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PSP Review - 'Worms: Open Warfare 2'

by Tim McCullough on Oct. 25, 2007 @ 3:15 a.m. PDT

In Worms: Open Warfare 2 players will be able to challenge others from all over the world via multiplayer battles using a wireless connection as they command their worms through clashes that take place in famous battles of the past, as well as fictional fights of the future.

Genre: Turn-Based Strategy
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Team 17
Release Date: September 4, 2007

The Worms franchise has been around now for about 13 years, and it's still going strong. The primary game hasn't changed much over the years; new maps and weapons and some graphical improvements are the only things that usually differentiate new releases. Despite the game's repetitiveness, the Worms series has a considerable following due to its combination of simplistic rules, intuitive interface and an engaging level of strategy.

Worms is a turn-based warfare game where you must engage in team combat against a rival team using a large assortment of weapons. Some weapons are designed for melee combat, while others are made for long-ranged attacks. Some fired weapons will arc, while others will shoot fairly straight. Choosing the best weapon to attack an opponent worm and setting the angle and amount power to use is where Worms: Open Warfare 2 becomes a challenge to play.

Worms 2 includes several game modes including campaign, puzzle, quick play and time attack. New game maps can be easily created using the built-in map editor, or you can even download new maps online through the multiplayer infrastructure mode. Although the game has a quick learning curve, a set of three tutorials and a firing range will assist new and veteran players with understanding the basic elements of gameplay and the new assortment of weapons at their disposal.

In campaign mode, you'll unlock increasingly challenging levels of gameplay against different worm teams. This mode includes several cut scenes that transport you to different combat eras (map levels). You'll usually encounter a "boss" worm that you'll be required to beat in order to advance to the next level. In puzzle mode, you'll spend your time figuring out how to best accomplish a pre-established task. More puzzles are unlocked as you successfully complete puzzles. The time attack mode has you getting your team to an exit point as soon as possible, before time runs out. Favorite levels can be revisited anytime after they've been unlocked.

Playing a typical game of Worms 2 is fairly straightforward. War is waged in an orderly fashion, with each worm taking a turn within an allotted amount of time to fire a weapon, use a tool or to crawl to a new location. The first team to destroy all members of the other team wins. A countdown timer is present during each worm's turn to alert the player about the time remaining for action. One of the few complaints about Worms is that the timers can often negatively affect the rhythm of the game. It was often frustrating to attempt to keep up — or down, as it were — with the pace of the game. I often found myself button-tapping to advance the game, only to have one of my button presses buffered so that I performed an unintentional action during the next turn.

Worms 2 contains no fewer than 33 different weapons and tools to assist in conquering opponents. The items don't necessarily appear on all maps; sometimes items have unlimited availability, while other times, you might only have one of a particular item. Most new weapons and tools can be claimed from crates that are scattered throughout the map.

Aside from the obvious satisfaction you receive when taking out an opponent worm, Worms 2 includes a reward system that allows you to cash in credits you've earned by successfully completing the tutorials and winning games. By going to the "Worms Shop," you can select items in four different categories (customization, landscapes, missions and weapons) to add new content to the game or unlock for play. My favorite items to purchase are the worm hats, which can be worn in-game.

In Worms 2, you have the ability to customize a large amount of the game content. The team manager allows you to create multiple teams that can be selected in-game, and a scheme manager allows you to customize the game rules to your liking. You can even create your own team flags and map landscapes using the built-in content editors. Just as learning how to play Worms is a fairly easy task, learning to use the game editors is also a simple and intuitive process.

Although the game is easy to learn, you'll spend a considerable amount of time learning to be productive with the numerous weapons. Judging the amount of power and the proper trajectory for each weapon is an experience in trial and error. At certain times, the AI can seem unforgiving in its ability to properly use the weapons. It's possible to occasionally catch a break, though; I did experience a few "poor" decisions on the part of the AI, but not enough to make the game easy.

Cartoon styling and cute, comical animations have been a trademark feature of the Worms franchise, and the tradition continues in Worms 2. Each map includes an animated backdrop that is proportioned to constantly remind you of how small you are in the game world. The gameplay and design of the maps are well suited to the wide-screen design of the PSP. You'll still need to zoom out to see the entire playfield, although there is considerably less in-game side-scrolling required with the PSP display. The cartoon graphics appear to be softened slightly, which looks nice and adds a slight 3D quality to an otherwise strictly 2D game.

Sound effects are great and add significantly to the enjoyment and satisfaction of conquering your opponent. The worms' high-pitched taunts and comments (another cornerstone of the franchise) are often hilarious and seem to have evolved with the times. The in-game music is what you'd typically hear in an epic war film, including every ounce of pomp.

Worms 2 includes a robust multiplayer mode that allows two distinct ways to play against other players. While in ad-hoc mode (players within 30 feet of each other), you can host or join a game that can have up to four players. There are three different types of games available in ad-hoc mode: Deathmatch, Fort (team play) and Rope (first to reach a designated exit point). If you're hooked into a broadband Internet connection, you can log onto "Worm.Net" using infrastructure mode and host or join a game. You can also examine leaderboards and even download additional game maps, team flags and other content while connected to Worm.Net. Worms 2 also includes an option to send a limited demo of the game to a friend via the Wi-Fi ad-hoc mode.

Worms: Open Warfare 2 is a title that is easy to learn, but difficult to master. The game will provide hours of fun both in single- and multiplayer modes, and the ability to design your own levels and download new content adds an enormous amount of replay value to a game that rarely plays the same way twice. The game's pacing could be picked up a bit, but it won't keep you out of the war. I recommend seeking out the enemy worms and enjoying some small-scale portable destruction.

Score: 8.0/10

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