Reviews// Worms: Open Warfare (PSP)

Worms! Never been so much fun!

Posted 19 Apr 2006 12:20 by
What has changed in this version of the game is the ferocity and vindictiveness of the CPU-controlled worms. In a three or four-way match with one human team, the CPU teams will almost invariably target the human-controlled worms in preference to closer and easier to hit members of other CPU teams.
This can get a bit annoying, especially when one of the little blighters pulls off a perfect shot, through the scenery, using the wind, and drops a bazooka shell at the feet of one of your worms, blowing him into a mine and severely denting the overall health of your team. You instantly start plotting your revenge, and that's a good thing, its part of what drives the addictiveness of the game.

Another gripe with the CPU-controlled teams is that the worms take ages to decide what to do on the lower difficulty levels, so you spend a good portion of your time watching them make their minds up.
This not only interrupts the flow of the game, but removes you from the playing experience. This isn't an issue in all human matches, which are what you should be playing in the first place, but it can annoy you when you are practising at home or on the bus before the big match at the office ... for example.

The major and overriding problem with Worms: Open Warfare has nothing to do with the technical side of the game. No, the main problem is the lack of weapons.

Perhaps we were spoiled by the huge arsenal in Worms: The Director's Cut, but the offering in W:OW seems a little anaemic. Where are the Holy Hand grenade and the Super Sheep? A heavier, but more damaging grenade and a pilotable smart missile, these weapons from W:TDC are sorely missed here. Sure, we could consider W:OW to be stripping back the cruft and concentrating on the essentials, but the fact is that with the limited set of weapons available, you just end up throwing cluster bombs and lobbing bazooka shots until you can get close enough to drop a mine or some dynamite.
If you are lucky you will be able to fire-punch a worm off the level or into a mine or get close enough to get two perfect shots with the shotgun, but that really is about 95% of the tactics you will use. With a larger choice of weapons you would be able to build a more entertaining battle plan and not be able to predict the enemy strategy so easily.

These are minor niggles in the grand scheme of things, but they do take the edge off what should be a brilliant game. Worms' success is based on its simplicity and the essential game is still in place after all these years, there really isn't that much you can do to it apart from change the graphics, music and sound effects and add more exotic weapons.
Changing the fundamentals of the game would ruin it, the change to 3D was a daring move that didn't quite work, there are some games that just play better in 2D. Worms is one and Lemmings is another, we are lucky that both of these franchises have recently been brought to us by a development house that realises how they work and has dared to keep them simple and to the point. Another mad, retrograde, yet supremely inspired step backwards.

SPOnG Score: B

Worms: Open Warfare is Worms on your PSP with a few tweaks, and that's no bad thing at all, but the weapon selection could have been expanded and the AI could have been made more decisive. Although it's not quite perfect, Worms is one of the most addictive PSP games available... if you have a PSP, and any friends at all, you should have this game.
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