Ahh worms, can’t live with them, can’t live without them. Actually, that might be women? Or children? I’m not sure. The point is that I and lots of other people have spent a lot of time in our childhoods playing Worms, and this new game claims to bridge the gap between the worms that we all know and love and the newer breed of worms we just sort of have.
Worms W.M.D tells the tale of a young worm who falls in love with a worm from a rival family, and the ensuing war will test the very bond they have only so recently developed. And in the end the young worms will have to go on a journey of deep interpersonal discovery and introspection until they truly realize the nature of their own existence…oh wait…no, that was a dream I had last night…Worms doesn’t have a story, moving on.
The gameplay in Worms W.M.D has taken a few steps back and returned to the classic style of the old games. The major change is the switch back to a 2D perspective and control scheme, as well as the removal of things like water physics and classes which is nice for old-school players.
The gameplay really has moved back into the territory of the original game series, much to the benefit of the game’s playability. Once again, you control your team of worms on a battlefield against up to four opponents, either your friends or the AI, and you have an arsenal of weapons to explode, shoot-up, and in general just sort of maim the opposing teams.
Most of the skill of the game comes from choosing the correct weapons for the situation and aiming it correctly, factoring in things like the terrain and the wind. Other than that, knowing when to chase down health packs or new weapon drops is key to victory, but it’s the sort of game that you can just pick up with a group of friends and play a few rounds of for fun.
A big part of the game that has made a comeback is the inclusion of a ‘build your own team’ feature, allowing you to design your own team down to the team names, the tombstones they leave behind when they die, and the voices they use to shout at you with. It’s much easier to enjoy a game about killing tiny creatures when you’re invested in their success or failure because you basically created them like some sort of cruel, malevolent god. Also, you can create a team called “Bums” and name all the worms after different terms for poop, which is nice.
Another new addition is the inclusion of two new tactical elements, vehicles and buildings. For the first time in the series random vehicles will be dropped on the map for your worms to use, ranging from tanks and jeeps to helicopters and jets. At first you might think that these vehicles are always a good move, and you’ll race to get them before anyone else, but they come with drawbacks. For one thing you can’t move too well in most of them, and for another they explode once they run out of health and damage the worm who is using them, so think carefully before just hopping in.
The buildings mechanic also offers an interesting point of strategy, as you can now hide inside buildings to be safe (or rather safer) from bombing runs or even to spring a surprise trap from a worm that everyone else has forgotten was hidden in a building for the past 9 turns. Obviously, these buildings are useful, but they have the drawback of sometimes making aiming difficult, albeit this drawback is less of a drawback than that you find with vehicles.
As well as random battles, there are also missions and challenges to complete, although these are basically just random scenarios that try to fulfil the need for a single player campaign that most games feel the need for these days. Honestly, these challenges are unnecessary, but I suppose it’s nice to have them there if you can’t find any friends to play with and don’t want to keep fighting the AI opponents anymore.
Overall, the return to this gameplay is much welcomed, and the new features add a surprising amount of freshness to the old formula. Having said that, the gameplay hasn’t aged super well, so you might get a little frustrated with it after a while, it can feel a bit clunky trying to manoeuvre your worms around the little islands or caves you fight in.
The graphics have been updated nicely, and the game looks very smoothed and polished in blistering HD. It’s much easier to tell your teams apart with the cartoonish outfits you can dress your worms in, and the smoother graphics aid this point very well.
Sound-wise, the game is basically similar to its older versions, albeit with much more detail and layers of orchestral sound. Having said that, most of the music doesn’t have the same enjoyable melodies that the older games used to have, and you won’t find anything particularly memorable about them.
The nicest sounds actually come from the worms themselves, with a whole slew of different voices available to characterize your little creatures with. My own personal highlight is probably the Scottish ones who are just the best thing in Worms since the holy hand grenade.
Developer: Team 17
Publisher: Team 17
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: 23rd August 2016