STAFF REVIEW of Tetris Worlds: Online Edition (Xbox)

Thursday, July 3, 2003.
by maneatingcow

Tetris Worlds: Online Edition Box art With over 42 different versions released over it?s life span, its hard to find any gamer that has not at least HEARD of Tetris. With the release of XBL, it was inevitable that some puzzle games would soon make their way to the amazing service. The first to arrive is Tetris Worlds Online, a re-vamp of the Tetris title that arrived on XBox June 2002. With the core of the title staying the same, and the only true addition being Live play, it is enough to make this budget ($20) title worth owning, and makes the perfect title to include free in the latest XBox Live kits.

The gameplay of TWO is quite simple. Drop the blocks into their proper place by rotating them with the X or Y buttons, the Y or UP on the directional pad will hard-drop the block, and hitting L or R will ?Hold? your current block. The story mode within TWO is not really worth mentioning. While the guise of a story mode exists in the game, it is merely a challenge mode, and is not really all that challenging at all. The only real reason I?d recommend to play it is to get a feel of the new game modes included. The new game modes are very diverse, and are a blast to play in multiplayer or on Live.

The major problem in the game is fitting a game to your specific tastes. TWO does not offer full customizability in its Live play. You can choose Game Mode and Game Type, but you are limited to those only two. The game limits your game level to 15. Some newer gamers find that fast, but cranking the level to 20 or 25 would help to increase the challenge when two veteran players are competing. There are even more options that the game gives you no control over, including Ghost Pieces, Infinite Spin, and the ability to Hold your blocks. Some believe these are ?Cheating? and go against the standard ways of Tetris. These options would have taken some extra time, but would have made a much more appealing game in the end.

Even further into the Live mode, we find the worst thing possible: Bugs. TWO is not without it?s share of bugs, but unlike some other minor ones that appeared in other games, these are a bit major. Communicator cutouts happen often on Live, leaving one person out of the conversation as they can?t hear one particular person. The only remedy for this is to exit out of the current game and re-enter, which can be a major hassle if this happens to the host. Strange errors occur where one player will continue playing after the match is over, and if they complete the goal of the match, they will win, even if they are already defeated. Other users may experience the mythical ?Ryan? error in which your game will lock up and a screen will tell you to ?Go Tell Ryan.? Ryan must have missed that memo.

The graphics, on the other hand, are quite nice for a puzzle title. Plenty of detail was put into the backdrops for each world. Not exactly Splinter-Cell quality, but decent for game in which you will have little time to look at the backdrops. The menu system is also decent, and carries through to the Live interface. You are able to access all of your personal user menus through the main menu as well as the Game Lobby. The only major gripes in the Live interface are the poor look of the ?Who?s Talking? icon, as well as the display of the Gamer Tags. The ?Who?s Talking? icons are very small, and very poorly colored when lit. It took another gamer to make me notice it was even there. The Gamer Tags are displayed below your respective Tetris ?Matrix,? yet longer names are trimmed, even though there is plenty of room for the full names. These slight annoyances could have been easily remedied yet they were ignored.

The sound effects in the game are decent, but similar to the graphics, are nothing spectacular. The music in the game is a decent blend of Techno music. Sadly, none of the old-school Tetris music is present. Not even the familiar Russian folk song ?Korobeiniki? makes an appearance in the game (Most will remember this song as the theme from the original game). The saving grace of Tetris World?s sound is that they allow the use of the XBox?s custom soundtrack feature. This feature is very nice, especially if you can get your hands on some classic Tetris music on CD, to bring back those nostalgic feelings. If you don?t, the repetitive Techno of the default soundtrack will soon drive you nuts on Live.

Please patch this game. It?s being shipped with every current Live kit, and these errors can really set a bad example of what the Live service is like. This title is already very popular on Live, but the patch would make it 10x more enjoyable.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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