Worms World Party was greatly acclaimed on the original gen N-Gage, but how does its next gen successor fare?
Worms is a deceptive game in many ways. When you first look at it it seems so simple and almost childish, but the more you play it the more you realise how devious and grown-up it really is. There aren't any flashy graphics trying to get your attention, it's a game based almost entirely around the gameplay, and the fact that it continues to be a big hit on phones, consoles and computers is testament to just how good that gameplay is.
For those who don't know, the basic idea of Worms is for two or more armies of worms to destroy each other using various weapons which work in very different ways. The landscape is a two dimensional scrolling destructible landscape, and the individual worms take it in turns to move and/or use a weapon. The joy of the game is in using specific weapons in useful ways, and imaginative players will often manage to make weapons do very unexpected things. Despite the silly cartoon graphics and funny voices, Worms is actually a solid turn-based strategy game which can be taken just as seriously as chess.
A team wins if all the other worms are dead, and if no team has won within a certain time limit the game goes into a "sudden death" mode where all surviving worms are reduced to one hit point and the screen is slowly enveloped by rising water. In the end, someone is bound to win, if only because they have the last worm with its head above the waterline.
The game can be played offline against computer opponents or online against human opponents through the N-Gage Arena.
To spice things up, there's the aforementioned vast selection of weapons (31 in all though some appear very rarely in the "Quick Match" mode) and also regular air drops where health packs and ammunition fall from the sky, which can sometimes turn a game around completely.
You can also choose to set up a game with dozens of different adjustable settings such as background, terrain, choice of weapons, starting health, rate of air drops etc, all of which adds a vast amount of variety to the game: even if you can beat one playing style, you can set up a new custom game that lets you take on a totally new style. There are also a number of pre-sets if you don't want to fiddle with all the individual settings yourself. These settings can also be adjusted in online multiplayer mode with human opponents, so the amount of gameplay in WWP on N-Gage is practically limitless.
Worms isn't pushing graphical boundaries technically, but the graphics are very clear, the backgrounds are nice enough, and the animations of the worms themselves and their weapons are intricate and very amusing. You won't impress your mates with the graphics in Worms, but you may well get them to laugh themselves silly as they watch you deploying an exploding sheep on your enemies.
Sound is disappointing compared to previous Worms games, for example the original gen N-Gage version of Worms World Party had many countries' accents for the Worms (including Finnish in honour of Nokia) but this next gen version of WWP just as the default squeaky Home Counties voices. The other disappointing thing about the sound is the total lack of music, there is almost none at all, and the only sounds come from the worms and their weapons.
However, the worms' voices are still very amusing and add greatly to the humour of the game, they seem to be second cousins to the various knights from Monty Python And The Holy Grail. The sound effects are also good, with proper explosions, baaing sheep and gibbering old ladies (you have to play the game to understand the context they're in!).
Online multiplayer through N-Gage Arena is where Worms World Party really enters a league of its own: this is quite simply one of the best online phone games ever released. It is really really really good fun to play WWP online, the turn-based time-limited matches suit online gameplay perfectly as they do not suffer from lag and don't go on too long, and thanks to the game's popularity on N-Gage (it's stayed at number one in the charts ever since its release) it's also pretty easy to find people online too. The reason WWP is so much fun online is because of the way human opponents use the weapons at their disposal, often in very clever or very stupid ways, and in both cases they're entertaining in a way that computer opponents can never be. People are much less predictable than computers, and playing online feels very different to playing against the computer.
Another big positive aspect of human opponents is their choice of level design, as the person starting the game can choose what the landscape is like, which weapons are available, how often air drops happen etc. One level this reviewer played contained weapons made up entirely of pneumatic drills, so you had to be very careful and clever how you attacked your enemies, and air drops became a totally game-changing event as they offered the only "proper" weapons.
The one problem on WWP's multiplayer is the awkwardness of the process by which you go online: there are so many screens to go through before you get to the actual online game, that it reduces the chances of new players successfully making it to the online games. The process for playing another game online is also too awkward, very often you have to sign out of online completely and go back in for it to let you play another game. This has to be greatly simplified if Nokia wants to encourage people to play N-Gage games online.
Worms World Party looks very good through TV Out, in fact this is probably one of the best TV Out phone games. The 2D graphics and cartoon style suit television screens very well, and the game's sound samples are fantastic through a TV set's speakers.
Worms World Party for N-Gage is an excellent title which manages to successfully be both a clever strategy game and a mainstream arcade game all in one package. People who just want a quick laugh will enjoy it, but so will more hardcore gamers who want in-depth gameplay. Worms delivers on many levels to many people, and you get out of it what you put into it. WWP also (in its own way) manages to be a satire of real life warfare, as the "victories" frequently consist of one half-dead worm surviving while everyone and everything else has been destroyed. If you enjoy strategy games but find glorification of war distasteful, Worms is the game for you.
But... WWP for next gen N-Gage is also a huge wasted opportunity. There are some things missing from this game which could have easily elevated it to must-buy killer app status, and it's a real shame that the publishers failed to take this opportunity to do a near-perfect game. Perhaps the biggest flaw is the total lack of any kind of tutorial or documentation, which means that people who have never played Worms before will have a really tough time working out what's going on, and many who play the demo may not buy the game because they don't know what they're supposed to do. There are lots and lots of weapons, options and menus in this game, and understanding their use is absolutely key to getting enjoyment from WWP, so it's a tragedy that the game fails to tell players anything. WWP is crying out for a step-by-step interactive tutorial to introduce the game's features one at a time, but there isn't anything like that. There is already a tremendous number of unofficial Worms guides on the web of course, but why force people to research a phone game if they want to just try it out?
Other problems with WWP include the lack of music, the difficult-to-read fonts on some menus, the occasional dodgy collision detection where you end up shooting yourself, the absence of alternative accents for the worms, and the awkward signing-in process for the online mode (as mentioned in the Arena section above).
However, at the end of the day this is still a tremendously addictive and deep game which you can play either for hours at a time or just five minutes here and there. Worms World Party is a fun game, it puts a smile on your face even when you're losing, and there is so much depth to the gameplay that entire books could be written about how to play Worms. Even if you master a particular kind of game, you can re-tweak the balance of weapons and other options so that the game offers a totally new challenge. On top of all that, you can play online with up to four teams at once, and playing against humans (especially multiple humans) makes Worms come alive in a way that offline games do not.
There's also a welcome amount of dark humour very much like something from Monty Python or The Goon Show, which really adds to the sheer entertainment value of playing. Hearing worms threatening each other and commenting on their own predicament is amusing, especially when something unexpected happens to them. Also, crucially, there is room for fluke victories, so even beginners have at least a small chance of winning. Worms rewards strategy like chess, but it doesn't totally exclude people just because they're inexperienced. This is a very welcoming game once you've worked out what all the weapons and controls do.
If WWP had included a built-in tutorial (and perhaps a better logging on process for online), then it would be a strong candidate for winning our ultrarare Mega Game award. But it doesn't have a tutorial, so instead it will have to settle for a substantially lower score, though it is still good enough to win our slightly more common Recommended award.
Overall, Worms World Party on N-Gage is still a really good game, and if you learn how to play it properly you will get great satisfaction from it both in offline single player and online multiplayer modes. This is the kind of game you'll probably still be playing in a year or two, and it is very difficult to play just one round of WWP as it keeps you coming back for more and more and more.
Ovi Gaming Score: 85%
It would be nice if you can do that with all the reviews.
Anyway how do you do the screen capture?