SONY PSP REVIEW: WORMS: OPEN WARFARE

Worms is back, and it's back to basics for the turn-based strategy game in the latest in the series: Open Warfare. by Greg Yu

April 10, 2006 - This game is being released for the first time on the PSP and the Nintendo DS. For my money the PSP version is the one to purchase or rent. It's much better looking, the controls are easier to use and the wider screen format makes the game appear to be about twice the size of the DS version.

Worms is a basic, but incredibly fun, strategy game. It features teams of wacky cartoon worms doing battle with rival worms in a fight to the finish. Unlike many turn-based strategy games such as Civilization, Battleground, Heroes of Might and Magic, and to a lesser extent Advance War, Worms is a hell of a lot easier to get the hang of, especially if you've never played a turn-based strategy game before. Turn-based means that each player takes a turn making a move, such as occurs in checkers or chess. In fact you could compare Worms to checkers the way the aforementioned games would be compared to chess.

In Open Warfare, the Worms series returns to its 2D roots after a disappointing rendezvous with the third dimension on the next-gen console. The PSP's wide screen is perfect for the 2D battlefield. You can zoom in to get a better look at the terrain which is filled with all kinds of booby traps and pitfalls, or you can zoom out to see both factions in action. The environments look like the kind of surreal landscapes that cartoonists would dream about. They are nicely rendered and full of color but they also contain edges and ledges that could cause your worm soldiers to land in the water. You also have to be on guard against mines and other explosives that the enemy may have planted on your territory.

This brings me to the weapons. Each side has approximately 20 weapons, which is less than the number of weapons available in console versions but at least there's a good assortment. They range from the sublime to the ridiculous. We're talking machineguns, bazookas, grenades and homing missiles in addition to banana bombs and exploding sheep. The humor element is always present in Worms and it's always used to good effect. Not only is the exploding sheep a great comedic device, it's also a very effective weapon that can cause plenty of damage.

Each turn is a minute long. During that turn you select you weapon, make your move and fire. You then have five seconds to retreat. You are basically allowed to fire only one shot but there are ways in which you can trigger combos and cause more extensive damage. For instance, you could launch an enemy into the air and have him land on a mine that you placed there previously thereby causing a "free" explosion.

Long and short-ranged weapons are at your disposal. When using the long-ranged weapons you have to take into account the trajectory and the wind. Weapons can also be affected by a certain "cartoon" physics which makes things such as grenades bounce like rubber balls. Worms can also get hung up on parts of the environment which can be devastating if you're trying to get away after planting a bomb or mine.

When playing against the AI you'll notice that it's usually pretty weak or suspiciously accurate. It's terribly unbalanced. Sometime the enemy will not only miss its target, but it will end up standing in the line of fire becoming a very easy target to hit. Other times the enemy will pick you off so cleanly that you'll be certain that the CPU automatically trigged the higher difficulty setting. Thankfully there are multi-player modes where you can play against less-than-perfect humans that are a few notches above stupid.

Open Warfare is pretty skimpy on the modes. As far as the single-player modes go there is one-off battle that requires no extra commitment, and the challenge mode which features tiered battles that get more complex as you go. The multi-player component is not very player-friendly. First of all there is no online mode. You can only access this mode locally. Secondly, each player requires a copy of the game. Good luck finding four players with their own copy of this game. If you do manage to find a few people to play with you'll notice that you can't be as free with your moves as you could be in the single-player mode since being foolhardy and taking unnecessary risks could affect the other worms on your team. I'm not saying this isn't as much fun, it's just a different style of strategy that you have to master.

Open Warfare is not a perfect game but it's got a lot going for it. It's a great debut on the PSP and even if you're not a strategy buff, it's easy enough to learn and highly recommended for a rental.

Features:

  • · The unique "Two-and-a-half dimensional environments" of the PSP means that the player has althe attractiveness of 3D environments, but without complex camera mechanics or the problems of locating enemies.
  • A full overhaul of the balancing of weapons and AI engines Streamlined menu system and play modes, tailored especially to suit the needs of mobile gamers inc the addition of mid-mission saves for the first time means that gamers on the move needn't lose the progress they've made in either single or multiplayer games.
  • Multiplayer mode allowing up to four players using one unit (hot seat).
  • Multiplayer mode via WIFI technology allowing connection of 4 units.
  • Worms features a huge collection of favourite Worms weapons.
  • Five all-new graphical themes, with randomly generated landscapes.

By Greg Yu
CCC Freelance Writer

Rating out of 5
Worms: Open Warfare (PSP)
4.3
Graphics
Brightly colored environments look like a cartoonist's dream.
4.1
Control
Regardless of how good or bad you are, the single player mode will mess with your head with its manic personality.
3.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Prepare for some big laughs. But once you've seen and heard all of the gags, you'll want a little peace and quiet.
4.2
Play Value
If you can find some other players with copies of this game you'll give it a new lease on life.
4.2
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: PSP
Dev: Team 17
Pub: THQ
Release: Apr 2006
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Greg

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best