When we heard Worms was heading to an online-enabled handheld, naturally our first thought was, "Oh cool, you'll be able to play people on the Wi-Fi network." But for whatever reason, the turn-based, surreal invertebrate war is limited to your portable's wireless range.
Online omission aside, Worms: Open Warfare is the same game you've been playing for years. Up to four people pick their mouthy, racial-stereotyped army of worms and start lobbing grenades, tossing dynamite or upper-cutting enemies off the dreamlike, 2D battle maps. Projectile weapons, like bazookas and homing missiles, are affected by the ever-changing winds and randomly-generated terrain. It's all about eyeballing the situation and using the most appropriate weapon, with just the right amount of "oomph" behind the shot to make it strike true.
And with friends, this is video game heroin. So few games make you laugh at your own mistakes or want to bust the system because the daring, Tarzan-esque attack you just attempted blew up in your face. But playing the schizo computer is, as you can imagine, not something you'll want to spend a lot of time on. One second you can almost sense its geometry-calculating mind sizing up the perfect attack, which it flawlessly executes. Then it sends another worm right into a glowing red landmine. Screw that.
If you can't find buds to play with, you're stuck fighting the stupid-genius computer in a series of increasingly difficult challenges. Other than altering the number of worms and their hit points, however, there's no "challenge" that changes. Just more of the same. Why not throw in a few specific goals, like beat them using just the exploding bananas?
In a bizarre twist, the PSP version makes it a little tough to play against human opponents. There's no game sharing option, so you've got to get two, three or four copies of Open Warfare for wireless multiplayer action. You can opt to play with just one PSP, passing it around after each turn, but that seems like a waste of expensive hardware. The lack of true online play really is baffling and only hurts the game's longevity.
While the lack of game sharing hurts, at least the software itself runs clean. Compared to the jittery Nintendo DS version, this one clips along nicely, with expectedly superior graphics and slightly better sound quality. All trivial things, sure, but if you're dying to take Worms on the road, pack the PSP game and leave the other guys to swim in the dirt.