Worms is one of those games the enjoyment of which tends to mark you as a certain type of person. Specifically; it usually marks you as a (probably British) child of the 90s/00s who was one of those poor souls toiling away at an old Windows gaming PC, rather than one of those fancy new consoles all the other kids were playing with.
Its legacy as a staple of early PC Gaming and the many fine hours of gameplay people have sunk into it have meant that, since their first appearance in 1995 (sidenote; God I’m old), there’s been a steady stream of Worms games that have all kept the same basic formula.
You have a team of pink, blobby worms complete with silly hats and funny accents (Ach, Aiem Deed!) who must use a phenomenally varied arsenal of nonsensical weapons, from superhero exploding sheep right through to the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, to destroy another team of pink blobs as well as most of the terrain around you in surprisingly tense turn-based combat.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this is a great formula and its meant that people who love the Worms series have been able to dip in and out uninterrupted for almost two decades now. However, it’s also meant that ‘Worms’ has never really expanded or taken off enough to drive the Franchise into more than Cult-Favourite status. Basically if you like these games you’ll always like them and if you don’t like them you never will but to anyone outside this binary, there hasn’t been enough to pull you in.
Fortunately, it seems like the guys at Team 17 have taken the opportunity to break this cycle with the latest instalment of the venerable Annelid-slaughter fest; Worms:WMD.
While the core turn-based gameplay remains much the same as it always has, WMD is the first title in years that actually feels fresh and new.
That’s largely thanks to a range of new features which, now added, feel like they should have been put in years ago. Not only can your worms now enter some of the buildings that have always dotted the map and use them for cover, but a host of vehicles and new mounted weapons mean that the options for destruction are suddenly turned up to eleven.
The vehicles in particular are a breath of fresh air as the ability to take a hit on your enemies turn, then retaliate with a barrage of tank shells is incredibly satisfying. While some allowances have been made for the famously difficult to navigate terrain of a Worms map three rounds in (tanks can ‘jump’ to get out of small craters) there is still enough balance here to keep the vehicles fun while maintaining a sense of balance in the game.
Similarly, Mounted Weapons also add a host of options without breaking the gameplay. Using one is, again, a lot of fun as the feeling of a machine gun or sniper rifle opening up on unsuspecting worms can make even the most jaded reviewer giggle like a schoolboy but the choice of when to do it can lead to some interesting situations. After all, once you stop firing you only have a few seconds to try and move away from it and more often then not you could be leaving your worm out, exposed and sat next to a highly explosive piece of terrain.
If there’s an update I didn’t really get on board with, its the new crafting system. To be honest this never felt like something the game was missing before, so its addition now left me feeling a bit unenthused and beyond a couple single player missions where you need to use it I never really got into it.
The graphics have gotten a bit of an update, though that’s never been the real concern here, and new technology is clearly at work rendering larger battlefields and utilizing the two-layered approach that now gives us our buildings, caves and other structures. Again, the updates here do enough to make the game feel fresh while maintaining the unique appeal of a Worms title.
As always with a Worms title, all of these disparate elements are wrapped up with a bow of slapstick comedy and I’m glad to say that this too has survived the latest iteration. Enemy worms will ruthlessly mock your bad aim, as well as swearing vengeance with pithy one liners when you do hit. There’s still a certain amount of morbid humour in watching a defeated worm off itself with a final sad farewell (We’re all doooomed!).
Ultimately, Worms: WMD is still a Worms game and, as such, is going to be most enjoyed by those who’ve always been the target audience and the loyal fan base. However, I’m happy to say that with a handful of tweaks and new features it finally is starting to feel like a Franchise that is ready to join us in 2016. If you’ve ever been curious about the games, like turn based combat, or even if you’re just kind of bored then this is definitely one for you to check out.
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