Worms W.M.D (Xbox One Review)
Unearthing Worms from its dormant slumber once again, Team17 grab what remnants they can from the aged repository that is Worms 2: Armageddon. Discarding, what could only be described as a blight on the Worms franchise, the horrible transition to 3D models and environments is no more. Gone too are the days of realistic physics based mechanics and back in with the old, cartoon style violence and explosive nonsensical nature that Worms fans solemnly love and birthing Worms W.M.D.
Worms W.M.D’s presentation says it all, the cover art showing mayhem on all fronts. Vehicles entertain the idea of a larger play space and the sneering worms dictate the attitude. The Worms franchise has never alluded to any other ideas, sticking with simple death and destruction that it perpetuates – destruction you can customise to your very whim.
Staying true to the infamous Worms formula, Worms W.M.D offers up much of the same. Giving the player a plethora of options to invest their time, but none too unfamiliar to warrant fresh intrigue. To start you have the standard Training missions for you to work your way through; an almost mandatory set of governing rules you’ll find in any video game in the 21st century. With 20 of these missions to fire through you’ll be a professional banana bomb thrower in no time. Testing how “green” of a soldier you really are, you’re faced with a timer amidst learning the ebb and flow of combat. Depending on the time you mastered the tutorial you’ll be given a medal, one which will reflect your proficiency and be compared online to friends and rivals.
That being said, if you’re confident enough in your knowledge of the Worms franchise then you can easily skip these aforementioned hand-holding sessions and jump straight into Worms W.M.D’s Campaign. Bolstering a wealth of 30 missions to quench your fetish for killing earthworms – a violent soiree Earthworm Jim is thankful not to be a part of. Each of the 30 levels at your disposal have their own unique set of objective to complete. Whilst some are essential for the successful completion of a mission like; killing all worms, collect an important crate, and protecting the VIP worm. Completing these secondary objective just add to the overall completion and awarding the player with a golden “Tick” to represent that the mission has been completed to its highest calibre.
The singleplayer adventure doesn’t end there. All good developers have a way of keeping players hooked long after the meat of a game has been done and dusted. If you were observant enough whilst battering your way through the Campaign missions, you’ll have noticed swaying wanted posters littered around. Upon collecting one of these posters you’ll be granted access to one of many Challenge missions. Restricted to a simple set of weapons or vehicles, your job remains pretty much what you’d expect, kill the enemy worm(s). In doing so, you earn yourself a nice little hat to add to your collection. If that still isn’t enough to tide over the singelplayer crowd then there are a few bonus levels to take on too. Nothing spectacular to be noted, other than they are a tad “challenging” than the challenge missions themselves. Through completing all of the above you’ll gradually start unlocking new content thanks to the new levelling system. For each successful mission completed you are rewarded with an unknown amount of XP. I say unknown due to the fact that there is no representative experience gain shown on screen and there are no identifiers to indicate that the medal type or challenges/sub-objectives completed add to that overall amount. Hopefully a future update can implement a better feedback for this scenario, as it’s unclear if the effort is truly worth it.
Time spent within the confines of singleplayer will hopefully have mustered up enough courage within you to face more intelligent, but not necessarily skilled, opponents in the online multiplayer. Competing with others online will net you rewards and ranks for winning games with equally ranked opponents. Or you if you’re less competitive, you could settle for a friendly unranked match where rules and regulations are less strict and attitudes are more tempered. But let’s be honest, Worms has never been about how well and often you rank up online, it’s never really been about outmatching the CPU in off-the-cuff grudge matches. It all boils down to sitting on the couch with your friends and blasting the hell out of one another. Whilst some friendships flourish through games that bolster co-op play, Worms hones its ability to destroy them. Cursing your friends as they play using cheap tactics or simply go for the easy kill by dropping a Concrete Donkey on your head from their safe space. Each match is a true test of friendship,those who survive these trials of frustration and anger are truly worth preserving.
Worms wouldn’t be Worms without its arsenal of hilarious weaponry. From explosive sheep to the Monty Python inspired Holy Hand Grenade. No two weapons are alike, but given how expansive Worms’ catalogue of ordnance, there are bound to be a few roadblocks in the “new ideas” department. So instead, Team17 have implemented a crafting system that allows players to craft the most basic weapons or modifications of those weapons. A bazooka can now have incendiary shells or grenades can be altered to release gas. Some new weapons have been added, courtesy of the “All Stars” pre-order pack like Goat on a Rope, or Joanna Dark (Perfect Dark). You can even utilise the Rocket Leagues staple rocket car.
Though it is cool that Rocket League’s backflipping vehicle is at our disposal, thankfully there are others. Tanks, Helicopters and Bipedal mechs make an appearance. Tanks act as defensive mortars, barraging enemy worms with a salvo of rockets. Helicopters are light and agile forms of transport with a machine gun mounted underneath. And mechs are melee behemoths that have the power to send worms soaring with one swing. They are nice addition and with the ability to eject from these vehicles simply by walking up to them, ensure that they aren’t overpowered.
The play areas to employ these modes of transport have increased substantially. This is to not only encompass the use of vehicles but to allow for more players to join the fray. The regular 4 player limit has been breached and now allows 6 players to battle it out with up to 8 worms each. That’s a lot of carnage! Banana bombs be flying and sheep be soaring. Taking cover is a no brainer in Worms, as players battle outside and thanks to the new systems/changes to Worms W.M.D. indoors. There are now towers, ziggurats, and all manner of households for your combatants to seek refuge in. Landscapes may not be as simple or dangerous as they once were – some landscapes where literal towers of dirt with worms ready to topple off – they still hold plenty of traps and oceans of water to drown in. More realised than before, landmasses are now more coherent and have more detail. You can battle on war torn castles and destroyed cities. Although, some of the terrain can be confusing to negotiate due to its 2.5D art style.
This foray into Worms W.M.D has been an absolute blast. Removing the 3D and physics based ideas that its lesser cousins had endowed and bringing back the 2D over-the-top carnage was what Worms needed to revitalise the franchise. Now offering up to 6 friends to play at once and a whole new crafting system there is plenty of friendship destroying fun to be had. With fewer multiplayer game modes to be had, the repetition may set in quicker but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. For Worms fans this is a rejoicing moment. For anyone who hasn’t stepped into the anarchy filled world of Worms, now is the time.