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Worms W.M.D. Review

7.5

Team 17 are back with (what else?) yet another Worms game. The formula for these games hasn’t changed substantially since the release of the original Worms back in 1995, and the series stays true to form in its latest release. A couple of minor tweaks to the game-play and a graphical update help to keep things fresh, but ultimately this is more of the same artillery action you’ve come to expect. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing will depend on your perspective.

As in most Worms games, you’ll command a small team of worms on a fully destructible 2D battlefield. The objective is usually to destroy the opposing team in it’s entirety, though a few missions give you other tasks, such as killing a specific enemy or reaching a supply crate. Competitors take turns moving one member of their team and attacking with a variety of weapons. While the turn based structure gives the impression of a strategy game, the real key to success in Worms lies in learning how to effectively aim its many, many weapons. Each weapon has different characteristics, and successful attacks require an appreciation of wind and the terrain, as well as a the ability to judge how much force to put into the shot,  so mastering the game can take some time. Worms veterans should be able to jump right into the action, but for newer players a lengthy tutorial is available which introduces most of the basic weapons.

This should all be highly familiar to anyone who’s ever played a Worms game before, but there are a handful of new ideas on display. The first and most significant of these are the vehicles and mounted guns found in many levels. Worms of either team can take advantage of the powerful weapons and enhanced defenses offered by these additions, though their actual effectiveness varies. The mounted guns, which include machine guns, mortars, and sniper rifles, can do heavy damage in the right situation, but their immobility and restricted firing angles frequently make it difficult to use them effectively. On the vehicle side, the tanks explosive shells and ability to fire multiple times are ideal for chewing through scenery, but the inability to regulate the force of its shots is a problem when trying to aim at smaller targets, such as worms. The mech is undoubtedly the most useful vehicle, offering a powerful close range attack and jet boosters to assist in jumping, while the helicopter is so awkward and difficult to aim with that it’s as dangerous to the user as to the enemy. All in all, vehicles are an interesting idea marred by somewhat questionable implementation. They don’t really impact the gamer a huge amount one way or another, but they add a little extra destruction to the word of Worms, which is always a plus.

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The other major addition is a new crafting system: by collecting supply crates scattered around the map, or by dismantling the weapons in their inventory, players will acquire ingredients with which to build extra weapons and equipment. In addition to the game’s regular arsenal, crafting allows the player to produce a variety of powered up versions of weapons with new properties. Instead of building a bazooka, for example, players can spend a few extra resources to build the Bazooka Pie, which sets an area on fire after exploding. Other options include sticky grenades, anti-vehicle mines, and poison TNT. By adding a greater element of choice to your weapon selection, the crafting system had the potential to be a major game changer, but most missions offer very few crafting resources, and the most powerful weapons are extremely costly, so it’s usually more of a curiosity than anything else. That said, the ability to craft extra jetpacks is a welcome addition in a series that often makes navigation much more difficult than it needs to be, and the rare occasions when you can build yourself  a powered up laser satellite or an Angry Concrete Donkey are extremely satisfying.

Team 17 giveth, and Team 17 can taketh away. As well as adding some new innovations, Worms WMD has removed a few ideas from previous games. The class system seen in Worms: Revolution is nowhere to be found, so all worms are identical apart from minor cosmetic differences. Dynamic water physics have also been done away with. Presumably, these changes were intended to simplify the game and make it feel more like older Worms titles such as Worms: Armageddon, but removing innovations from a series that has so few to start with seems a questionable choice.

One thing that hasn’t been removed is the franchises famously zany selection of weapons. While much of your work will be done with basic mainstays like the bazooka or the shotgun, enterprising players can find or build an array of more deadly tools. Exploding sheep, Banana Bombs, and the infamous Holy Hand Grenade, as well as a host of other old and new weapons, are all available for use. A few of these feel gimmicky or awkward (the sheep on a rope is particularly hard to utilize effectively), but most are a (literal) blast to use, and provide plenty of variety in a game that would otherwise grow stale rather quickly.

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Mastering all these weapons will be essential if you want to beat the campaign. While early missions are tediously easy, late game levels see you put numbered and outgunned, facing computer opponents that could thread a needle with a bazooka from miles away. Towards the end, Worms WMD starts to feel distinctly unfair, and frustrating deaths are something you’ll quickly become familiar with, but matches are short enough that you always have time for just one more shot. The unlock-able challenge missions, which adopt a more puzzle-like approach, are particularly tough, and honestly aren’t nearly fun enough to justify the time you’ll need to spend if you want to beat them.

The game might be more frustrating if it wasn’t so nice to look at. Worms, weapons, and environments all have a bright, slick, cartoony look to them, and are bursting with personality. From forest temples to the wild west, the environments of Worms WMD all feel distinct and lively, though  sadly some of the weirder areas from previous games, like the cheese moon from Worms Reloaded, are absent. The visuals are complimented by a soundtrack that hums along pleasantly in the background. You might never really notice it, but it adds ambience to the game and never feels annoying or tiring. Much more noticeable are the voices of your worms. These can be chosen from a wide array of options, each more amusing than the last. My team of worms spoke entirely in quotes from old action movies, but if you would prefer them to spout faux Asian “wisdom” or talk like Bear Grylls,  Worms WMD has you covered. New voice packs, as well as headgear for your worms, can be unlocked by progressing through the campaign, providing a nice incentive to keep going.

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Ultimately, Worms WMD is another Worms game. It adds a few things and takes a few things away, but it isn’t fundamentally different from any other entry in the series. If you need more Worms in your life, this is as good a choice as any, but if you don’t see the appeal of knocking worms into the sea with a baseball bat, this game probably won’t change your mind.

 

Worms WMD was played on Xbox One



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