Worms has been around in some shape or form since 1995 and has seen numerous changes in its lifetime. From its humble beginnings, the series has seen numerous increases to its sizeable arsenal, a change or two in art styles and even a move to — and back from — three dimensions. Despite everything, the basic Worms formula has remained unchanged, even after 21 years. Is there much else that Team 17 can squeeze into their long running series?
Whereas the previous two titles, Worms Battlegrounds and Worms: Revolution, used 3D models in a 2D perspective, Worms W.M.D. returns to a completely hand-drawn art style. This delivers some of the most detailed and awe-inspiring backdrops to annelid warfare yet, ranging from British countrysides and Wild West Frontiers to Oriental landscapes that juxtapose classical and modern architecture. That being said, there are only six available landscape themes. Over any period of time, players are likely going to see the same double-decker buses, dilapidated apartment buildings and pagodas on many, many battlefields.
The weapon variety of Worms titles has never been an issue and while some weapons from previous games haven't made a return this time, we still have more ways to blow up your enemies than ever before. Series standbys return, such as the Banana Bomb, Sheep and Holy Hand Grenade, while the physics based Water Pistol and Water Bombs have not. With such a large catalogue of weapons from which to choose, it was probably a wise decision from Team 17 to streamline the arsenal so as not to overcomplicate things, especially as Worms W.M.D now introduces over 80 new weapon variations — slightly revamped versions of already familiar weapons, such as a flaming bazooka and poison gas grenades. Even with this huge arsenal, this does mean that long-time fans will likely miss some of their favourites.
Alongside the usual plethora of weapons, a number of utilities are available and can be used. Old favourites like the Jet Pack and Ninja Rope return, allowing worms to traverse the battlefield more nimbly, while girders and electromagnets can create defensive barriers. Once again, a few of the newer items like the Teleport Gun and Telekinesis have been omitted, but it doesn't detract too much from the gameplay options. Thankfully, the Ninja Rope, whose poor controls were mentioned in our review for Worms Battlegrounds, has received some tweaking. It still may not be quite as accurate with a controller as many would hope, but it has been significantly improved and allows experienced players to traverse the entire map with relative ease. It also means that the new Sheep on a rope weapon works effectively.
The strategic gameplay still demands a high level of precision that can lead to moments of frustration as you throw a grenade into a hardly visible speck of terrain, causing it to to bounce off course and straight into one of your own worms. It can also lead to those turns of pure genius as you have move across the entire map with some practised ninja rope skills, drop a stick of dynamite into a group of enemy worms and escape before they even knew what hit them.
The classes that were introduced in Worms Revolution have been removed and in their place are a few new gameplay mechanics. The simplest of the new additions are Buildings. They give your worms cover, obscure their location from the opposition, and give you the opportunity to lay traps for any unsuspecting attacker. The tactical advantages of using buildings are pretty obvious, but they are best used while playing the campaign and online multiplayer. During local multiplayer games, everybody will be able to see where a worm ends its turn and which traps have been placed because all players share the same screen, unless you all come to an agreement to be blindfolded when it isn't your turn, that is.
Crafting gives the player the ability to craft any of the game's standard weapons and more than 80 new variations on the fly. Weapon ingredients can be found inside new craft crates or by dismantling weapons that were held already. This gives the player that little extra bit of choice as well as being able to adapt to their circumstance better than they would if they were just hoping for a decent weapon in a standard crate. You can even craft during your opponent's turn. Once again there is a small drawback to this mechanic and crafted weapons can't be used until the player's next turn, which stops players from collecting the required ingredients and unleashing a ridiculously powerful concrete donkey all in the same turn.
Another new addition to the Worms arsenal is vehicles, namely the Tank, Helicopter and Mech. Each has its own uses and can be extremely powerful in the right hands. The Tank is slow moving, highly armoured and can fire 6 shots per turn, The Helicopter can quickly navigate the terrain but it is hampered by weak armour. The Mech is a quick ground vehicle but can only attack when within melee range. Just because you are in a vehicle, it doesn't mean that it is yours for the rest of the game, either. Any Enemy worm can eject you and use the vehicle themselves, so making the most out of them in the allotted time is vital. While the vehicles do provide some additional damage reduction to any worms that are inside, the other drawback is that it will explode once it has sustained critical damage, taking any nearby worms with it.
It is this balance of benefits and drawbacks that helps to make vehicles feel like a natural addition to the series. They can help to turn the tide of battle as easily as some of the other powerful weapons, but over reliance or poor usage of them can just as easily lead to a quick defeat. In fact, each of the new features adds a new tactical element to the battlefield and can change the balance of power dramatically. Team 17 has done a great job at balancing their power and weaknesses so that they feel like natural additions to the Worms world and not like some form of tacked on gimmick just to differentiate this title from the previous incarnations.
Worms W.M.D features a substantial single-player campaign, featuring 30 missions. Each mission has a single main objective as well as three secondary objectives that add a little extra flavour. The main mission objectives vary from defeating all enemy worms, protecting or defeating a vital worm, or locating and collecting a vital crate. Secondary objectives aren't necessary to complete the missions but can change the way that you approach each level and add a little bit of extra replayability to the campaign. Additionally, hidden among the campaign levels are wanted posters that give players access to up to 10 unlockable challenges once they are collected, which will test even the most experienced of Worms aficionados. These act like short puzzles that require an agile mind as well as an accurate aim in order to pull them off and they give the single-player campaign a little extra bite.
The AI still has a split personality. From time to time, enemy worms will drop a grenade directly at their feet, shoot their friends with a poorly aimed shotgun blast, or just jump into the watery depths below with absolutely no provocation. In other instances, it is as if they are possessed by a god of war, able to perfectly direct a bazooka shot through the most minute of gaps, between the rubble of the battlefield, for it to be caught by the wind and carried directly into the face of one of your own combatants who was teetering on the edge of a precipice.
As with previous titles in the franchise, Worms W.M.D is a multiplayer game at heart, and the real fun is found when taking the fight to actual people rather than the game’s often moronic, yet strangely accurate, AI. With six players being able to battle it out with up to eight worms each, the level of carnage reaches some wondrously explosive heights. Whether you decide to play locally with a group of your closest friends and a few beers, or go it alone online to battle with Worms fans across the world in ranked or unranked bouts, Worms W.M.D once again delivers the carnage and fun that is expected from the series.
The 29 achievements that on offer are quite varied, but nothing about them is particularly spectacular. If you're going for all of them, you’ll be required to obtain a gold Medal on all of the Training levels, complete the main campaign with all secondary objectives and generally play a large portion of multiplayer games, either online or locally. With the new vehicles that have been added, a few achievements have been thrown in for dispatching your enemies using these new death machines. Of course, there are also a couple that are related to customisation options, such as customising a full team of worms while using unlocked customisations. Overall, the list isn't very daunting with the most difficult likely to be for completing all of the challenge levels.
SummaryThe basic Worms formula hasn’t changed since its conception in the mid-90s. While each new game in the series brings with it new ways to destroy your foes, its heart remains the same. Team 17 has done a great job at balancing the power and weaknesses of the new mechanics so that they feel like natural additions to the Worms world, and while some of the old weapons haven't returned this time, the game never feels like it is reducing your tactical choices. Worms W.M.D continues to deliver exactly what we have come to expect from the series and fans will not be disappointed.
- Simple yet very fun gameplay
- Vehicles don't feel out of place
- Crafting gives player the ability to adapt
- Local multiplayer is still the best way to play
- Buildings aren't as useful in local multiplayer
- AI still has the luck of the gods
EthicsThe reviewer spent approximately 14 hours destroying worms, blowing them up, drowning them, and beating them with baseball bats. He unlocked 6 out of a total of 29 achievements. An Xbox One copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
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