it’s the most entertaining of the bunch. But Dimensions doesn’t just maintain the popular content from before: as the subtitle suggests, it also adds 3D stages alongside the typical flat ones, offering new gameplay twists and some nice visual pop along the way. 

geowars3 3dstages

The new 3D stages scroll around as you move, letting you zip along the edge of a cylinder or rounded square stage while blasting enemies.

And it doesn’t succumb to freemium trends, with a single $5 price point that gains you access to its ample content. Ready to blast off into these shimmering shootouts? Here are three ways in which Geometry Wars 3 delivers serious satisfaction. 

Compulsive fun: Geometry Wars drops your little ship into a grid and then begins loading the space with enemies. Early foes might be simple creatures that slowly pursue, but before long you’ve got cubes that explode into smaller ones, glowing snakes that slither about, lengthy formations of arrows that bounce from wall to wall, and perhaps even a wormhole that’ll suck you in if you get near. Needless to say, the series thrives on chaos, and staying alive amidst that madness is a real test.

geowars3 boss

Big bosses surround themselves with smaller allies, and will chase you around the stage once you wear them down a bit.

But that’s where the fun comes in. Dimensions is a “one more time” favorite, as the quick play sessions and tough-but-fair design compel you to dig back in time and again to increase your score. A lot of the fun comes from the extra gameplay layer beyond killing or being killed: each downed enemy drops little green bits that boost your score multiplier. As such, finding serious success—and taking down your friends on the online leaderboards—means nimbly moving through the madness and collecting while blasting. It amps up the tension to incredible levels at times. 

Shake it up: One of the strongest attributes of the series is the way it offers a few different twists on the formula. In one mode, you might have three lives to use to last as long as possible; in another, you’ve got three minutes to rack up as high of a score as you can, regardless of deaths. But for me, the biggest thrills come from Pacifism, a mode that takes away your blasters and challenges you to guide the pursuing enemies right through explosive gates in the cramped stage. I’ve played the mode thousands of times on Xbox, and having a fresh version on my iPhone has reignited my years-long obsession.

geowars3 pacifism

In Pacifism, your weaponless ship is chased by loads of glowing blue diamonds—which explode when you zip through a nearby gate.

And Dimensions actually goes much further than earlier entries with the new Adventure mode. It’s a campaign that collects a few dozen stages to tackle, which collectively mix in different play types while also utilizing those new 3D locales—and occasionally, toss in boss battles. All told, it’s a hearty and welcome addition that really does put another layer on this already long-lasting experience.

geowars3 adventure

The Adventure bounces between the different game modes and varying level types, keeping you on your toes throughout.

Primed for touch: When I played Geometry Wars Touch a few years back on iPad, I found it good enough, but not great: I just didn’t feel fully in control without a gamepad. But the touch controls in Dimensions feel extremely precise, with subtle thumb movements corresponding near-perfectly in the game. I still encounter rare moments in which my thumb catches on the screen due to moisture, but that just comes with the touch territory. By and large, Geometry Wars 3 nails the controls here.

geowars3 chaos

Lots of enemies, but little space to get around: the Geometry Wars formula is well established, but still plenty effective.

Dimensions also adds an auto-fire mode to make it a little easier to enjoy on a small screen, although I never had trouble seeing the action even with both thumbs in use. If you’re used to playing Geometry Wars with a controller, you might grumble about the change in approach—but Dimensions is amazing fun, and having it with me at all times for a mere five bucks is one of the best deals on the App Store. 

Developer: Activision
Platform: iOS (Universal)
Price: $5

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