Beware the Concrete Donkey!
Seriously, that's one mean donkey. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then you've never played Worms and are missing one of the classic franchises in gaming. There are very few games that nailed nearly perfect gameplay the first time around. Tetris is an obvious one. Bomberman is one of my favorites. The good sequels to these games refine the gameplay but don't change it much. The bad sequels... well, they do bizarre things. Worms is one of those games.
[image1]Worms: Open Warfare 2 is a great title for both fans of the Worms series and newcomers to the game. For the uninitiated, Worms plays like the old game Artillery. The main gameplay is firing a projectile into the air and getting the trajectory, wind speed, and power correct to hit them square in whatever counts as a worm's face. Add to that an array of cool weapons, and you've got a deep strategy game that's easy and fun to play.
If you have played Worms before, its all still here in Worms: Open Warfare 2. The strange levels, bizarre weapons, and amusing cutscenes are just as good as ever. With a variety of modes, from single player campaigns to multiplayer games, there's a lot of content in this tiny package.
Thankfully, the game remains 2D because, like Castlevania, all 3D attempts at Worms have lost the magic of the original. Funny cartoon graphics are the only thing this series ever needs. Even in the Xbox Live Arcade version of Worms, the game looks the same as it does on the DS and PSP. The only foray into the third dimension are the cutscenes, which are, as always, fun to watch and hilarious.
[image2]The bizarre weapons are what makes the franchise what it is, and they've continued to give you some of the wildest ammunition you've ever seen. The aforementioned Concrete Donkey is one of the classics, dropping from the sky and crushing your enemies. Cluster bombs, ninja ropes, super sheep, dynamite and other classics are still in the game. Although, my new favorite weapon may have to be the Buffalo of Lies... just for the name alone.
As for the differences between the PSP and DS versions, they both have their pluses and minuses. For purists, the PSP has a much better screen to play the game on. A wider single screen is much easier than two vertical screens. In fact, on the DS it's hard to aim your shot properly on some of the maps because of the gap between the screens. The PSP also is more robust in the online play, giving you lederboards and the ability to share custom maps.
[image3]However, the DS has some neat new modes that I'd love to see expanded in the future. The “blow” mode has your worm on a parachute and when you blow into the mic, he goes up, powered by your apparent hot air. Blast mode has you use the stylus to tap and explode around an indestructible worm to move him around the level. Finally, the coolest mode, Draw, has a preset scenario where you have to draw in new barriers to affect the outcome. Though just tiny minigames, they're fun and make up for the inferior screen layout.
The sound in the game is just as great as ever. As with any worms game, the music sits comfortably in the background while the sound effects steal the show. I'm so happy to see that age and worldwide distribution hasn't removed some of the original worms sayings. It somehow wouldn't be a worms game if I didn't occasionally hear a worm mutter “Oy, Nutta!” when he dies. Also, I love the fact that when you open and close the DS, a random hello or goodbye message occurs. Though it doesn't affect gameplay, it made me smile.
Worms: Open Warfare 2 is a great version of the classic game for the handheld systems. Besides some neat online features for the PSP and interesting gameplay modes on the DS, this game doesn't really offer anything new, but that's not a bad thing. What you have here is a solid game and an excellent purchase for anyone owning a portable system.