Worms: Open Warfare 2 Review (PSP)

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Publisher: THQ
Developer: Team 17

Platforms: PSP, DS
Reviewed on PSP

A cheeky group of worms with a penchant for combat and the advantage of disembodied hands are taking on every enemy worm, with an assortment of strange weapons. They're prepared to do whatever it takes to seize every battlefield, even if it means breaking out the holy hand grenade.

Kyle Ackerman

Last year, THQ brought Worms: Open Warfare to the DS and PSP, not only bringing the classic Worms franchise of annelid armed conflict to the latest generation of handhelds, but also returning Worms' turn-based combat to its traditional 2D. It was a relief to return to the age-old 2D perspective that got Worms started, and escape the recent attempts to make worm warfare 3D. At the same time, the first Worms: Open Warfare was an incomplete experience.

Worms: Open Warfare 2 has brought the handheld Worms experience to fruition. Most of all, both the DS and PSP versions of the game include online competitive play, allowing you to test your skills against real foes instead of only facing AI opponents. This handheld sequel also refines the controls, adds more weapons and introduces a variety of play modes, making this game comparable to the heyday of Worms battles on the PC.

Keep Your Battles Small

The Worms formula is straightforward. For more than a decade, players have been able to grab a group of four cute (and psychotic) worms, arm them with an assortment of devastatingly absurd weapons, and send them into the fray against another force of four worms. The teams take turns, with worms getting a few seconds to move, aim and fire a weapon. Weapons and devices range from the ninja rope and jetpack that can be used to move around the map to air strikes, grenades, and exploding sheep that can be used to eliminate enemies.

Worms: Open Warfare 2 takes players through a campaign that spans every era of modern warfare, starting with piratical combat, working through World War I and the Cold War, and finally delving right into futuristic space battles. After a few maps in which you eliminate enemy squads, you'll face the commander of each time in a battle that's more puzzle than tactical combat. The levels remain interesting as the time available for each turn gets shorter. There's even more of that type of clever puzzle in the Puzzle mode, that presents a long series of challenges requiring you to use specific weapons and tools in combinations you need to unravel yourself, instead of freeform battles.

Two Big Eyes, A Segmented Body and Armed to the Teeth
(If Only They Had Teeth)

Much of the appeal of playing Worms comes from the cutesy worms themselves, and Worms: Open Warfare 2 supports a lot of customization options. In the tradition of other Worms games, you can name your team and individual worms, choose their flag, color, tombstones and victory dance. There's a broad selection of voice cues ranging from cybernetic worms to angry Scots and Brooklyn worms. And even more can be unlocked through play.

The rest of the appeal of this turn-based tactical experience comes from the bizarre weaponry. Grenades and bazookas are the mainstays of the annelid arsenal, but shotguns and exploding sheep keep things interesting. Worms: Open Warfare 2 adds a few new weapons, like the boomerang (it comes back!), the vicious "Buffalo of Lies" and a lightning strike that can resurrect fallen worms. For the most part, Worms: Open Warfare 2 is still just a Worms game. The faithful will enjoy it, but it's not exactly a transformation. The one weapon that changed play for me is the electromagnet that can be placed on the map to attract or repel other weapons. This electromagnet can be used to construct a horrific trap or supreme defensive field.

A Worm in the Online Space

The game looks vastly better on the PSP screen, but that is far from the only way in which the PSP version of Worms: Open Warfare 2 is the better option. Certainly, the cut-scenes are more than a cut above their appearance on the DS, but the increased screen resolution makes the game easier to play. You can actually see the worms' victory dances, and even play the game while zoomed out enough to see the whole map. Even the backgrounds are better. More importantly, the PSP sports a horizontal screen compared to the DS' vertical set-up. While there are a few vertical maps, battlefields in Worms: Open Warfare 2 tend to scroll horizontally. That means that the PSP is just a better platform for getting a view of the entire battlefield.

Instead of the Laboratory mode found in the DS version, the PSP version sports a Time Attack mode. The only problem with the Time Attack levels (that are, essentially, time-limited puzzle levels) is that they aren't available when you initially start the game, so you'll have to play through a bit of the campaign, first. Online play on the PSP offers a lot more options than the simple connection of the DS version of Worms: Open Warfare 2.

Ultimately, Worms: Open Warfare 2 refines the handheld Worms formula, polishing it to the point that handheld gamers can enjoy the cutesy, tactical combat. You might have given the original Worms: Open Warfare a pass, but Worms: Open Warfare 2 is enough of an improvement that it's worth jumping into combat,though it's still a better experience on the PSP.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on September 28, 2007 11:54 PM.

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