Worms: Open Warfare DS Review

Worms has been a mainstay for strategists for some time, and no wonder. It takes the trajectory skills of the old Apple II game Artillery Duel, mixes in strategic movement ala Combat, and then throws an incredible sense of humor into the mix to put it all together. The results have been a series of games that have stood out on their own, although some, like the earlier 2-D games for PlayStation, have been better than others (Worms 4: Mayhem and Worms: Forts Under Seige come to mind).

Now we at last get a jolt for the handheld generation, as Worms: Open Warfare has arrived for the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS. This week we're taking a look at the DS version, while the PSP one will get some love from us next week after we've had some time to invest further into its multiplayer. For now, we'll have to see how the game fared on Nintendo's handheld.

Well, it's alright, actually. The gameplay itself has managed to survive the translation, and it does offer a captivating multiplayer feature that thankfully doesn't require four copies of the game. And yet, you're playing it for hours on end and still wonder if maybe a little touching-up would've been for the greater good.

The presentation itself really seems to be by the basics. The level design is good, to be sure, but the animation and processing of weapons seems to be a bit slow. There's also something to be said about movement being a bit sluggish, even for the likes of worms. Also, sound samples are somewhat limited, with only a few random quotes spoken in high-pitched wormspeak. You can still tweak these pretty nicely, but I still wanted to see more customization.

The game's lack of a cartoonish introduction or training missions hurt. You just jump right in and get on with the action, without really being able to tweak your worms that much. You can set up strategic positions and weapons, which is nice, but it would've been great if the development team allowed us to sink our teeth just a little deeper. This also hurts the multiplayer component of the game, as you can't enter into a tournament with a pre-loaded custom team like you could with previous editions.

That's not to say the game's bad, however. The general gameplay still remains very responsive and accurate, with a number of outstanding weapons in your arsenal and the ability to blow away enemy worms completely intact. The AI could've been a little better at times, but that's made up for with the single-cart multiplayer, where four players can simply jump in for the fun of worm-blasting armageddon. These matches are what make the game completely worthwhile, and have great response times to make you feel like you're actually dealing in a battle instead of watching it from the sidelines.

Yet, you can still see where the game came up short. It's pretty damn easy to see right from the start. Worms: Open Warfare is a good but still flawed affair in which you find yourself rooting on your tactics but wish you could do more with them, and in a smoother presentation. Perhaps the PSP version has the answer we're looking for, but DS owners won't be completely left out in the cold. Just be prepared for a less-than-perfect fight on the battlefield.

What's Hot: Single-cart multiplayer rocks; great gameplay

What's Not: Presentation is too average; needed more customization