Worms World Party Hands-On

Worms now comes to you and the world on the Dreamcast, featuring online multiplayer support, the classic Worms gameplay, and a slew of different modes.

Worms World Party promises to bring your favorite militant invertebrates to the Dreamcast in full online multiplayer fashion. Titus' latest incarnation of the beloved Worms series offers several different modes, including scenarios, mission mode, deathmatch mode, training, and quick start games. Fans of competitive Worms action will be pleased with both the head-to-head and online possibilities included. The scenarios are creatively thought out, and fans of PlayStation and PC Worms games will be pleased to know that the missions are original, bringing you new challenges that the countless Worms veterans have yet to face.

The game makes good use of the Dreamcast controller, providing quick access to jump commands, your weapon menu, and full-screen camera movement, as well as accurate aiming of your weapons. If the somewhat fickle jump buttons are tweaked in the final version, then the control might even be considered flawless.

The graphics are clean and colorful, though not quite as impressive as those of the PC versions. The weapons and attacks are animated pleasantly. Your worm dons a headband to pull off Street Fighter-esque moves, for example. Explosions are brief and well done, if a bit unpredictable at times. Knowing the radius of most weapons' effect and anticipating your position upon impact is key to your success. You'll find a lot of variety in the amount of armament your worms can deploy, ranging from the staple shotgun and bazooka to the more off-the-hook "holy hand grenade" and "kamikaze" attacks. Those familiar with the series will put the ninja rope and teleportation to masterful use, and careening your worms off walls to get in position for a well-placed cluster bomb is quite gratifying. The tricky wind element is in place, adding much appreciated depth to the combat. The ability to generate an infinite number of maps, redecorate them with the background of your choice, and throw in bridges and objects to your taste makes it feasible to play a new game every time.

Online multiplayer fans will feel right at home in the channel and lobby format, and taking advantage of a forum for challenging newbies to battle should prove fun. With a limitless number of opponents, the playability of Worms World Party might be greater than that of any of its previous incarnations. Thankfully, since a timer is used to separate opposing rounds, server lag should not be an issue.

At this current stage of development, the computer AI is a bit weak, often delaying for almost an entire minute just to fire off an ill-placed shot in what seems to be a random direction. At other times, it seems all too accurate with long-range mortar shots, which might leave you feeling feel cheated. While the multiplayer elements are the main draw, a strong single-player package would make this title much better.

The music is standard Worms fare - classical symphonies, rousing enough to excite, but not distracting enough to get in the way of the action. The yelps of opposing worm targets as they are blown apart and the delightful taunts of your annelid soldiers are well done. The sound of a worm squeaking slowly along is cute enough to make you forget it sounds suspiciously like an eraser across a blackboard. Most impressive of all, you can tailor your worms' responses and taunt patterns in the speech bank. "Angry Scots," "Double oh Seven," "Tykes," and "Stooges" - all speech patterns which you can select from - promise to entertain. Humor is definitely not lacking here, and the jibes that pop up after successful kills or defeats are appropriate and riddled with puns.

A great time can be had hatching master plans and doling out punishment in this sinfully addictive strategy title. Dreamcast owners should definitely look into this upon release.

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