Review: Worms Reloaded
Worms is a series that has been loved by its fans ever since the day of its inception. The classic formula of 2D destructible environments, humorous and offbeat voice-over tracks, and turn-based strategy mixed with live action carnage has since become a staple to the franchise. I still remember my first encounter with Worms which began with Worms: Armageddon on the Sega DreamCast in a four man, pass-the-controller multi-player match which had me cracking up laughing and at the same time fascinated and hypnotized by the coolness of what I was seeing. Something seemingly simplistic as a 2D title like this rarely turns out to have the sheer depth and replay value that the game has attained, and after this experience with my friends I sought after every Worms game I could get my hands on from that day forth, I even went back and played the older titles and became hooked.
But make no mistake I am very critical of my games, especially the ones that are my favorites. As you may have heard my opinions in the past you will know that I’m pretty rough when things change for the worse. That’s why it was great to see Worms release on the XBLA/PSN and Worms 2: Armageddon which have brought back the 2D style of the game after some less than favored titles in 3D which I actually enjoyed on the PlayStation 2 but were nowhere near the caliber of Team17’s other Worms entries. When I cranked up Worms Reloaded I had mixed feelings, the expectations were high and the skepticism was on full blast, I needed this game to blow me away since I’ve already been there done that with the awesome but aging 2D Worms format. I happily found that the game was better and better the more I played it, and now I am hooked.
The basics of Worms Reloaded are as follows, players will take turns controlling one of four worms to choose from a variety of interesting weapons and try to kill their opponent’s worms while avoiding traps and death via destructible environment. The campaign mode consists of some of your typical Worms matches which increase in difficulty as you go through them, eventually placing you into situations that feel impossible to walk out of alive, all the while making you a better player. Using coins you earn by beating missions in the campaign you can unlock and buy things for your worms such as cool new hats to outfit them with, extra weapons for multi-player mode, more single player missions, etc.
The artificial intelligence starts off very dumb, often times killing itself off saving the player a lot of work. At first this was disheartening to me but for newcomers to the series I realize that it will still be challenging. Immediately after the first few stages the A.I. begins to outclass even some online experts I’ve been up against and will have you spitting all over your monitor in disbelief at the skill and deadly accuracy of your computer-controlled opponents. This increase in difficulty is gradual enough for new players but will seem a bit abrupt for pros of the series who will easily dominate the first few scenes.
One example I found of this incredibly smart A.I. I experienced came around a stage where the player faces off with just two worms against a small army. Often times you will be outnumbered in the campaign like this but these missions are truly essential training if you ever want to achieve a comeback in multi-player mode. In this stage it was not the enemy’s intense and merciless strategy that shocked me (which was impressive in itself) but the act a worm committed of lobbing a grenade against one wall only to have it ricochet off two walls and fall directly on my worm’s head. This calculation of physics with wind and ricochets factored in was so exact it was downright chilling and had me cursing and praising the enemy A.I. at the same time.
Some of the more intriguing puzzles found in the campaign include timed ninja-rope/jet-pack challenges to increase your skill while challenging your speed. These are really fun and remind me of the older Worms titles approach to keeping things fresh, they are certainly a nice break from battle and provide variety in the game-play. Another interesting take on the puzzles are the suicidal ones that require you to kill yourself and fellow worms in creative ways that are not immediately apparent, especially as you progress through the campaign further. In one situation, for example, it is necessary to fire punch your team-mate onto a platform then use his turn to kamikaze into two enemies otherwise the mission cannot be completed. There is also Warzone mode for taking your skills to another level in pre-made team death-match challenges.
Team17 makes another triumphant return to the classic 2D look and feel of classic Worms titles like Worms: Armageddon while providing decent improvements on damage effects, smoke, and dynamic fire animations. Mainly you will be seeing the art style you already know and love from Worms but with some neat tweaks that will please your visual receptors and do little to impede any nostalgic value.
Naming your worms is really a major aspect to the game, though it may seem frivolous to newcomers. You can taunt with your worm names or make everyone laugh so hard they can’t concentrate on the task at hand. Being creative with your worms and naming them wisely is key.
The music is phenomenal and really gives the game a life of its own, as with previous titles. On top of having funny and engaging voices in a huge sound bank to choose from when customizing your worms, the soundtrack of background music scores really keep things from getting dull in a great way. If you like a lighthearted instrumental that almost tells a story with its strings and melody, you will be pleased with the audio this title provides.
Physics in the game have improved but are enhanced ever so slightly as to not upset the balance of the title. Long-time fans will still feel at home and everything feels tight and responsive. Some of the old physics occurrences that had fans saying “BS” have been fixed delicately to provide a more robust and fair experience. Limited swings for the ninja rope, for example, keep the tool from being over-powered and the new physics tweaks will require more skill to perform tricks with while reducing the number of errors made while pros are attempting to pull these off. Everything feels like it’s happening as it should with very little discrepancy between the player and the game.
Forts mode sets players against each other on massive forts of their team’s preference for a volley that is strategic but a little less exciting at times than normal matches and does typically end quicker. Bodycount is a great new survival mode for players to see how long they can last without dying when faced with never-ending waves of enemies! The tutorial mode should be good for those who need the extra help, but campaign does a solid job of introducing the many mechanics and objects in the game while still saving a lot of the exciting features for online. You can even participate in Race mode matches which opens up the door for custom time trial challenges to be created with your own maps and played online with friends.
It should be mentioned that this title comes with one of the best level editors ever seen in a 2D Worms title. The increased complexity that is possible with custom maps makes playing with four people online a much more competitive experience than in past installments. The shipped maps are equally great and the creative nuance serves to keep this game feeling new despite its many classic nods. One bit of a repetitive factor for vets will be the inclusion of background styles and texture overlays from the recent Worms downloadable titles on PSN and XBLA. This inclusion is easily forgivable though because of how awesome these are, the target PC audience perhaps not being exposed to them yet, and the fact that this title’s map creation tool allows importing of custom textures from image files! The random map generator is still here and allows for horizontal and vertical maps with a good amount of paths keeping things competitive.
Taking this game online only solidified my confidence in the fun I will have with this title for infinite days, weeks, months, and perhaps even years after diving into Worms Reloaded. People quitting out of matches after being abused by masters of the title in between rounds will no longer be an issue thanks to the default one round match setting as well as the lack of a break in between rounds. Worm selection has also been added back in, which is a great option to efficiently use your turns with the worm of your choice.
In my experience with the online thus far, even the bad players are seemingly vets of the cult classic franchise. I felt right at home with the murdering mayhem that ensues any time passionate and skilled Worms players meet up online. The game’s humor is quite great but don’t be fooled, it is also intense requiring a degree of finesse and strategic thinking. For those who are seasoned in Worms battle, you will not be disappointed. For those who are new, you have a great campaign to learn the game with which will adequately prepare you to play on the level of experts quite quickly, and this is when the best part of the Worms Reloaded experience begins.
Voice chat (with mute option thankfully), text chat, and minimal lag keep the game moving steadily and coherently. It’s also great to take your ridiculously named worms team online with up to 4 players and duke it out for bragging rights, rank, and the never stale fun factor Worms is famous for. The one thing which could have improved this game even further would certainly be more replays for multi-kills, large damage turns, and perhaps even full matches. Admittedly though, the game is so fun and addicting this is easily overlooked. The title even features a good amount of difficult achievements and support for game-pad controllers, showing that Team17 chose to go the extra mile for this one.
Some of the notable weapons included in this title are earthquakes, gas pumps, termites, ferrets, invisibility, sentry turrets, lightning strikes, Armageddon, bridge kits, and poison strikes. Gas pumps engulf a large area with sickness, causing the worms afflicted to drop health periodically. Ferrets run along surfaces and tunnels until they slam into a worm and detonate. Armageddon drops a massive barrage of random meteors which will ravage everything on the map including yourself if you’re not lucky! Emergency tele-porters ‘tele’ all of your worms to random locations in an instant, which is great when you find yourself vulnerable from all angles! There are many more notable weapons including a lot of classics like super sheep, holy hand grenades, and of course the unpredictable banana bombs. There are also some new weapons to be seen, but I won’t spoil the entire inventory of gadgets at this time since it’s often fun stumbling across them on your own.
With plenty to satisfy vets of the classic series and enough new features brought to the table to keep things fresh, Worms Reloaded truly is the full package that the franchise deserves. Enough is done to spice things up while at the same time the original framework is left intact and even polished upon further than in any previous installment. The increased level of competition and fun really makes an excellent formula into the perfect one. There has yet to be a 2D destructible environment focused game that can top Worms. With Worms Reloaded, Team17 has secured their crown once more and proved that they are still cooking up great new ways for us to kill each other’s worms. This game gives back to the fans so much it cannot be missed, and it’s also a must try for every type of gamer out there; especially strategy gamers, online multi-player fanatics, downloadable title junkies, casual gamers, and even chess players.
- Title: Worms Reloaded
- Platform Reviewed: PC
- Developer: Team17
- Publisher: Team17
- Release Date: Available Now on Steam
- MSRP: $19.99
- Review Copy Info: A download voucher for this title was provided to DualShockers Inc, for purposes of this review.