The biggest winner is “Pacifism,” in which your firepower is disabled altogether. You’re not totally helpless: flying through floating gates will cause them to detonate and blast any nearby enemies to smithereens. This seat-of-your-pants gameplay combined with the ludicrous number of enemies on screen results in a giddy, sustained chase — not to mention ridiculously high scores. As of this writing, the top Pacifism score was over 1.4 billion.
A purely skill-based game like Geometry Wars 2 requires two qualities above all: balance and polish. It succeeds on the first count by being brutally challenging, but never unfairly so — this is the kind of game you’re already restarting before you’ve finished cursing it out. The polish comes from the pinpoint controls, the fast-moving and brightly colored visuals, and a thumping soundtrack. Geometry Wars 2 has the high score on both counts.