Worms World Party Hands-On Impressions

Gangs of belligerent earthworms are headed straight for your N-Gage. We intercepted them at E3 for a test-play.

Sometimes it's the intangibles that make a successful online multiplayer game. Team 17's Worms franchise has always been known for its wacky, offbeat humor and for the perverse joy it affords you as you dispatch your opponent with an exploding sheep. Piloting a platoon of war-mongering annulata somehow always manages to be greater than the sum of its parts.

Worms World Party is the N-Gage port of the last 2D worms game. Worms 3D debuted last year, amid very mixed reviews, so the franchise's mobile return to rigid frontality is, for many, a happy one.

For the uninitiated, allow me to summarize Worms' gameplay. You command a battalion of earthworms, each of which is relegated to a specific start position on a fully destructible map. The object is to command your worms to destroy your opponent's worms through a variety of creative means. You can, for example, shoot a missile into a jetty supporting an opposing worm, thereby drowning him in the briny depths. Or, you can send an exploding old lady teetering his way. Worms puts a staggering number of offbeat armaments (80!) at your disposal.

World Party for the N-Gage was developed by Paragon Five rather than by Team 17; however, it remains remarkably true to its PC and console brethren. Perhaps this is due to their similar alphanumeric names. Or maybe it's because Paragon Five understands what is key to the Worms formula: variety, cheap gags, and online multiplay.

And what multiplay! Worms World Party lets you compete over the network, via the N-Gage Arena, over Bluetooth, or by simply taking turns on a single handset. Additionally, Arena users will enjoy such perquisites as custom teams, online leaderboards, and individual worm stat-management features. What statistics govern a worm's combative performance are anyone's guess.

Worms World Party looks extremely promising at this early stage. Our prerelease coverage will continue until the game goes gold, sometime in the fourth quarter of this year.

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