Unless you’re literally a worm, you’ll know what this game’s all about. It’s the classic Team 17 turn-based artillery game featuring the comic antics of heavily armoured invertebrates, and we’re delighted to see the latest N-Gage reboot of the franchise doesn’t interfere with the gameplay we’ve come to know and love.
And that’s really the crux of a new addition to a beloved franchise, isn’t it? The developers have a mighty task assigned to them in a game like Worms World Party. They’ve got to repackage and deliver the game we know and love, while at the same time providing us with a new reason to buy it again.
Those two factors are almost too contradictory to co-exist, but the N-Gage’s most anticipated third party title of... well, ever, makes as sincere an effort to achieve this monumental task as we’ve seen.
You’re placed in control of eight warfaring worms, who take it in turns to wipe out the enemy using a host of wonderfully imaginative weapons and tools. You can throw grenades, launch bazookas, use ninja ropes to achieve a better vantage point, build fortifications and put a host of other close combat techniques to use in ensuring you’re the last Worm standing. Or crawling.
The environments play a significant role in Worms’s appeal. The terrains - which include deserts, snow planes, islands, volcanoes, mountains and outer space - are randomly generated, which adds a massive amount of replayability to the game.
But other environmental factors impinge, such as the effect of throwing a grenade in strong wind, and whether the terrain will cause an explosion that takes out some of your own infantry.
Despite its superbly comic lilt, Worms World Party is perhaps the finest example of 2D turn-based, strategic artillery warfare ever created, and the latest N-Gage version performs on a par with any previous iteration of this long lived franchise.
Previously the system A.I. was pretty ruthless, or, more to the point, it wasn’t actually all that intelligent at all. The enemy’s grenades landed with pinpoint accuracy, and played very much by the numbers. It seems this new N-Gage version has a much refined artificial intelligence installed.
It’s not super-intelligent, but that’s the whole point - playing against a system that behaves much like a human opponent (making occasional gaffs and exhibiting just the right amount of irrationality) makes the single player game very accessible and rarely frustrating.
Worms World Party has seen some graphical tweaks to ensure the game survives the transition to the small screen, and while some of the fonts could be a bit bigger, the level of detail and overall clarity is spot on - providing both the comic quirks and the easy access to gameplay that Worms demands. If your handset allows it, get this on the TV and you’re onto a winning formula.
The benefit Worms World Party has over most other current strains of the Worms franchise is multiplayer. Thanks to the N-Gage arena, you can choose between freestyle or ranked game modes, then either establish your own game or join someone else’s.
There's a small amount of lag, though to be quite fair it’s difficult to tell what’s lag and what’s thinking time, and considering the turn-based nature of play, a bit of lag isn’t even remotely intrusive.
Pass-to-play still works as well as ever, with four teams of three worms each battling it out as you hand the phone around the table. An excellent way for nerds and students to the pass time in the pub.
If we must find a complaint (and we must), it’d probably be in the sound, or lack thereof. It’s here where we began to suspect a bit of lag in the multiplayer, and with an absence of background music, Worms World Party is a decidedly muted affair.
But that shouldn't stop you from picking the game up. Yes, this is very much back to basics Worms, but that’s really no bad thing. We’ve seen attempts to re-jig the game’s classic formula before, and they invariably suffer for it.
If you’re absolutely sick of playing the original Worms games, perhaps this one isn’t for you. If you’re a fan, you’ll once again find yourself dangling from a Worms baited hook.