- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 6, 2015

An update to a retro gaming classic explodes on Apple’s iOS screens in Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions (Sierra and Lucid Games, Rated Everyone, reviewed on iPad Air, $4.99).

For a bit of history here, way back in 2003 a seemingly inconsequential mini-game was hidden in “Project Gotham Racing 2” for the Xbox called “Geometry Wars.”

Originally used as a way for developers to test the new Xbox controller when building the original “Project Gotham Racing,” the dual-stick shooter became an instant hit with players who found it in the sequel. A subsequent full release from developer Bizarre Creations topped the charts in “Xbox Live Arcade,” and thus a franchise was born.

Now, let’s jump to the latest release to find a player still controlling an auto-firing, glowing, claw-shaped spaceship while looking to avoid colliding with aggressive neon-enhanced space junk.

The frenetic action, a sort of steroid-fueled version of “Asteroids,” has a pilot fly around dimpled, sometimes undulating, three-dimensional grids. The pilot has to react to gravity while being constantly under attack by ever-increasing swarms of those beautiful, multicolored objects.

He can easily destroy them with the onboard weapons as he zips around gorgeous spheres and various shaped geometrical arenas.

This iteration first offers a generous Adventure mode, sans any story, with 50 varying missions. A player conquers each (not being destroyed by the objects) to amass certain point levels to earn up to three stars and continue to progress.

As he works through levels, some timed, some based on number of lives and other parameters, he has access to other upgradeable firepower.

Specifically, a player can use a companion drone or unleash a super ability such as a black hole, a bomb to clear the area of all enemies or a turret.

The Adventure ultimately offer levels starring a challenging boss. Take the case early on of a massive, multi-sided, rotating crystal that spews attacking objects and gets whittled down as it takes damage before exploding in a maelstrom.

Older gamers will revel in a classic mode, no drones or bosses and set in a more linear playing field. Classic mode has five different game types including surviving with one life and using guns in specific zones only, called the King Classic, for example.

The latest release is a perfect fit for the iPad with a pair of virtual directional pads on the touch-sensitive screen for maneuvering ship and controlling the targeting of enemies. A bevy of icons located on the right side of the screen offers a limited super abilities and drone functions enabled with a tap.

Additionally, the bite-sized levels are often completed in a set amount of time (usually two minutes) making it a perfect casual game to take on the road or for great for some quick stress relief during down time.

As an added bonus, pop on headphones to get overwhelmed by explosions and sound effects but, be forewarned, also deal with some incredibly annoying, techno-synth music.

The game also features access to Facebook to show off scores against friends, but its lack of a true multiplayer mode seems a bit antiquated.

And for serious fan, it offers iCloud saving to play the shooter on an owner’s other iOS devices and, best of all, with no in-app purchases at any time.

Suffice to report, “Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions” is an incredibly affordable, addictive addition to the franchise that shines on the Apple’s tablet and delivers a gorgeous mobile gaming experience.

• Joseph Szadkowski can be reached at jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com.

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