Does anyone here remember the Commodore Amiga? If not then you’re obviously not as old as I feel. The Amiga was a relatively low cost home computer which was quite successful during the early 1990’s; it was on this very beige box of tricks that the very first Worms game came out.
Skip forward 14 years and 13 other Worms franchise games and we get to Worms Open Warfare 2 for the DS (and PSP).
There have been a couple of outings recently where for some reason the developers switched the classic 2D arcade style game play for a totally unnecessary 3D refit; let it be known that this title is back in glorious 2D and is all the better for it.
Worms is a turn based strategy game in which cartoon invertebrates are pitched in battle against each other. You start by creating a team of badass Worms with the sole intention of blowing up other badass worms owned by those of your opponents. You can do this in a number of fiendish ways and with a whole host of weapons, everything from a giant Concrete Donkey to a Holy Hand Grenade. I mustn’t forget to mention that you’re perched upon a small, destructible piece of land with threats of its own: landmines, fuel canisters and the sea (Worms can’t swim).
First you individualize your team by naming it. Then further by giving each of the 4 Worms in your squad their own name too. If you’re really into customization you can even change your Worms’ victory dance, hat, vocal accent and gravestone.
Next it’s time to take your Worms into combat against up to three other teams; these can be either CPU controlled, or with Friends (via the DS wireless connection or by taking it in turns pass the parcel style with a single DS).
Now it’s time for the Total Wormage to begin! Move your Worm around the landscape and look for the best opportunity to give one (or more if you’re lucky) of the opponents Worms some serious damage (watching out for landmines as you go). Maybe you need to jump down to that ledge, carefully aim a bazooka (taking account of the wind strength and direction), and finally, charge up your weapon and let him have it.
Great, you’ve done some mega damage, but whoops, you didn’t notice that you have now left your Worm exposed to an enemy Worm that promptly drops a piece of dynamite on his head – all you can do now is watch as your Worm get blown to smithereens. Perhaps you should have tunnelled yourself into the landscape with a blowtorch for protection instead? But it’s too late for could’ve-beens now, you’re one Worm down; you’ll need to think carefully what you do next if you want your Worms to win this battle!
There are 6 war scenarios (WW1, WW2, Pirates, Cold War, Gulf War and Futuristic War) to play through. To be honest though, the main difference between them is the graphical variation of landscape to play on, and not as you might expect, weapons suited to that period in history (missed opportunity?).
As well as the single player normal campaign, there are many other modes to play through as well:
‘Puzzle’ uses your skill at Worms to put you in a situation where you must complete a set challenge to progress. This could be killing all other Worms in the area, collecting all the power ups, or just reaching the finishing point. A nice distraction from the main game this one!
‘Laboratory’ is a set of three exclusive modes for the DS version of the game which use the stylus and microphone to get your worm to his goal. Sadly I didn’t think these games were much fun and found that they quickly got boring.
However the greatest mode of WOW2 has to be that you can play this game online via the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection (boy I wish I could have done that back in 1994 on my Amiga). Here you can challenge up to three people; these may be other WOW2 owning friends, or a random match with other peeps from around the globe. I found the service quite stable and lag free, which is always a bonus.
Whilst I mention lag I should tell you that I did encounter some very weird and big lag during one match on the Single Card download (demo) mode.
With so much more to say but so little room to write, I should sum up. This is probably the best version of Worms in over a decade. The proper inclusion of a full online multiplayer mode is terrific and the neat ability to draw your own landscapes with the stylus really makes this fun. Graphically this title may not push the DS to breaking point, but it’s colourful, smooth and well animated. The sound is a bit quiet unless you’re wearing earphones, but the music, effects and many voice samples are spot on.
If I have to find a snag (which I do) I can’t help but feel that this game would have worked better if the DS was held vertically (Brain Training style) rather than horizontally so that the DS screens were placed left and right rather than up and down. I hardly ever look at the top screen as most of the action fits on the bottom. It would’ve been a much better idea to emulate the PSP and go for a widescreen effect instead of what we have here, a ‘heightscreen’ effect. I give this a rather Wormalicious 9 out of 10.