by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Watch out for those Birdies
Normally, as a worm, your worst enemies would without doubt be birds. But with Worms Crazy Golf, Birdies, Eagles and Albatrosses are a worm’s best friend. Our favourite slimy pink characters have decided to leave their cosy worm holes and head for the lush pastures of the golf links. Not that they’re your standard golf courses though; various objects are scattered over the multi level courses to prevent our plaid wearing golfer worms from sinking their dimpled balls into the cup (hmmm...golf parlance is littered with naughty euphemisms, isn’t it?).
The main game mode (Career mode) has your worm avatar (no, he’s not blue or from Pandora) playing through the three standard courses on offer, each one being available to play once the preceding course has been completed. Your worm of choice must navigate each hole in par or better to move on to the next hole. The opening holes give gamers a chance to hone their skills and give an indication of what lies beyond. Not that the controls are overly difficult, mind you. It is simply a matter of selecting from one of the four available clubs (the best one is usually defaulted); aim where you want to hit the ball, and then hold the mouse button for the desired strength.
More than just fairways and rough
Starting with the basic obstacles of Greenkeeper Worms, bunkers and water hazards, Worms Crazy Golf gives an indication of a simple game. But progressing through the holes and courses adds more dangers for our golfing heroes. Worms series favourites such as sheep that like to gobble up golf balls, old Grannies that whack away balls with their handbags, howling winds, and even magnetic pulses that alter the flight path of your superb tee shots all attempt to begrudge your worm from the ultimate glory.
'Just one more hole' was a phrase that I kept saying to myself as I’d sink the par putt on a hole that had given me all sorts of grief. But a couple of hours later, I was still at it, trying to complete the course and move onto the next. The main objective is obviously to make Par, but there are three other secondary objectives for each hole. Each hole has 20 coins that need to collected, a special bonus crate to be destroyed and a skill score to be reached. Along the way you’ll pick up upgrades such as Parachutes for your ball to drop safely, a Blast Shot to give you that extra power you need, and even a Reverse Gravity bonus that does exactly as its name suggests. Reaching par and carrying out the three other goals make the game so much more replayable. Some may find that replaying the hole a number of time to complete all the requirements a tad tedious though, but personally, I found it rewarding when I had completed all the goals.
Get your challenge on
If it wasn’t the Career mode keeping me going, it was trying to complete the Challenges with the best possible score. Challenges appear throughout the courses, enabling you to compete against other gamers, albeit not directly but through the leaderboard. Challenges include a nearest-the-pin type contest whereby you score more points the closer you get to the hole, a challenge where you need to keep the ball in the air for the longest time, a challenge requiring you to hit a number of targets in the shortest amount of time and the least number of shots. Each course has one of each type of the five challenges, allowing you to pit your skills against everyone else.
If you have up to three friends sitting beside you, there is always the Hot Seat Multiplayer mode to keep the competitive juices flowing. Letting your customised worm - you can use the coins earned on the course to buy special hats and balls (which have no effect on gameplay) and improved clubs –take on your friends is a fair amount of fun. Of course, it often pays to tee off second, so that you don’t make the same mistake as your friends or replicate their superb shots. Laughing at your friend’s misfortune or your own skills certainly gives you a certain level of bragging rights.
Golf is a short crawl ruined
Visually, Worms Crazy Golf is reminiscent of other Worms titles. Despite the cartoon nature of the graphics, they fit in extremely well with the series. The backgrounds are vibrant and colourful, and the animations of the characters are smooth. The ability to zoom in and out (definitely required on the larger holes) is always present, and the interface is well laid out enabling a clear view of the task at hand. The trademark Worms humour is also present in some of the visual as well as the audio, but not to the extent of previous games in the series. As mentioned earlier, there are the exploding sheep of past Worms publications, mean old ladies with walking sticks and Greenkeeper Worms that scream out ‘Kamikaze’ just prior to detonating themselves. They’re worth a chuckle for the first time, but the problem is that there are too few of these moments compared to other Worms games.
Par for the course
Although there are some minor disappointments with Worms Crazy Golf, they certainly won’t stop gamers from having a heap of fun with it. The game is addictive in its simplicity, requiring you to continually do better to move on to the next stage. And the Challenges will without doubt bring out the competitive nature in all of us, striving to make your way further up the Challenge leaderboards. The controls are intuitive and the visuals follow the formula set by previous Worms titles. If you’re a fan of fun golfing games or of the Worms series, then this is one is worth picking up. But for now, I’m going to head back to the course to whack some balls with my worm...Wait that doesn’t sound right. Oh, never mind, you know what I mean. See you at the first tee.
The game is addictive in its simplicity
Audio is a little disappointing, especially for a Worms game