Worms: Open Warfare 2 Review
The jump to 3D has reinvigorated many classic gaming series; the extra dimension has breathed new life into mainstays such as Zelda, Metroid and Metal Gear. For some franchises though, the attempt to transfer their core gameplay into the third dimension has been met with scorn, failure and in some cases its killed the franchise off entirely. Old favourites Lemmings and Sonic are two series that have struggled to retain the core values (and core audience) that made them so popular in the first place. The Worms franchise is another that has dabbled with 3D, but thankfully, after the disappointing Worms 3D and Forts titles creators Team 17 returned the series to its roots. The Xbox Live version and last year’s Open Warfare may have left some fans deflated – thanks to greatly reduced options and the absence of some key weaponry – but the series is back with a bang with possibly the best title to date.
Open Warfare 2 more than makes up for its lacklustre predecessor, all the staple weapons are back and the single-player options have been padded out quite nicely. Alongside the regular death match mode, Team 17 have added new campaign options and a few mini-games that are great fun in multiplayer. The new puzzle mode – a series of challenges designed to test your skills with each weapon – could have been turned into a separate game had it been fleshed out a little more and provides a lot of fun outside regular battles. Likewise, the Challenge mode is also engaging and should give veterans a good place to hone their tactics.
Not to be outdone, the multiplayer side has also been spruced up to make battling friends or strangers as addictive as ever. Online modes are more stable now and the amount of options available should satisfy virtually any desires you may have. You can even send a small ‘demo’ to a friend if they want to try out the game for themselves which is a great addition and one that should help bring new players to the series.
For those of you who like to have a personalised Worm army, customising your team (and individual worms) is far easier. On top of traditional options, hats (the only major aesthetical addition) are now available to further differentiate your worms from your opponents, which is very handy on the smaller handheld screens. Strangely the game now cuts out any team/worm name it deems to be a swear word – presumably to keep little Timmy from having to play against ‘Arse biters United’ in an online match – so don’t be surprised if your less sanitary sounding worms all appear to be called ‘XXXX’.
While presentation wasn’t a problem in the first title, the graphics, menus and sound have all had a lick of paint, resulting in one of the nicest looking 2D PSP games so far. The cut scenes interspersed between fights contain the same sense of comic humour the series has become famous for and the PSP screen is a perfect fit for the bright, colourful battlefields so it’s great to see Team 17 really bump up the graphical quality for this game. They’ve also rejigged the controls to better fit the PSP’s button layout so it’s even easier to dish out annelid annihilation. Zooming in and out of the battlefield with the shoulder buttons is quicker and smoother than previously and without the juddering that affected the first game and the analogue stick is now used to scroll around on the fly.
The few problems that exist with Open Warfare 2 are pretty much endemic to the whole series; matches can take ages when CPU teams are involved and the AI can still waver between amazing and dumb-ass from one turn to the next. It also would have been nice to have a save option mid-battle given the portable nature of the format.
Still, with its tight controls, excellent presentation and a wealth of options, Worms: Open Warfare 2 is a must have for any Worms fanatics out there and is a perfect introduction to anyone who has never tried the series before.