My time with Geometry Wars 3 at PAX Prime in Seattle demonstrated that the game fits perfectly with its 2D brethren. Piloting the iconic, angular cruiser through galactic grids felt as tight as ever, while slipping past threats and rapidly firing laser-like bullets at geometric baddies is as chaotic as ever. It took a few attempts to get acquainted with the game's latest twist, though the enemy and bullet behavior is just that, a "twisted" version of the previous games.
The flat grid-like playing field fans are used to is now a sphere, tube, pill, peanut or one of numerous other shapes, depending on which of the single-player mode's 50 levels you jump into. Every element in play is stuck to the surface like Nintendo's iconic plumber in Super Mario Galaxy, but ultimately Geometry Wars 3 draws some appropriate comparisons to Super Stardust HD. Missiles rocketed past my ship and around the bend of some levels, but aiming for the more distant neon creatures never felt like a real shot in the dark, if I'm allowed to make my own puns here. Geometry Wars 3 includes boss battles as well, in which much larger enemies feature their own waves and patterns, as well as Zelda-style timing elements; they were encased in an icy crystal shield, then vulnerable to our attacks for a brief amount of time. It helped that drone companions return in the game, with the added muscle of the Ram or extra firepower of Attack drones helping to gun down enemies, while the Miner helped scoop up the collectible Geoms.
Geoms serve as a multiplier to boost your spot on the leaderboard, and they're also used to unlock drones and their subsequent special powers. These include the detonator and black hole abilities mapped to the left trigger, the latter turning your drone into a spinning vortex that drags the nefarious shapes into its lethal core, twisting the grid behind it.
Each level in the single-player campaign is locked to a specific game mode, and familiar game styles like pacifism and king return in Geometry Wars 3. One pacifism level had my ship passing through gates to test my movement skills on a more traditional, flat grid, while a "titan" level featured bigger versions of the game's iconic enemies that broke apart into smaller ones upon being destroyed. Though some weren't complete, the dozens of levels available in the demo displayed a welcome amount of variety in their grid shapes and challenges, and three-starring one or two of them was satisfying enough that I wished the leaderboards were aready connected.
While my time was limited to single-player action, Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions will include cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes. Up to two teams of four players will be able to duke it out, but Lucid Games plans to tone down the hectic pace in that mode by having players focus on disrupting the other team rather than simply shoot at one another. Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions will launch this fall for Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.