Mass destruction makes a welcome return to the Worms series.
Worms as a series has been around for over 20 years, even so, ever since the release of Worms: Armageddon fans have felt like the series has gone in different and even sometimes unsatisfactory directions. Worms WMD seeks to go back to what made Armageddon popular while also adding its own flavours, and it does a fantastic job too.
The single-player aspect of Worms WMD offers four modes to select from. The first are the training levels, although the pro training levels certainly shouldn't be taken lightly and are a challenge in themselves, tasking players with using the various mechanics in the game to collect crates or destroy targets. The beauty with these is that they don't have to be completed to access other modes, so Worms veterans can simply pick up and play the game from the get-go. Scores can be earned in the training levels, though, giving some incentive to play and replay them.
The bulk of the content in single-player is in the campaign, though. There is some loose idea of a story running through it in the sense that a cutscene comes up every once in a while with the typical Worms slapstick humour, but there isn't any narrative as such. It's not as if Worms needs a narrative, though, and the campaign offers enough challenge and levels to make it a worthwhile mode to play, taking quite a bit of time to complete and even longer if you want to do the optional objectives like killing worms with certain weapons or not losing any health.
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Scattered throughout the campaign are wanted posters for worms which then allow players to access levels in the challenge mode where they are tasked with killing the worm in question. The catch here is that the context for killing them is more of a puzzle than the main game. For example, one level requires you to kill the worm using a jetpack only, meaning you have to fly near mines in a certain order to move the enemy worm into the water. The last mode is the bonus mode, but it's mostly just more challenge maps with enemies to kill, crates to collect, or worms to defend with limited resources.
The multiplayer may well be what a lot of people, especially fans of the Worms series, are concerned about, especially since the series has always prided itself on its easy to grasp and easy to play multiplayer. In terms of online, as with previous iterations, there are ranked matches and unranked matches available, the former taking the form of a 1v1 match. This is great for those who want to play competitively, although it seems a little strange to have that as the only option to play ranked matches. Unranked can take many forms, for example, like quick games and private games with customisable amounts of worms and weapons.
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Of course, local multiplayer makes a return as well and up to six players can play together either using the same controller or using others. With local and private matches the customisation options are seemingly endless and offer a wide variety of things to choose from, which should be a welcome feature for fans who like experimenting with wacky maps and over-the-top weapons. Everything from worm health to turn time and weapon availability can be customised to get the experience just how you want it.
Customisation is also present in the team creation, as to be expected. Team names, worm names, outfits, speechbank, victory dance, gravestone and fanfare can all be chosen from a variety of options and as you progress through the game you unlock more customisation options, giving some incentive to keep pushing through the single-player.
In terms of gameplay, though, the traditional turn-based formula is there but a few additions worm their way into the mix. There are now helicopters, tanks and mechs for the worms to use, as well as mountable turrets like snipers, mortars and machine guns as well. Other new features include weapon crafting and buildings you can enter and move around in. On paper these new additions all appear as if they may weigh down the game's traditional simplicity with complicated and unnecessary features, but in practice they work perfectly because they keep it simple and they're easy to use. The vehicles are moved with the left stick and have one attack each, the building layouts are basic, and the crafting system (the feature we were most concerned about) is easy to get to grips with as well.
To dwell on the crafting system for a moment, each weapon is made out of components like Banana Bomb Seeds, and in the weapons menu there is another tab for crafting, allowing players to break down weapons into parts, of which there are only four to choose from, or use parts to build weapons. This can even be activated during an enemy turn, although there is a time delay for all crafting. It can be done quickly and simply which allayed our fears that it would be too much.
Weapons are crazier and more ridiculous than ever, with favourites like the Concrete Donkey making their welcome return and new variations on existing weapons emerging, like Sheep on a Rope and the Bazooka Pie. With the old weapons, the revised modesl and the brand new ones like the OMG Strike (an aerial laser slicing through the whole map) the roster of weapons is massive and there's a lot of destruction to be wrought. All are incredibly fun to use too and there is a lot for Worms fans, especially those of Armageddon, to get excited about.
The visuals aren't 3D in Worms WMD either. Here the Worms series comes back to its 2D roots, although the worms in the game have their own distinct look. In fact, the whole game has a great visual style, from the new worm design all the way to the vehicles and how they move. There is definitely a war vibe that veins through the entire design of the game, with destruction around every corner. Even in the tutorial, for instance, it looks a bit grainy like an old wartime show.
The game isn't without its faults, though, as there are a couple of things players will notice within the first hour or so of gameplay. The first is the camera, which can be increasingly difficult to use, especially when your worm is moving quickly off screen and the camera won't keep up with them. Other technical issues emerged as well, such as the worm's voice coming out of the controller when we were out of a vehicle when it's only meant to do so when you're in one. The game also got a bit jittery at times both in the loading screen and during single-player, although the multiplayer ran much better for us.
One thing that got particularly grating were the worms' voices. We chose a Survivalist voice for ours, emulating Bear Grylls, and we thought it was brilliantly funny initially, but the game overdoes the voices and the worms say their limited stock phrases far too often, something we found annoying after only a few training missions. We assume this would be the same for any voice in the game, not just for the Survivalist one.
Worms WMD brings a lot to the table both as a game for Worms fans and for those who have never played a Worms game before and want something easy to pick up. It retains that essential Worms charm of being incredibly fun regardless of player skill level, and the variety and quality of gameplay offered is at a level that Worms has missed for years. WMD should please a lot of fans, although when considered on paper maybe the new additions might put some people off. Don't be fooled, though, this game is definitely worth a go.
8 / 10
Easy to pick up and play. New additions are simple. Return to 2D visual style. Huge variety of gameplay and customisation options. Lots of single-player content. Great local and online multiplayer.
Jittery at times. Camera can be a pain. Minor audio issues with controller. Annoyingly frequent worms voices.
Only one ranked multiplayer option.