Xbox Live Arcade roundup

Written by Wil Harris

April 2, 2007 | 11:17

Tags: #360 #arcade #doom #download #geometry-wars #live #marketplace #points #review #screenshots #street-fighter #worms

Companies: #microsoft

Geometry Wars

This insane shooter was one of the games that launched on the Live Marketplace alongside the actual Xbox 360 itself, and back when we reviewed the console we said it was one of the best things you could play on the console. How has time, and competition from other Live shooters, treated it?

Well, we originally said that it had "eye-bleed-inducing visuals", and that has certainly not changed. The graphical style of GW builds on the worlds created in games like Robotron and Tempest, a kind of abstract art against space backdrop style. In HD, the game really looks incredibly good, and as you progress up the levels, you'll struggle to stop yourself having an epileptic fit as the enemies on screen and the weapons fire gets chaotic.

The gameplay is still just as simple as it was then. The idea is to move your ship with one stick, direct your fire with the other - the formula that Robotron launched that has been just as successful with ancient games like Llamatron as it is here. Thankfully, the 360 analogue sticks are up to the job of the precise control needed to weave the craft in and out of the masses of enemy ships.

But, having now played the game for around a year, it's interesting to see that it still keeps bringing me back. It still keeps me trying to beat my top score. GW is an easy game to get playing, but is, at times, frustratingly difficult to master. Learning to get to a 50,000 score is fairly simple. Getting to 200,000 will take a few new tactics and some thought. Getting beyond that to 750,000 or so will require hours and hours and hours of practice and frustration - every time you start the game, obviously, you have to play through the first few hundred thousand points again, which can mean you play without a hitch for twenty minutes, only to get the point where you're struggling to beat, spend five minutes there and be dead. Frustrating, but compulsive.

Xbox Live Arcade roundup Geometry Wars, Doom Xbox Live Arcade roundup Geometry Wars, Doom
Having said this, I have quite a few friends that can't stand the game. Just can't see what's fun about it. So here's my advice - go grab the demo, and just play it. If you're hooked by the hypnotic visuals and graphics, you won't think twice about splashing the pocket money required to buy it. If you can't see what all the fuss is all about... then just move on to the next thing.


Hands up if you've never played Doom? Thought not. Almost anybody with any heritage in PC gaming whatsoever has cut their teeth, at some point, on Id Software's classic. And we mean 'classic' in the truest sense of the word - this is really the exemplar game that built a generation. An industry has been built on this game. It's the stuff of which legends are made.

Unfortunately, it's also the stuff of which ropey sequels are made. Whilst Doom 2 was pretty good, adding a few new weapons and monsters and sating our appetites for more fun, Doom 3 was a good-looking travesty, offering slow-paced, linear gameplay which merely served to pull you through the stunningly-lit levels. With that bitter taste in the mouth, it's hard to contemplate going back to play the original. I mean, it's not going to be that good, right?

Wrong. Doom, on the 360, feels better than it has any right to be. For starters, the console controls work really well - how did that happen? For those who played the game on keys, with ALT as the strafe modifier, you'll find it bizarrely easy to pick up the 360 pad and get straight into the game. Standard FPS console controls abound, but with, obviously, no looking up or down on the right hand stick. It shouldn't work, but it does.

Xbox Live Arcade roundup Geometry Wars, Doom Xbox Live Arcade roundup Geometry Wars, Doom
The game itself is actually better for the history. Playing the game, you can see the things it did, the cues it had and the lessons it taught, with the benefit of the experience of hundreds of other FPS games over the years. Doom still does things well that other games do not. When was the last time you went to hunt down a secret door or weapon in an FPS level? Secrets don't even exist in most modern games, but they were a crucial part of the Doom experience, and their inclusion here reminds you of what you're missing.

Online multiplayer is fun, although doesn't exactly have a vast number of game modes. However, more fun is the four-way split-screen deathmatch, which makes for perfect post-pub fodder - the double header of this and Worms will surely keep you up all night! Doom is superbly fun to play in multiplayer, although it's not going to replace Pro Evo in the long term, we suspect.

All in all, most PC gamers will enjoy this and the throwback it provides. Making your way through all four episodes basically means that each episode costs a pound, which is stunning value for money.
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