Oh, cool! Tetris! Yeah, I'll do that. Shit, getting paid to play Tetris...
[Ten minutes later.]
Wicked! It's Tetris (make lines out of falling blocks), but with silly backgrounds and weather effects going on behind the game "matrix"! There's some sort of timer, but it's all very much the same. You rotate the blocks with A (clockwise) or B/X (anticlockwise), and you can make them slam down in an instant by pressing Y. There's also a translucent indicator to show you where the blocks are heading! Otherwise you're just makin' lines. And that's what I'm doing. This is fun!
[Another ten minutes pass.]
Hrm. Remember how you could rotate blocks and sort of shift them a space to the left or right before they locked to the ground and stuck there? In Tetris Worlds, you can rotate them pretty much indefinitely and slide them all over the place. Coupling left/right movement with constant rotation on an L-shaped block, for example, actually lets you walk over obstacles, too. That, er, makes it a bit easy.
[About half an hour has now elapsed.]
I'm getting slightly worried by the weird little square block sitting next to the Tetris "matrix". He's spinning around and dancing. And he keeps looking at me. It looks like I can change his colour and eyes though, and give him a baseball hat. Aw. Getting a bit bored of vanilla Tetris now. Well, not "bored" obviously, but I'm keen to see about this newfangled "online" business. That said, the changes they've made just make it way too easy - I had blocks up to the very last few squares just now and there was just no pressure at all. I just sat rotating the same block for ages trying to work out where to put the next few, which are shown in the top right. Oh and by holding a trigger button I can put a block into reserve, so I've just got a "long one" waiting to slot in and give me four complete lines...
Ah, it's possible to turn all this hijinx off apparently. That's a relief. Er, except I'm now playing it on Xbox Live and nobody seems to have done so. Oh well, I'm sitting here now thumbing buttons and listening to some demented redneck woman blathering on at her boyfriend on my headset. She probably doesn't realise that I can hear her. Oh well, I'll concentrate on my side of the screen.
Gads! Zoiks! She just shoved a load of grey blocks under mine! It looks like it's all over for me. Bitch! (Oh, she can hear me.) In my haste to try and take her out with a big score, I've allowed my precise concoction (minus one block-wide slot on the far left) to get too close to the top. Surely I'm done for now.
Hang on, what happened there? Where did all my blocks go? It looks like after a certain number of blocks, I "level up" and the game clears my side of the screen. It even got rid of all the junk that Sharleen or whatever her name is dumped on me.
[Fifteen minutes later. The same match-up continues on-screen.]
This is getting very boring. Every time one of us looks like winning, we hit a milestone and a whole screen of blocks disappears. It's going to come down to which one of us screws up the quickest when blocks start tumbling at 100 miles an hour...
Right, well, that was crap. That was "knock out" apparently. I've also had a go on "race" and "lounge". Lounge doesn't upload stats, but otherwise it's pretty vanilla. Race is the first to get to a certain number of lines. There's still little to no real pressure. I just spent the best part of half an hour discussing Michael Owen's ankle injury with a chap from Manchester. He reckons he'll be fit for the Turkey game. I don't. That's about as heated as it got.
Perhaps I should have a look at some of these variations on Tetris? Apparently normal Tetris isn't good enough, so they've built in some new derivatives. Let's have a look.
[An hour of investigation tumbles past.]
It took me a while to 'get' Square Tetris, but now I see, I'm supposed to make 4x4 squares out of the same colour blocks. Well that's nice, but what's the benefit? A higher score? Cascade Tetris is just Tetris with a dash of gravity to drag falling blocks into gaps, Sticky Tetris makes blocks of the same colour stick together (which is maddening). Hot-Line Tetris is a bit more challenging, with "hot lines" at various heights - the idea being to clear lines on these hot lines. Fusion Tetris is also alright - with "Atom" and "Fusion" blocks that need to be connected and can't be cleared by regular line-building.
On the whole though, this is just pointless. Tetris had the right mix - a basic game with a sort of challenge mode that took lots of persistence and quick reflexes to overcome. You could bake potatoes in less time than it takes for a game of Tetris Worlds to hot up - even on Xbox Live with four players.
What's more, there simply aren't enough people playing, you can't join a game after it's started, and with games taking ages to finish you can be sat waiting for hours before you find any games to join.
As for the story mode... It seems that the mechanical species of Minos are being forced to evacuate Hadar 4 in search of a new home world, and that to do this they have to open the Tetrion gateways that link distant stars. Cue rubbish cut-scenes, and an opportunity to play each style of Tetris to level 15 and unlock all the gateways. Great.
Little more than an online update of a pretty dire Tetris update, Worlds simply isn't worth your cash, even if it's only 15 or 20 quid down the high street. Dig out your old Game Boy, or just find some web-based alternative, because Tetris is a brilliant puzzle game. Revel in its purity. Just don't waste your time here.