Worms has been about as a series since the times of the Amiga, their games always maintaining a status of 'good', aside a debatable dip in quality due to a leap into the third dimension in recent years. It was probably only a matter of time before they took to the Nintendo DS, and in doing so they revert back to their 2D roots. Can it live up to the other great versions in the series? Find out as we open up the can on Worms: Open Warfare...
The story's simple: there is no story. As has always been the case in Worms, your aim is purely to annihilate the competing team of slimy land crawlers. Given a number of worms, each possessing some semblance of training in the arts of war, you shoot, punch and explode your way to victory within a strict time limit using a reasonable arsenal. Matches are turn-based, with each worm on each team getting a time-limited go in a 'round robin' style. The turn ends when you have used an offensive weapon or have caused yourself some damage in some way, and the game ends when the opponents' graves litter the arena. That, in a small, tightly packed clod of dirt, is Worms.
Those who have played Worms in the past will probably have been joyful upon hearing about Worms coming to the DS. After all - touch screen? Worms? You'd think the two would go hand in hand, wouldn't you? It saddens us to say, then, that the touch abilities are restricted to selecting weaponry on the bottom screen, and moving about the camera, with the d-pad used to move about (left and right) and aim (up and down), while A and B handle jumping and using items respectively. This is all fair enough really and works well once you're into it, but it's a little disappointing that the touch screen isn't used in a more involving fashion, such as clicking the exact direction you want to fire in without messing with and adjusting with the d-pad.
Humour has always played a huge part in the Worms series, and Open Warfare doesn't disappoint in this respect. The actions of the worms are comical (such as strapping on ninja headbands when preparing to deal out a nasty Dragon Punch) and the memorable sound effects are all back and present. When in pain, the critters let out pitiful wails and 'ow's, and of course the smack-talking makes a welcome return. You can select from a fair amount of different voices that the worms use, from Italian accents to Raging Scotsmen, right through to Rednecks and Cyberworms, and each has a pleasant number of phrases associated with them. They don't really get old (unless you're in a particularly stressful situation in-game), and we're particularly fond of the Scouse worms.
Adverse to the sound and humour, visually it’s not up to much, to be honest - while it looks quite swanky in parts (or as swanky as you can get with Worms, really), there are other areas where it doesn’t hold up quite so well. It’s quite easy to point out the Worms sprites as being a bit too pixelated, and the images on screens between matches are really quite terrible, with choppy edges. None of this particularly affects gameplay, but it might’ve been nice to see a bit more effort in parts of it.
Gameplay is pretty much classic Worms, which is good news all round, and the environments continue to be randomised, meaning you're not likely to get the same match twice. Weapon selection is also satisfactory, with a range of offensive weapons, from the serious (the double-shooting shotgun) to the close combat (uppercut them into the sea with a Fire Punch!) to the comedic (Sheep Bomb, which runs about upon release and explodes on your command. Baa!), to the items to ease your movement a bit (ninja ropes, jet packs, teleportation devices...). There are, however, some fairly big annoyances. Number one: the artificial intelligence. If a sensible or plausible move isn't available easily to the CPU worm, it will quite happily sit there with a huge question mark above its head for the entirety of its turn. Essentially, it plays the game that people like to call 'time wasting', since the matches are on a constant timer (if it runs down, all worms' health zips down to a big fat '1' and it's a sudden death battle - take too long and the ocean will rise and drown them, too). It can get very irritating and it’s difficult to work out if the computer is being stupid in not finding a move or if it’s being far too clever for its own good and purposefully time-wasting. Number two: back-flipping is infuriating until mastered. To back-flip (thus jumping higher than you would with a standard jump) you must tap the jump button twice quickly. Great plan, since it’s just a variation of the jump, until you realise that sometimes the game just doesn’t recognise both button presses and you’ve just lurched yourself forward into the ocean. Back-flipping could have been mapped onto the spare face button, Y, but it is not. It’s these things that seem like little things that end up affecting the game’s playability vastly.
Multiplayer is without a doubt the highlight of the package, with up to four people able to slog it out on separate DS' using download play, or four are able to play with the same DS by passing it around. When you use multiplayer at least one annoyance, that of time-wasting, evaporates (unless you're playing with some bloody annoying people), which makes everything flow much better than in single player mode. The playing field is evened a bit in playing against other humans as well, as sometimes the CPU can be hideously accurate with their shots - it’s far nicer to see some human error mixed in there, too. It would’ve been nice to have the game Wi-Fi enabled. You can’t have everything, we suppose...
One last thing to take into account may have DS owners rubbing their eyes in disbelief - there are loading times. We’re not talking a second of loading time, there’s about 10 seconds at a time, certainly enough to warrant a loading screen of a goofy looking worm taunting you with an hour glass. Cartridges are supposed to have a superb data transfer rate, and Worms isn’t the kind of game that takes up loads of space surely - so why do these load times exist before every match?
For the most part, Worms: Open Warfare is a fun game, but there are just some blips on its record that keep it from being as great as it could’ve been. If you’re a DS gamer in need of some Worms lovin’, you should definitely give it some strong consideration.
Classic Worms gameplay, with unfortunate added annoyances that might've been fixed reasonably easily.
Pixelated in parts but functional, and there's some great visual humour to be had from them.
The voices are brilliant as always, and the various weapon sounds are satisfyingly nasty.
Quite a few challenges to get through in single player, and multiplayer mode doesn't get old unless the back-flipping issue angers people so much that they never want to play again.
If you're into Worms and similar games, Open Warfare is the game for you. As long as you take into account that it isn't perfect, there are several problems with it and you don't expect it to be Earth-shattering, you'll probably be satisfied with what's on offer here. Perhaps these issues could be cleaned up next time Team 17 want to pluck worms out of the ground for a sequel...
:( Seems like a wasted oppertunity, ah well.
Just to act as devil's advocate, the time before each round isn't actually Loading Time, it's the time it takes the game to draw the landscape. This waiting time has existed in all worms games since the Amiga.
Not that I liked the game, mind. I took it back after my worm fell through the floor. (and much more)
All in all, a well written review showing the best and worst of the game, without turning into a 10 page rant like most would've done.
Yea, I've played other worms games before, and even though I did enjoy the multiplayer on this game, my DS could be dead from my frustrations at not being able to backflip :-(
I really would have liked this to be wi-fi enabled as that could have been fun, or better graphics even... I know the DS screen is a lot smaller than a PC, but that didn't mean they had to make the graphics all crappy...
I might review this, picked it up yesterday, I really like it, but it's not as good as Worms 2. Which was release who knows how long ago, I think they've had time to improve, but they didn't, they got Worms 2 & took a whole load of stuff OUT of it :-(
Oh well, I still love it, I havn't played it much, need to play it more!!
EDIT 2: Soz to triple post, but I just read a little more of it, I've never seemed to have trouble with backflipping :-D Infact I love the backflip system, my biggest problem is pressing B when I want to Jump... then I lose my turn & sometimes fall into the sea from accidentally shooting a bazooka!
Backflipping is fine...when it doesn't recognise it as a normal jump.