Worms: Open Warfare. DS: Review
Wednesday, April 5, 2006
Worms: Open Warfare
Nintendo DS (THQ)
By David Simpson
Worms is an odd beast. No, not the creatures, the games. The concept, simple though it may be, is that you have two teams of worms who are fighting over territory. But they do not use dirt and their mighty forms as we would assume. (That is if worms actually do have territorial fights!) No, instead, they use all manner of firepower more suited to a Vietnam movie.
First developed for the Amiga computer, the game soon was seen everywhere and went on to win almost every major award that was going. As the consoles took control of the market Worms began to show up there, most notably on the Playstation and Playstation 2 formats, that boasted no less than eight games between them. However, just like with Lemmings the developers, Team 17, moved away from the simplicity and tried to create 3D versions of their popular characters. They both failed.
I will go on record and say I was never a big fan of the Worms game. When it was first released, I saw it as a cheap rip-off of the classic Lemmings game, mixed in with a little Populous and other God/Sim-City type games. I never wanted to play it and thought I never would. Until today.
With the DS and the PSP, one major gripe has been the glut of ‘remake’ or ‘updates’ of older games. With Nintendo digging in their bags and retrieving Tetris and Sony finding Lemmings it was only time before one of them came across Worms for an update. (Both in this case. This game is also available on the PSP)
I can only say that I am so glad that my mind is not tarnished with nostalgia. I was able to play this game without thinking ‘Oh they ruined such-and-such!’ I took to the game as if it had only ever been released. And was I impressed?
Well, yes and no.
I enjoyed this game a lot more than I thought I would. Having never enjoyed games of this nature (Cannonfodder, Sims etc) I believed I would hate it. I didn’t. The graphics were specks of dust, as I vaguely remembered them being. However, on the DS screen this helped add to the charm of the game. By them not trying to overstretch the machine with their characters, they were able to add so much more to the backgrounds and terrain the worms were on.
Note: However, I would recommend the use of any magnifier/screen enlarger that you can. At times the screen will seem unstable with colours, graphics, flashing away erratically. This makes for irritating play and at times causes major eye strain.
The sound and music is typical of the genre in that it neither adds nor subtracts from the game. With the usual addictive sound wallpaper steps quite close to irritating, without actually crossing the line. Effects of the game add to the fun of blowing up little dots and in some cases, most of the surrounding area with it.
The controls are perfect, if a little sensitive at times. This can be a problem in later levels, but they are easily accessible and add to the pick-up-and-play aspect to the game. I always love the touch screen elements of DS games and am delighted that this one did not fail to impress.
The game itself progresses through a number of challenges and this is where we come to the one of the major negatives of the game. The challenges are fairly basic, which at first can be forgiven and thought to be just a learning curve, until we progress and see that they are more or less the same challenges (albeit slightly different) over and over again eg. 4 worm against 4 worms, 4 worm against 3 worms etc etc. This becomes even more frustrating when you realise that the AI of the opponent worms seem to only have a certain number of tactical moves and many of which involve committing mass suicide of their own team. It is unknown whether this is a programming problem or whether this is just intentional.
Note: I like cheating in games as much as the next guy. But when you have the programmers actually helping you win, then it just doesn’t feel right and ultimately leads to many confusing games.
As the DS has progressed we have noticed it concentrating more and more on the multiple player aspect of its games. It is with this that the game has the biggest strength. The game offers up to four players playing on a system network using the single cartridge "Download Play" function of the Nintendo DS. This is a perfect way to play the game and in many ways a lot more fun than the actual game itself. The only problem with this is that only the DS with the original cartridge is able to use their created Worms Team. Unlike other games that offer creation aspects (such as Smackdown’s Create a Wrestler or Lemmings PSP’s create a level) and allow you to use them online against other people, this makes the whole creation aspect seem redundant.
Overall, the game is enjoyable. However, there is a feeling that it did not reach the potential that it should have done. As a single-player game it falls a little short, but as a multiplayer it hits all the right buttons. Almost. For those looking for a fun half an hour of harmless, strategic war, they can do far worse than this game.
(Game Supplied for review by THQ)
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