IGN Review of Worms 2: Open Warfare
At the very least, the lesson to be learned with Worms: Open Warfare 2: when you've made an original Nintendo DS game that didn't come out as well as you'd hope, don't be afraid to scrap everything and start from scratch for the sequel. THQ's original Worms: Open Warfare for the Nintendo handheld may have had the key components of the classic Worms gameplay, but the shoddy programming and a weak design kicked a riotously fun classic into a mediocre status. Not so with Worms: Open Warfare 2. This sequel really shouldn't be called a sequel at all: a new development team worked on a brand new engine as well as tons of gameplay modes, and it's absolutely faithful to the source material. It's a great (and deep) version of the game, and it's a kick-ass multiplayer experience.
If you managed to get this far in life without learning about Team 17's worms, here's a little breakdown for you. Worms are, naturally, worms
but not ordinary worms. They're warcrazy worms who live, eat, and breathe the fight. It's all about being the better Worms team - missiles, grenades, shotguns, Uzis, exploding sheep
whatever it takes to blast the opposing worms off the battlefield, these guys will use it.
The concept has its roots in the classic Artillery Duel game design where players would take turns sending projectiles at each other from a fixed location on a side-scrolling map. The Worms idea takes this a hundred times further by letting players (slowly) move their guy into strategic positions, and use all sorts of weapons: Missiles and Grenades for explosive long distance shots, Guns like Shotguns and Uzis for precise blasts, punches for face-to-face attacks. There are over-the-top weapons like cluster and bombs that aren't as predictable but can dish out some seriously impressive results in the hands of a capable thrower. And then there are some weird ones like a sheep that will roam the field on its own power, which can then be detonated to score a needed hit or two.
For the sequel, THQ gave the Worms: Open Warfare project to Two Tribes, a handheld-focused development team that previously worked on the N-Gage and other mobile versions of the Worms series. This group scrapped everything done on the original and began anew, creating the sequel from scratch
and it really shows. Every complaint from the first game released on the Nintendo DS a year and a half ago has been addressed in this sequel, from the tighter programming to the slicker visuals. And the Ninja Rope works like a champ! This version of Worms: Open Warfare is so different from the original game it really should have been given a whole new subtitle just to distance itself from the first product.
Right upon boot-up the game introduces you to the world of the Worms with a handy and welcome tutorial mode - it's a little presumptuous to assume that you'd know what this game's all about, and the developers introduce the gameplay with a step-by-step, hands-on instructional mode. This can be skipped if you're already learned in the ways of the Worms, but it's nice to get a brush up too
especially if you want to know which buttons do what and how the touch screen comes into play.
The developers also waste no time showing just how much you can customize your team in this product: kick the game on for the first time and you're encouraged to name each member of your first Worms group and select the flag. Later you'll have the opportunity to add more custom teams
even use the in-game paint program to doodle up your own warflag used for your team's avatar. And if you're really ambitious you can build up your own levels and populate them with all sorts of goodies you've unlocked along the way.
The use of the Nintendo DS's touch screen has shifted drastically from the original to the sequel as well. By default both screens are used as a double-tall display, and players can tap the Select button to chop that display in half on-the-fly and use the upper-screen as a map of the battlefield. The backgrounds melt 2D and 3D elements for an impressive effect - it's pretty damn cool to see a 3D tank or ship in the distance while you're walking along the 2D foreground. The downside is that the DS screen is only so big, and you only get to see so much of the battlefield at once - it feels a little claustrophobic since you can't zoom the camera back to aim at long-distance Worms.
Worms is all about the multiplayer experience, and the Nintendo DS sequel definitely pushes this angle plenty far. If you only have one copy of the game you can send a demo version of the game to the systems connected for a random matchup with random team members. Connect to other systems with their own copies of the game and you'll be able to use your custom teams.
Biggest of all is the support for the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Jump online with the Nintendo DS and you'll have the ability to dual in random match-ups or in specific match-ups with buddies if you've already swapped Friend Codes. The online support is fantastic, and it includes online leaderboards that are constantly updated as players duke it out.
The one notable downside is that you can't take your custom teams in the worldwide fight - you have to create a whole new "online" team that has predetermined names as secondary aliases. Presumably, in Friend Code matches your buddies will see the custom names you've created, but in random matches the aliases will be shown instead. Sort of a "play it safe" so that Nintendo doesn't get complaints from parents that see that their son's playing against worms with overly crude monikers.
The one thing that worries us about multiplayer was the frequency in which the single cartridge multiplayer lost sync with the systems connected. In two out of three tries, the systems failed to stay connected but would still talk to each other, even though what was happening on each system's screen was completely different from each other. When the synchronization stays firm in single cartridge, Worms multiplayer is an absolute blast, but the possibility that the link can sever randomly made us nervous every time we played it. Our online sessions were completely tight - only the single cart multiplayer had this issue.
For those who'd rather just blast some worms by themselves, Worms: Open Warfare has a tremendous focus in single player as well. Players can jump into quick matches with computer opponents, naturally, but that's expected. What wasn't expected is how deep the Single Player Campaign mode is - it's very much like a story mode where players progress through specifically laid out situations and try to win that scenario. As players progress through this mode, they'll earn credits to unlock more levels and custom items for the multiplayer. There's also Achievements, which can be earned and viewed
On top of this, the designers clearly had a lot of fun with the game engine and produced a "laboratory" of mini-games that use the elements of the Nintendo DS. In one challenge, you'll do that familiar "blowing into the microphone" thing to float a parachuting worm to the exit. In another, you'll tap the screen to blast a worm around using the game's physics engine. And in another Kirby's Canvas Curse-inspired challenge, you have one shot to get your worm to the exit by drawing a path that'll help your worm survive explosives that drop in his way.
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