Worms Open Warfare 2 (Nintendo DS) Review

By Matthew Evans 24.11.2007 1

Okay, in true QI fashion let's clear up some general ignorance about worms. Contradictory to popular belief when you cut a worm in half you don't get two worms, worms are not an advisable method of weight loss, and finally unlike what certain games companies are trying to tell you worms don't wage war with a vast arsenal. Now that's over let's start talking about worms waging war...with a vast arsenal...ahh nuts.

I'm a big Worms fan, I got in on the action when it first came out for the PC all those years ago and it was an absolute gem, it had an appeal and charm that is almost extinct from modern games. Perhaps it was the simplistic pixilated graphics, the no-nonsense gameplay, the actual premise of having a worm dragon-punching a rival worm over a cliff edge or perhaps its all of the above. All I know was that I spent endless, joyful hours on that PC with my friends and siblings typing obscenities into the map generator and playing whatever level the game threw at us. Now that was many years ago and in that time there've been many iterations of Worms, but for some reason after Worms: Armageddon it all started going downhill. If it wasn't the gameplay not translating to 3D it was lag and poor design crippling other efforts. So taking that into consideration how does Worms Open Warfare 2 stand?

Like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky VI, it stands stronger than its previous outing but when the final bell rings he's still not as sturdy as he was against Captain Ivan Drago. The game is extremely polished for a Worms title and there are very few details that haven't been refined. The graphics are good, bright and colourful with some very well done 3D backgrounds, the sound is crisp, the music is fitting and the voice work (well, worms making weird noises) is perfectly audible.

Screenshot for Worms Open Warfare 2 on Nintendo DS

The gameplay has been equally honed, worms move seamlessly across the battlefield, the physics are more accurate making precision jumping and aiming all the better. Weapons are quickly and efficiently selected from the user friendly menu and utilised in a much better and more varied way than its cruder ancestors. The single player campaign flows with a precise difficulty scaling that never makes it frustrating and each mission blends into the next with a simple but effective narrative and some nice FMV sequences showing how you progress from battlefield to the other. There's a fair selection of puzzles where by you've got to achieve a certain objective by using the limited tools at your disposal.

The game is feature packed and makes use of every single aspect of the DS. Missions are played out over both screens with the main stylus or d-pad controlled action happening on the touch screen (well duh..) and the upper screen either being used to add additional height to the map or show a basic but functional map with all the worms and power-ups viewable. There's packs of mini-games which use the mic to help keep a parachuting worm afloat, the stylus to control explosions which send your worm hurtling across the screen as you attempt to get him/her/it to the end or by using the stylus to draw pieces of land to control his progress to the end. There is a also a wealth of unlockables, ranging from new voices to customise your worms with (particularly appealing to the type of person who would spend the price of a CD single on a midi-ringtone version of the same song) all the way to new campaigns.

Screenshot for Worms Open Warfare 2 on Nintendo DS

But that's all single player, which like a Sudoku book can be quite fun but ultimately gets boring and lonely. What you and the game needs are friends; now I know being on a forum some of you may not have 'real' friends but worry not, Team17 has been nice enough to pack out the multiplayer side with WiFi connectivity so you can play against that hot girl you met online, and even better the mic doesn't work so you'll never find out it's actually a 40 year old guy on the other handset. Multicard play is surprisingly good, it's rarely laggy whether you are playing four foot away over the local WiFi or four miles away via the internet. What's even more surprising is how crap the single-card multiplayer is. I know we shouldn't look a gift-horse in the mouth, and it is nice of them to provide us with the option of giving a demo version to our friends so you can play with only the one card, but it's buggy, it crashes and it freezes one of your DS'. How a small two-player map can timeout when the other person is within spitting distance yet works bloody well over a couple of miles is completely bizarre. Anyway, multiplayer is very good, it plays and feels like a single player skirmish but with the extra fun of playing against a non-AI opponent. The thing is that it still has that niggling issue from the single player.

Screenshot for Worms Open Warfare 2 on Nintendo DS

I suppose I best be straight with you. I actually know what's wrong with the game and anyone who's being paying attention to the review will have realised this already and figured out the problem. Excluding the single card multiplayer issue this game is technically perfect and that is the crux of the problem, it is too technical. As great as the original game was, part of what made it fun was the crappiness of it, Worms Open Warfare 2 is so polished its covered the cracks and the sheen has taken away the smudges which gave the series the personality flaws we all loved. Gone is the chaotic nature, the guesstimation, the spawny shots, the fun! It's all accurate missile arcs, precise grenade timings, pixel perfect jumping and stiff upper congratulations on a battle well fought. The pixel perfect jumping I have great disdain for, that and many other cheap tricks are employed in the puzzles and campaigns to make the game harder. It takes you a minute or two to work out what you are meant to do but twenty minutes to actually pull it off - that's not fun, that's cold, heartless, efficient level design and is sacrilege to the enjoyable, feel good nature that the original games instilled.

Worms Open Warfare 2 is a well put together game with few technical misgivings and even then the one big glitch is on a feature most other companies don't even give you. Sadly to achieve this level of flawless beauty it's sold its soul to the god of clinical game design and in this reviewer's opinion a game needs a heart to be perfect, which is exactly what this one is lacking.

Screenshot for Worms Open Warfare 2 on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

It's a good game, it's enjoyable and the dragon's hoard of extra content definitely makes it a worthwhile purchase - but it's awful as a Worms game. The unadulterated fun of the originals have been replaced by a very calculating and methodical game design which lacks that spark of imagination and personality and prevents this from being a near perfect game. Oh my lord, I'm sounding like my dad when he compares his record collection to his CDs.

Developer

Team 17

Publisher

THQ

Genre

Strategy

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I enjoyed this game as well, it's one of the best on DS Lite, and the main reason that I play more DS than Wii these days :Smilie also the multiplayer works like a breeze.

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