Review: Worms World Party (Playstation)

In this review, we plot our next move with the Playstation strategy game Worms World Party. We find out if this next iteration in the series stacks up.

This game was released in 2001 and would be the Playstation port of the PC game. It is also basically the sequel to what is, so far, my favorite game I’ve ever reviewed on this site, Worms:Armageddon. Believe me, when that game ended up being one of only two games that have ever scored perfectly on this site, I was really excited to play this game.

There are a number of modes in this game. What you may want to go to first is the options menu. This is where you can create your team. You have options as to what to name your team. You can then name your four worms. This, alone, was a subtle tone down of the team options found in the previous game because you can have up to 6 worms in the previous game. Still, even in the previous game, being able to play with more than four worms was an exceedingly rare thing, so I didn’t think this was too big of a deal. After you’re done naming your worms, you can set other options for your team such as what special weapon you want to use (after a few turns in deathmatch, you get one shot of this weapon, so choose wisely!). You can then select your fortress (multiplayer fort mode).

Most excitingly is the store ability where you are given a limited amount of money to buy your initial set of weapons. I thought this would feed into death match, or, at the very least, some kind of mode where you could progressively earn cash and buy more weapons of your choosing as you build up your party through progressively more difficult rounds. Imagine my disappointment when this game seemingly doesn’t seem to work that way. Instead, the initial amount of money is all you get and this store only plays into points for weapons mode in multiplayer (if there is a way to earn money in the Playstation version, I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure it out). For me, this was a massive disappointment because you could easily get the wrong impression when you encounter this menu. A major lost opportunity in my books.

When you’re done toying around with the options, your next step will be to decide whether you are playing a multiplayer mode game or a single player mode. You don’t actually need more than one human player for either of these, though it can be quite fun playing with a buddy or three.

Multiplayer mode allows you to pick and choose what players (human or computer) are playing. You can then select which mode from a particularly large list of modes (schemes, as they are referred to in game). You can then select general rules along the bottom (retreat time, worm select, etc.). You can then select the final three set of rules via the slot machines. This can affect damage and various drops that happen (or not!) throughout the game. Really, the possibilities are practically endless here. While you can unlock options here via single player mode, they are only new schemes that slightly modify the rules of play. Nothing too exciting that I could see (these new schemes are labelled “bonus #” schemes at the end of the list).

The single player game is where a large part of the guts of this game is. The most simple mode is probably Quick game. In this mode, you get a set of weapons, four worms (creatively named Worm 1, Worm 2, Worm 3, and Worm 4), and you are pitted against a four worm computer team. You don’t get anything out of this, but you get to test your abilities in this straight forward battle.

The second mode is Training. This mode is carried over from the previous game. It essentially is supposed to teach you the basics and some advanced techniques that can help you survive. While there is a bit of a learning curve to these missions, they will help hone your skills before you launch into any other modes where winning counts for something. Thankfully, completion isn’t required, so if you get frustrated with one mission, you can always skip the mission, or even skip this mode entirely. Note that there are subtle differences between this and the PC version. A very big difference is that one of the jumps in the final training mission is greatly extended. While frustratingly harder, all of the missions are, in fact, possible to complete.

The third mode is Missions. This is where the main storyline of this game takes place. You basically take on a series of missions (which I think is somewhere between 40 and 45 missions, actually). You are tasked with fighting a nebulous “enemy” in a long series of missions. You’ll encounter a large variety of missions throughout that requires different skillsets from you. Some are as simple as guess and hope for the best, while others can be real brain teasers. One new element in this is the fact that most missions allow you to die. As long as you complete the objective, you can allow all of your worms to perish in most missions and it will still count as a victory (there are exceptions. Most of them are explicitly stated in the briefing, but other exceptions include the ones where you protect certain NPCs or if you have a two worm team where you can choose between them. If one dies in the two worm team missions, then the other strangely surrenders, forcing you to fail the mission). In fact, in some of these missions, it’s seemingly impossible to complete the mission without allowing your worm to die.

For me, some of the missions is where this game does fall apart a bit. A number of these missions basically remove the turn-based elements and require you to complete in a single turn. Other missions allow you to fire as many shots as you like until the timer runs out. Let’s face it, this is supposed to be a turn-based strategy game at its core. If the game simply revolved around this concept from beginning to end, I would be happy. Instead, some of these missions basically makes this game little more than what some people call a platforming game. While many of these missions do cluster somewhere in the middle, a lot of these are still the happy turn-based strategy game I’ve come to enjoy. Still, I thought this new concept of single turn matches and weapon fire not ending your turn was taken a bit too far in this mode. Sadly, it is what holds this game back a lot. on the upside, there are a few missions that pay homage to the previous game which I thought was a nice touch.

If you win in a mission, you can get a medal. There is a gold, silver and bronze medal that you can earn. Near as I can tell, the medal you get is based on the number of attempts you take at a mission. If you complete the mission in one attempt, you win a gold medal. If you fail a mission, replay it and win, you’ll be awarded the silver medal. This is unlike the previous game where the medal you win is based on in-mission performance.

Time Attack is the fourth mode and is where I wished all the single turn missions were confined to. You basically get a limited amount of time to complete a certain task (can be shooting targets, defeating enemies, etc.) While an interesting concept, it’s not something I bothered getting very far in.

Deathmatch is probably the mode to play this game, though. While the options are more limited than in the previous game, it was still a blast (no pun intended) to play. You start off with four worms and you fight against up to three teams of computer players. Each of these computer player teams (maximum 3) can have anywhere between 0 and four worms of any combination. The computer teams are work independently, but they are all on the same side. So, you get every other turn to work with during play. They can also have a range of difficulties. This is indicated by the number on the computer screen in the menu prior to play. A “1” is the easiest difficulty. The higher the number, the more skilled that team is. The hardest computer player team is a “5”. The first match pits you against just 3 enemy worms – all of which on different teams. These worms are set to the easiest setting. It also marks one of the few matches in this mode where you get more worms than the computer player. In the previous game, worm select was always on, so you had that added advantage in the beginning. That was taken out in this game, so technically, this version is harder. If the above description is a tad confusing, don’t worry, it’s a lot less complicated in-game. What is important to know is that if you win a match, then you progress in rank. The missions after each victory get progressively harder as you win each match. The highest ranking you can attain is Elite.

In the game itself, you can have a brief 5 second timer. This allows you to get your bearings on worm placement and a quick study of the landscape (are you in a cave or in an open air environment?). After that, the timer will begin to count down, affording you only a limited amount of time to complete your turn. You can scroll around the screen holding down the assigned scroll button and using your movement buttons. You can access your weapons menu to see and select which weapon you wish to use.

Like Worms:Armageddon, this game features a massive variety of weapons. The basic weapons include a bazooka (a single bullet that you fire in the air. It’ll detonate on impact and is affected by wind). Another basic weapon is the grenade. You can set the fuse time (anywhere between 1 and 5 seconds) and lob the grenade into the air. It’ll bound around and gradually settle down, but unless it ends up in the drink, it’ll go off whenever the timer reaches 0.

Other basic weapons include a pistol (fires a small set of bullets at the enemy), a shotgun (allows you to blast two holes in two separate shots), and an uzi (fires many bullets quickly and can move worms around pretty good).

You also have a set of hand-to-hand weapons. This includes the fire punch (pushes your worm up in a jumping motion, hitting other worms in the process or collecting crates), dragonball (fires a limited range shot that pushes a worm in a certain direction), and probably the most deadly finishing weapons of all, the prod (nudges an enemy a short distance. Great for pushing the last enemy into the drink).

Along with these weapons are utilities. This can aid your worms in movement. The most useful is probably the ninja rope. Fire it at any solid object and you can swing around and land safely after great distances (for added WTF effect, you can lower yourself upwards while swinging almost 180 degrees). Another particularly useful utility is the jetpack. While limited fuel, you can fly around and land wherever you want. The third most useful movement utility is the warp. While using it will end your turn without firing a shot, you can warp pretty much anywhere you like on the map. Other movement utilities include the bungee cord and parachute.

Other utilities allow you to dig. This includes the blowtorch (while limited in direction, you can dig a straight line for a limited period of time). Another digging item is the pneumatic drill which allows you to dig straight down. Don’t forget to switch it off before you go too far down!

One final movement utility of note is the girder. This most commonly comes as a single girder, but you can get your hands on a girder starter pack which allows you to use a bunch all over the screen. Some levels limit you on where you can place these. They basically have to be close to where your worm is before they can be used, but not all levels are like that to my knowledge.

Added in the mix are super weapons. Some of these weapons you can choose as your special weapon (such as my personal favorite, the Holy Hand Grenade), while others are rather hard to obtain under most conditions (i.e. sheep strike, concrete donkey, super sheep, old lady, Patsy’s Magic Bullet, etc.).

There are two other items you always have. The first item is the “skip go” item which allows you to forfeit your turn. While seemingly useless at first, this can be extremely useful when sudden death is triggered. Just pick a spot high up and allow the drink to gradually swallow up your enemies in a cheap form of victory. The final option is surrender which allows you to just throw a match.

Generally speaking, this game does carry over a number of features that really made the previous game shine for me. Unfortunately, since it’s the Playstation and not the N64, there are load times between each mission (sometimes even within the menu systems themselves). A bit of a technical drawback with this game. It was still a shame that the shop wasn’t adequately explored because if it operated like I initially thought it would, I probably would have labelled this as a fantastic innovation within the game franchise. Instead, it just languished somewhere deep within the multiplayer options, never to really see the light of day in the grand scheme of things. There are some tweaks compared to the previous game, but this brought on more negative elements than positive ones. In some of the missions, the turn-based elements that made the previous game stand out were bizarrely taken away. I’m assuming that this was to spice up the action in some new way, but it ended up robbing the game of some of its shine. Anywhere where the turn-based system was basically taken away, this game was rather weak (including the time attack mode). Wherever this game was actually turn-based, that was largely where this game was strong. Ultimately, things were getting fixed when they weren’t broken in the first place. Another thing I noticed was that the weapons inventory was much more limited than the previous game. Unless I missed a multiplayer mode, a lot of the more interesting weapons were basically taken away (didn’t see any mail strikes, mine strikes, priceless ming vases, etc. in the game). So, that was actually a bit of a letdown.

Graphically, this game was actually lower quality than the N64 predecessor. If you look at the gravestones, you’ll notice that they are more badly pixelated and scaled down. Not something I like seeing in a sequel (This is almost Might and Magic VII all over again, really). While there was a lot of intriguing art, it’s still lower quality.

The audio was where this game shined the most overall. When I heard the intro music, I don’t recall getting so excited to play a game since Elder Scrolls III – Morrowind, Goldeneye 007, or even Skate or Die 2. The intro music was way up there with some of the most memorable themes I’ve ever heard. The other music was definitely a change from the previous game I played, but it worked in its own right. One thing I was glad to hear was that a lot of the cartoon sounds were retained in this game. I was disappointed that some of the speech banks were seemingly missing and the Battle Axe sound effect was stripped out, but the remaining sounds still worked quite well.

Overall, some people say this franchise peaked at Worms:Armageddon. After playing this game, this sequel certainly plays into that. Still, there is plenty of enjoyment to be had in this game (Deathmatch! Woohoo!), so I would still say this is worthy of a play. There are a number of negatives that make it fall short of the previous game (including missions that took away the turn-based elements, loading screens, downgraded graphics, and a few other nitpicks). So, if you play this game having played the previous N64 port, it’s still a great play, just don’t expect it to be as amazing as its predecessor.

Overall
Furthest point in game: Completed all training missions, game missions, and earned the Elite ranking in deathmatch. Played a few time attack games, but got bored of them early. Played a couple multiplayer games as well.

General gameplay: 19/25
Replay value: 8/10
Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 5/5

Overall rating: 80%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.



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