Geometry Wars (Xbox/Project Gotham Racing 2)

World Of Stuart makes no apologies for being several months behind the times (though probably not The Times) on this one, because nobody in their right minds spends any worthwhile amount of their one irreplaceable life on IGN or Gamespot's forums. It took the fine chaps at Way Of The Rodent to alert your correspondent to this little news-gem, so it's entirely possible it may have passed you, the normally-alert viewers of WoS, by also.

Geometry Wars is one of the latest in the line of that finest of traditions, the secret hidden game. It's located in Project Gotham Racing 2, the Xbox's slightly disappointing real-life street-racing blockbuster, is at least twice as good, and is a fine example of how much fun games could still be if it weren't for that pesky technological progress.

No screenshots of GW appear to exist on the web.

Geometry Wars is pretty well-hidden, in an area of the game you'd normally never need to visit, but easy enough to access. Simply start PGR2 as normal, select a Kudos World Series game, and progress as normal until you get to the Car Select screen. There you should see an option at the bottom of the screen to go to your Garage.

Select that, then press the Yellow button to enter "Walk Mode". Use the analogue sticks to walk around (left stick for move and sidestep, right stick for rotate - no legacy mode, tsk) and explore the various contents of your garage until you come to the arcade cabinet at the right-hand end. Go up to it and press the Green button to start Geometry Wars.

So these were taken off the telly with the WoS digital camera. Apologies for the quality.

Geometry Wars is basically Robotron crossed with the famous Macintosh game Crystal Quest, with vector graphics (following on from the similar-looking hidden bonus games in Timesplitters 2 and on the "Degenatron" section of the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City fake retro website). It has only a few different enemies to attack you with, but piles them on in huge numbers for extremely intense action and a forbidding difficulty level.

The instructions/rules can be seen in full in the screenshot above, but World Of Stuart, though slow in discovering the game, is proud to bring you the world's first Geometry Wars Complete Unauthorised Player's Guide! This comprehensive and definitive document begins in the paragraph immediately following this one. Look, down there, under the screenshot.

That's you, just above the top-right corner of the dialog box.

The pic above shows (after a fashion) pretty much everything you'll encounter in Geometry Wars. The blue diamond-shaped enemies are the game's Grunts - they lumber directly towards your ship, slowly but steadily, and will dumbly walk straight into your bullets without flinching. The green squares with the diamonds inside them pursue you more determinedly, but will back away and dodge nimbly when you start to fire in their direction. Purple squares with crosses inside home in until you shoot them, whereupon they split into several smaller versions of themselves, which chase you only in a slow looping pattern.

And finally, red circles sit completely still, but if you don't shoot them quickly they grow (requiring more hits to kill) and form a sort of swirling black hole (one can be seen towards the bottom left corner of the picture), sucking in surrounding enemies (and deflecting your bullets) until it reaches critical mass, at which point it explodes in a shower of deadly little fast blue circles which come after you like tiny hyped-up vampire bloodhounds (or, for the more gaming-focused among you, almost exactly like Swarmers in Defender).

Geometry Wars' idea of a quiet reflective moment.

Blue diamond - 45 pts
Green square - 175 pts
Large purple - 65 pts
Small purple - 125 pts
Red circle - 75 pts per hit, plus 175 destruction bonus
Blue swarmers - 100 pts
Destroying enemies with smart bomb - 0 pts

The longer you survive, the better your weaponry gets - faster bullets, a wider spread, a certain amount of homing ability - though it gets downgraded when you get killed. There are no waves, there's no end, and the only crime is to die with unused smart bombs. World Of Stuart's current high score (after about an hour of play) is a towering 133,375. The brave and unusually-skilled among you may try to best it. Good luck.

Comments? WoS Forum