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April 21, 2006
Worms: Open Warfare - PSP Review
Release Date Distributor Publisher Developer
27/4/2006THQTHQTeam 17
Save Size Difficulty Players Rating

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Back in 2D and as good as ever.
A couple of weeks ago we reviewed an updated PSP version of one of the greatest puzzle games of the 16-bit era, Lemmings. It was a solid update of a classic puzzle/strategy game which saw you trying to rescue the dumbest of creatures. During the early 1990’s there was another game that earned just as much respect, Worms. This time you had a battle on your hands, and had to try and kill the creatures. As was the case with Lemmings the release of Worms: Open Warfare has seen a shift back to 2D graphics from the 3D graphics seen in the later versions – and is all the better for it.

For those unaware Worms is a game which follows the fortunes of teams of, ermm, worms who are at war. The object is simple, after selecting your team you head into battle and try to kill the opposition before they kill you. Last man standing wins. Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? Well let me tell you this turn based game can get pretty frantic, and certainly very tough.

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In terms of gameplay this really is a glorified version of Scorched Earth. Do you remember that game from 1991? Sure you do. That game gave two players a tank in a world and each player had to fire on the other, taking into consideration the terrain and wind. First person to destroy the opposition wins. Worms is very similar except that each player has a team of four worms, and takes turns moving one worm around the level before firing his weapon at the enemy. It’s important to consider that the opponent will have the next turn, so ensuring you’re also in a position of cover from the next round of fire is critical to success. Remaining out in the open makes you a sitting duck. As with Scorched Earth when you do fire your weapon you not only have to take into consideration the surrounding terrain, but also the wind. Fire a missile gently into a strong breeze and it is likely to glide back to your position and blow you up instead of the opponent.

What makes this game so entertaining is that it isn’t just a turn based title, but it has a wicked sense of humour. Just looking at the list of weapons is enough to get you smiling. Sure there are grenades, shotguns and bazooka’s but you’re also equipped with exploding sheep, blowtorches and banana bombs to name a few! Your worms also have a range of equipment to help them move around the maps including jet packs, girders and grappling hooks and if you start to run out the game is often kind enough to drop some packages around the level to help you out.

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Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph the series has returned to it’s 2D roots. Recent PS2 titles such as Worms 4: Mayhem used 3D graphics which not only made it hard to judge the distance to enemies, view the game world and generally complicated what should be a simplistic game. Fortunately Worms: Open Warfare's 2D gameplay makes it easier to see everything at once, easier to form an attack strategy and easier to determine the best weapon to use, angle to fire on and power to apply. I'm not saying it's an easy game - actually it can be tough - however the gameplay is just so much more enjoyable.

While the single player game is solid with options for quick or customized matches it’s when you hit multi-player that this game comes into its own. The game uses the PSP Ad Hoc mode for up to 4-players to battle it out which removes the issues with CPU AI (more on that soon). While there is no Game Sharing mode the developers have included an option share a single PSP, and given that it's a turn based game isn't such a big issue.

There are some areas in Worms: Open Warfare that I would have loved to see changed. Firstly the number of weapons and items seems to have dropped from PS2 versions of the game. I could handle the number dropping however the developers didn't even attempt to add in some new, PSP exclusive, items and weapons. This could have added a bit more variety and freshness to the mix. There's also some small load times as well as delays as the AI tries to figure out its move. Speaking of AI it really needed some more balancing. At times the Worms make almost impossible shots with no previous experience to gauge the wind or power, and then on occasion they’ll make the dumbest of errors leading to their own demise!

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Worm 3 is about to be hit...
We've already mentioned that the game has gone to a 2D style, and the graphically the game is certainly impressive. I'm so glad Team 17, for one reason or another, have given up on the 3D graphics - perhaps due to the PSP's limitations, perhaps due to the constant calls to return the series to the original style. The presentation throughout the entire game is top notch with varied backgrounds and good levels to battle on.

Sound is another area where the developers have remained faithful to previous games in the series. The music and effects are both comical and uplifting, but always quite good in quality.

If you never liked the previous Worms games then this probably isn’t the game for you – although the switch back to 2D makes it quite a different experience to the newer, and inferior, 3D versions. If you do like Worms titles, then Worms: Open Warfare is a fine title to add to your PSP collection.

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICS2D graphics look wonderful, very solid presentation throughout.
SOUNDPlenty of amusing sounds makes this a very solid audio experience.
GAMEPLAYIt may be familiar to older gamers, but is still tremendous fun.
VALUEMultiplayer could be better, new weapons should have been included.
OVERALLWorms: Open Warfare is a worthy addition to any PSP collection for fans of the series. The shift back to 2D has done wonders for the game - and I can only hope future home console versions also return. A great game.

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