Title: Worms W.M.D
Genre: 2D Tactical, Turn-based Artillery
Official Site: Team17 Worms
Release Date: Originally August 23, 2016
Where To Buy It: Retail, Xbox Games Store, PlayStation Store, Steam, Nintendo Game Store
The Worms franchise has been a humorous diversion for me for years. A series based on battles between warring invertebrates with devastating arsenals, Worms has always been a cross between light-hearted fun and tactical warfare. With these two paradoxical traits going for it, the series has created its own niche and Team17 has been delivering refinements to the series over the past 20 plus years. The latest installment, Worms W.M.D, follows the same formula that got the series to the dance, namely destructible 2-D environments, cute, yet deadly, characters and over the top weapons to dish out punishment.
My immediate reaction to booting up Worms W.M.D was that the visuals have come a long way since I was first introduced to the franchise around 12 years ago. The worms and the environments have a surprising level of crispness and resolution in both the micro and macro as you zoom into your worm or peruse the entire battlefield. The visuals still trend heavily towards a cartoony look but this even more adds to the title’s charm. The cute worm voices when they fire a weapon, or die, are enjoyable at first but they quickly lose their appeal and become stale after a few battles. When the object of the game is to kill worms, I had hoped that the developers could come up with a treasure trove of audio content when this happens. Alas, we heard the same cute death throws over and over.
There are multiple new gameplay elements in Worms W.M.D that can help you gain the advantage when you are knee deep in the fog of war. Most notably is the addition of devastating vehicles such as mechs, tanks, and helicopters. The vehicles can withstand the brunt of an enemy attack essentially granting its occupant additional health points. The new title also features buildings that the worms can take shelter in, turrets and weapon crafting abilities.
As it had been some time since I dabbled in the Worms universe I really appreciated the training modes that are included. These modes both act as an introduction to the zany physics of the game (hand grenades have a tendency to bounce incredible distances) and acts as short level challenges were different awards are accrued based on how quickly you can complete the objective. As couch co-op is, in this writer’s opinion, Worms W.M.D’s greatest strength, the training modes also allow gamers to acquaint new foes with the basics before going head to head.
With all that is new in Worms W.M.D, I was left with an overall impression of sameness to the 2-D wars I had over a decade ago. The weapons have an incredible amount of overlap with previous titles, Handel’s Messiah still plays before the “holy hand grenade” explodes and the worms are still limited to a forward hop or a backward double jump. After this much time working on the series I was expected Team17 to come up with a whole new bag of tricks to mix into the gameplay. These are worms after all. Why not allow them to burrow into the environment? This would add a whole new level of strategy and encourage further destruction of the level as you would have to use explosives and bombs to get at the worm below. I would have also liked to see more new weapons. The exploding sheep is the hallmark of the series and highly inventive. That being said there is far too little innovation to each players arsenal, although the ability to craft weapons upgrades to the same old weapons is at least a step in the right direction.
Gameplay execution could also stand a revamp. There is an undue pause after every single turn before the player can begin their worm’s movements. With turns being swapped every thirty seconds or so, even a one-second pause can begin to grate on your nerves. Yes, this is a turn-based strategy game but switching between the turns could be far more fluid. This is in addition to the fact that there is a countdown timer before every player’s turn of a couple of seconds which amplifies the effect of the pauses. The gameplay also suffers from difficulty in executing jumps. If you are directly against a lip in the level that you want to jump, chances are you won’t be able to make it. Instead after multiple attempts, you’ll have to take a step back and try again or face the opposing direction and do a backward double jump. In short, a significant amount of your turn’s allocated time can be dedicated to trying to traverse a couple of small jumps. This continues to be a source of frustration as picking the right weapon, placing your worm in the ideal spot and executing great aim is what makes a battle fun. Struggling to get from A to B when it appears to be a basic exercise adds nothing to the gameplay and continues to be a point of contention with the series.
The gameplay also suffers from difficulty in executing jumps. If you are directly against a lip in the level that you want to jump, chances are you won’t be able to make it. Instead after multiple attempts, you’ll have to take a step back and try again or face the opposing direction and do a backward double jump. In short, a significant amount of your turn’s allocated time can be dedicated to trying to traverse a couple of small jumps. This continues to be a source of frustration as picking the right weapon, placing your worm in the ideal spot and executing great aim is what makes a battle fun. Struggling to get from A to B when it appears to be a basic exercise adds nothing to the gameplay and continues to be a point of contention with the series.
Verdict: Worms W.M.D is an improved version of a formula which Team17 successful concocted many years ago. The improved visuals and camera control are a welcome addition as are some devastating vehicles and new crafting abilities. Unfortunately, when it is all said and done, the overall core Worms experience has changed little with frustrating jumps and mostly the same weapons. The series could stand a shot in the arm and would benefit from new gameplay such as the ability to tunnel or bore through environments. Perhaps that has yet to happen because worms don’t have arms.
- Looks great
- Love the vehicles
- Continues to be a charming and fun title
- If you are new to the series, check it out
- Same old, same old
- Jumping needs to be fixed.
- Too long of a wait between turns