We’re worms, we’re worms, and we’ve come to win the war!
DisCONNECT resumes its semi-regular broadcasts with another review. It’s all I ever seem to post about these days. Will I ever rant again? Maybe. Hopefully. Probably. Yes.
Ah, Worms. The Worms franchise has been kicking around for friggin’ ever it seems, with Team 17 releasing a “new” game on just about every platform you can imagine. I’d say that the franchise has come a long way since the first game, but I’d be lying; after Worms Armageddon, arguably the greatest Worms game of all time, the only significant update was when Worms went 3D, and we all know how that one turned out. Worms Reloaded seeks to go back to the old Armageddon days; it even has the radiation icon that was seen in W:A. But do Team 17 actually add anything worthwhile? It’s pretty easy to say that the series have fallen into the Unreal Tournament trap, where the same game is released with a few minor things added (mostly graphical) and a few things removed.
The first thing that strikes you is the level of customisation present. In the old Worms days you’d choose a grave marker and a voice for your worms, and apart from giving them names that was it. Now you have the option of giving your worms hats (obviously taking a leaf out of TF2’s book), as well as changing their skin colour. Many of the voices have been updated for the modern age, as opposed to them simply being reused since Worms Armageddon first came out. You also choose a pre-designed fort for your worms for the Fort game mode, which we’ll get into later. As if that wasn’t enough, you also select a victory dance for when you win. Can’t say that most of this was needed, but it’s a nice touch.
The game itself follows along traditional Worms lines. There’s two single player campaigns available for you to play through, as well as a series of tutorials. The AI range from “abysmal” to “dead accurate” and represents a continual problem with the Worms series; Team 17 haven’t yet managed to make a convincing fake player. AI is a tricky thing to get right; at the end of the day, the AI always knows how to make a perfect shot, because it’s a computer, it can process all the maths in the blink of an eye. Making convincing AI involves creating code that fools the player into thinking that the computer isn’t perfect and can make mistakes. Unfortunately Team 17 seem to interpret this as meaning that they should code the AI to deliberately make moronic mistakes, like tossing a grenade straight up into the air, or using a tiny amount of power when firing the Bazooka. At other times the AI is bang-on and seems to be able to calculate shots that miraculously toss you into traps on the other side of the map. Normally I’d say “Who gives a shit?” about the campaign, but in order to unlock more weapons, landscapes and other shit, you need to complete the campaign to “purchase” them using the in-game currency. Completing things earns you credits, which you then need to spend on weapons and stuff to play with them in-game.
Why the hell do they insist on doing this? Just give me all the goddamn content from the start instead of making me sit through a shitty single player campaign to be able to use them in a multiplayer match. Some of the missions are puzzle-style or challenges, requiring you to reach a part of the map using a small number of tools, or race the clock to get somewhere. They break up the campaign but aren’t enough to make it any more interesting.
Multiplayer mode is more or less the same as it’s always been; you can play across a network/the Internet or hot-seat style on the same computer. Apart from the normal “kill everyone” modes, there’s also the Fort mode that appeared in some of other games where each team sits on one side of the map on a selected fort landscape, with the intention that they shoot at each other across a stretch of water. The forts aren’t all that imaginative, unfortunately; I’d like to have seen some actual forts with tunnels and so on as opposed to just a big hunk of terrain in the shape of a castle or something, but never mind. Crate drops and utility items all reappear, as do land mines. Also new in the hazards department are sentry guns, which can also be dropped by the player; step in front of one and it shoots you in a way similar to the Uzi weapon. More often than not, they’re just a total pain in the ass unless they’re player-placed, so I tend to just ignore them.
Weapons are similar to what you’re already used to, with Sheep, Homing Missiles, the Shotgun, Uzi, Blowtorch and so on all making a return. One welcome feature is the ability to change the direction that an airstrike arrives from; normally airstrikes arrive from the left only, but you can change this behaviour at will. Girders and Jetpacks also reappear, as does the Ninja Rope. They’ve stripped a few pointless weapons from the game and appear to be sticking more to the core gameplay experience that was found in Worms Armageddon, rather than adding weapons which, quite frankly, are of dubious utility. That said there aren’t as many as there were in Worms Armageddon, or Worms 2 for that matter, though the majority of the weapons are useful.
Graphically the game looks the same as most of the previous 2D Worms games; the style of the characters hasn’t change significantly since Worms 2 first appeared. Prior to that, Worms were a couple of pink pixels with big eyes and small combat harnesses. Everything has been scaled for high res displays though, so at least things look sharp. Audio is the same as practically every other previous Worms game, though some things have been remastered or re-recorded.
It’s Worms, what the hell else can I say? Although the graphics have been scaled up for high res displays, there’s nothing significantly new here at all except for the new weapons. They’ve pretty much just redone the existing graphics with a higher resolution.
The voice acting is amusing, but the lines they spout were kicking around in Worms 2 or Worms Armageddon. Really Team 17, isn’t it time you came up with something new? There’s paying fans a serivce, and then there’s lazily reusing content.
Inspite of the lack of significant changes, it’s still amusing. The classic Worms gameplay is all here, and it’s a pretty good ‘reboot’ of Worms Armageddon. So long as you don’t expect anything significantly new, and so long as you want to play with friends, it’s pretty good. The fort gameplay mode is good too, despite its lack of customisation.
Whether you like Worms or not will determine how often you’ll play, but my major concern here is that we’ve seen this all before. There’s nothing significantly new here to warrant any major fanfare. It’s like Worms Armageddon, but it’s not. How long it holds your interest will depend on how much of the series you’ve played previously, and how much you like the series in the first place.
Lifespan and Gameplay are the two major categories for DisCONNECT reviews, and both tend to have a roughly equal rating, but since there’s no real set criteria for DisCONNECT reviews I’m going to give this one a “Pass” mostly because of its lifespan. The fact is that, as someone who has played all of the Worms PC games and some of the other games on the other platforms, Worms Reloaded doesn’t bring anything so startlingly new that I’d be playing it for hours on end. To borrow a phrase from Zero Punctuation, “It’s like Worms Armageddon, BUT” it’s not up to the same sort of level. W:A was a fantastic game that added lots of new things and gameplay. Worms Reloaded is like a watered down version with a dodgy and tedious single player campaign that is essential to unlock content to play in multiplayer mode. Even then most of the weapons you’ll have seen before, so the incentive for Worms veterans to keep playing is pretty low. Even those who are new to the series will probably become bored with it; it’s fairly low on content. Most disappointing is the reuse of previous assets which are dating back to the late 90s.
I know that Worms Reloaded is itself a PC update of Worms 2: Armageddon, which itself is a console version of Worms Armageddon, but the series has been getting stale for a long time now. It’s time to either make some changes or to move on. The Unreal Tournament series has suffered from the same problem, where every game from the first one has been more or less the same. Worms is getting the same way. Worms Reloaded in itself isn’t a bad game and I’m not saying that it’s shit and unworthy of your time, but most of us have seen this all before, so the big question for Team 17 is “Why?” I suspect the answer they’d give is “Why not?” but that’s seriously not good enough.