Developer: Team 17
Date of North American Release: March 26th, 2009
Date of European Release: April 9th, 2009
Worms is a uniquely balanced turn-based strategy game in which multiple teams each made up of four worms each battle across randomly generated landscapes. If you were like me, you spent your childhood playing the Worms series back on the original Playstation. Players can expect updated graphics, but the same familiar weapons, backgrounds and overall feeling from the previous titles. Old fans of the series will want to pick up a copy immediately as it is a refreshing walk into the past.
Each team has 60 seconds per turn to pick off the opposing teams using insane weapons, tools, utilities and whatever strategies they can devise. Your worms will die when they lose all of their health, which can be drained by weapon use or will immediately vanish should they take a swim. The winning team is the one that manages to survive the mayhem and have at least one of their worms left standing. Sounds simple right? It's easy to play but difficult to master, as Worms is a game of deep strategy that will result in wins or losses depending on how your execution.
The environment in this game is a key part of planning your moves as it is constantly being altered from enemy attacks, and you need to keep the wind in mind as it will affect your shots. Old players will be happy to learn that classic explosive barrels, land mines, toolboxes, and crates also make a reappearance. The game does support trophies which is a great addition to this updated title. However, there is no real story mode to the game at all, just 25 challenge maps to play out against AI opponents. The online portion is where you will spend the majority of your time with this title. Supporting up to four players (for a total of 16 worms on one map), it can be a very addicting and devastating marathon, filled with destruction and laughs.
If you're new to the series, this is a turned-based strategy game. Players will control the four worms that compose their team (less if you so choose). However, it needs to be said that you do not control all four at once. When it is your turn, you have control over only one worm and the following turns you will control the next worm in line. Typically it'll be your team versus another team, though you can have up to four teams of worms going at it at once. You have up to 60 seconds to make your move. There is no penalty on you if you don't do anything, although you'll lose an attack opportunity. Like other turn-based games, you only get to execute one attack per turn. Players will want to know their weapons well in order to inflict the most damage on their adversaries.
Pictured above the Worms vast arsenal of weapons that can be devastating.
Each explosive weapon in Worms does a different amount of damage and has a unique blast radius. The TNT, for example doesn’t have range, but it does a ton of damage in a small impact area. The banana bomb, on the other hand, doesn’t do a whole lot of damage on the initial blast, but it has multiple smaller bananas that fly out and can also hurt any surrounding worms. There are also multiple variations of grenades that each have unique aspects to them. Each situation encountered will beg for a particular weapon to be used, and it's up to you to figure out the best tools for the job.
Firearms and hand-to-hand combat also make an appearance in the game. Just like explosive weapons, they have range and unique damage values. The shotgun and uzis have a very short damage radius, just like any bullet fired in real life. They are most effective when you encounter a worm with little health that is just begging to meet his maker. My favorite item in the game is the baseball bat - players get to literally hit a home run against an opposing worm. If your skilled enough, you can aim the shot to put the “ball” exactly where you want it. There are also some far-out cartoon-like weapons, such as the sheep that blow up in a kamikaze-like way at your command.
With so many destructible weapons to be found in Worms, the environment is constantly taking damage. That's right, unlike other games the environment can be a hazard or a friend. Every explosive that is discharged will create a crater in the very ground you walk on. Players can even use a weapon called the “blow torch” to dig tunnels underground to hide away, or cut through obstacles. On most of the maps you play, they'll be scattered with explosive barrels and antipersonnel mines. Of course, if you step on a mine it'll explode after a short countdown (although there are duds), or if you blow up a barrel it will inflict large amounts of area damage. The wind also has an effect - blowing rocket shots and grenades around according to its direction and power.
There are alot of different tactics for getting across the map. Unlike your average earthworm, these little guys can walk and jump around. But they are earthworms with limitations that prevent them from climbing around tall objects. However, there are several items that can be used to help your worm move around. The jetpack will be the easiest method of transportation, but it is not infinite and has a fuel limit. Another method is a ninja rope. The rope works like a grappling hook where you shoot it onto the surface you want hang on to. Once on the rope, you can maneuver it in to lift yourself on or even over high objects. However there are a few minor glitches which will sometimes cause it to not maneuver correctly, or it may even get stuck in certain positions.
This ambitious title is focused on online or offline multiplayer gameplay more so than the single player experience, unfortunately. The first thing you will want to get your hands into is the 3 training levels that come with the game. It is a good way to become familiar with the many various concepts and tendencies that are needed to win matches. It shouldn't take a player longer than a half an hour to complete the tutorials and unlock an easy trophy.
There is no real story mode to the game at all, just 25 challenge maps to play out. Overall, the experience should take no longer than two hours altogether. Challenge mode is all about completely destroying the other teams over and over again, which leads to a majorly repetitive experience. The first 15 levels are so simple a caveman can do it. The opponents will start off with such a small amount of health that even the most simplistic moves will do them away with ease - and they're not against "accidentally" bumping each other off.
The basic gameplay can get extremely repetitive and boring in singleplayer!
However marginal it may be, the difficulty level does increase as you progress from one challenge to the next. The last few challenges in the game can prove to be as difficult as going against a live opponent. Overall, single player challenge mode is not worth it at all. The only reason you will want to even touch it is if you're going for the completion trophy, or want to get your game ready for online play. It's never a good sign for a game when the main singleplayer experience is purely trophy related.
After the challenge mode has been completed, there is nothing to else to accomplish within the game. If you feel like it, you can go play quick matches against the computer. The computer is pretty stupid for the most part - sometimes they'll pull of stellar combos that will leave you wowed, but most of the time they bumble around setting off mines and killing teammates. In certain situations they will even use the same weapons over and over again - you can really tell that you are playing against a lackluster AI. Honestly, why would you want to play this mode if you have an online connection?
Online brings out the best experience you will have with Worms. You can play with up to 3 other players and battle it out with your custom-created or default teams. Voice chat is supported and could make for a memorable, laughable experience with the right opponents. The host of the match is limited, however, to only setting the game map up and nothing else - the options are next to none when making rooms with customizable play. It is possible to create rooms for friends only and have ranked matches for leaderboard positions, however.
The only real issue with online play is the fact it can take awhile to load up the map and all of the player data, even so long after release. There seems to be a good amount of players playing online to this day so it is very easy getting a match going, which is fortunate. Gameplay online is the same experience as the two offline modes offer - there are no extra weapons or no extra twists. The only real difference is the fact you are going against live and unpredictable opponents that make every game you play unique.
The worst aspect of online can come from playing the waiting game. Players will often take the full 60 seconds allowed to make a move. The end result are matches that can take a half hour or longer. Once one round is completed, get ready for another! It will take two wins by one player to win the entire match. Unfortunately, I did find players to disconnect quite frequently after their team is eliminated, or a round is completed. Overall, if you're looking to get a complete match in you better have at least an hour to spare.
If you are not into playing against strangers, you can play with friends in your very own house. Like the past titles, this one offers offline multiplayer gameplay. If passing around the controller laughing at the cartoon-like style that Worms offers with friends is not appealing, I do not know what is. There is no split-screen, as the action is played out just as if you were playing by yourself. This is one of the few PSN games that make use of offline multiplayer gameplay and I must say it is one of the best to play on.
Visual presentation in Worms is pretty much the same as any other standard Network title out there. The graphics are immediately familiar to the series of old, carrying over the cartoon-like looks with next-gen sharpness and appeal. The only three dimensional aspect is the background of the battlefield. There are six different styles of map that simply change the look of the terrain you are fighting on. For the most part, the game is a 2D experience that has a very simple look that will please long-time fans but may not impress newcomers to the series.
The musical aspect in Worms varies depending on the different map that is chosen. Each map has its own custom soundtrack, but overall there is not enough variety to keep the experience fresh. Players will get used to the familiar tunes relatively quickly. The menus also repeat the same soundtrack over and over, and it can get rather annoying. The weapons that are fired also carry unique sounds, and the Holy Hand Grenade will sing a tune familiar to any series fan. The best aspect to the game, however, is the voices of the worms that will never get old. Any damage or action requires a quip, and they're all very funny.
As options go, there are a few to play with. You can tinker around with the teams and make your own. Ever want to have Bob Barker and Johnny Knoxville as worm names? Well go ahead and do that! Another unique feature is the ability to the customize your tombstone held over from a slain comrade. The best feature the game offers is the ability to change the voiceover for your worms. There are numerous voiceovers, from an army drill sergeant to robots, gangsters, aliens and more! When playing online, it is a rare experience to come across worm teams with the same voices.
Thankfully, despite the uninspired soundtrack and visual aspects the control scheme is simple and does the job. Players can move and aim with the analog sticks with precise ease. There are not a lot of buttons to get familiar with as and the analog stick (or d-pad) will do everything. As far as the playing system goes, the series carries over the familiar pick up and play atmosphere.
Gameplay: 8/10 Superb
Singleplayer: 6/10 Tolerable
Multiplayer: 8/10 Superb
Technical: 7/10 Good
Overall: 7.3/10 Good
Overall, Worms is a game that offers a lackluster singleplayer experience. The repetitive soundtracks and unintelligent AI gameplay ruin any fun to be found while playing by yourself. The challenge mode is hardly anything to brag about for this title. Quick matches are optional, but really if you have an online connection (which you obviously do if you have the game), there is no incentive to ever play them...
...because the multiplayer aspect makes up for the flaws the singleplayer game contains. If you're a long-time series fan, you will want to pick up the title for sure. Worms is the only game of its kind on the Store. Until a similar title comes our way this is the best we have and it is good, but not great, game that should satisfy fans and newcomers interested in the genre or a laugh.