The additional modes could have been a disaster or merely an irrelevance, but the more you play the more you realise that each brings out a new dimension or aspect to the gameplay. King, for instance, is a test of your grasp of movement and strategy. Merely racing from safe zone to safe zone won’t get you a high score; you need to pick up as many multiplier tokens as possible while you’re in the dangerous space in-between. Waves, meanwhile, requires feats of comprehension and concentration. If you can’t track the enemy waves and constantly keep on top of the speeding lines, you won’t last long enough to make a million. Sequence is probably the ultimate GW trial. If your skills are weak or your reactions less than awesome, you don’t stand a chance of making it through all twenty levels in one piece.
And even if you don’t like one or two modes, you’re guaranteed to find the rest fiendishly addictive. Before writing this review I had a quick session in each mode to remind me what was going on, and rapidly found myself lost in an obsessive thirty-minute quest for a new high score in King. I pulled myself away and did exactly the same thing minutes later in Waves. If you asked me two days ago I would have called these my least favourite game modes of the six, so don’t even ask how much time I’ve sunk on Pacifism or Retro Evolved. Somehow, the fact that some of the modes can theoretically be played in bite-sized chunks only makes matters worse. For a game that only lasts three minutes, it’s frightening how easy it is to waste ten times that in Deadline without thinking.
The other reason to get Retro Evolved 2 is the new multiplayer option, with each game mode playable by up to four players on a single console, either working in teams or with every man for himself. The lack of online play is still a little upsetting, but gather some mates around your house and there’s still plenty of potential for evenings to be lost, with or without the involvement of beer and pizza.
Given all this and the low, low price, Retro Evolved 2 is unmissable. In fact, the only reason I’d urge you to miss it is that it’s summer, and there might be some sunshine out there and with it the chance to do something more worthwhile with your time than blasting small and annoying geometric shapes into glowing particles. If you do buy Retro Evolved 2 your chances of enjoying such things could well be cut down to zero. This would be a shame. So buy Retro Evolved 2 by all means – it really is great – but make sure you have a friend, family member or partner who can drag you away from the screen every once in a while. There’s more to life than a high score table after all.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got places to go and people to see. But first, I’m just going to give that blinking Sequence mode just one more go….
Gorgeous, perfectly balanced and ludicrously addictive, Retro Evolved 2 is the new high water mark for old-school arcade shooters. Buy it, but don’t you say I didn’t warn you…