by Matt Porter
previewed on PC
Worm out of the bag
There was one “secret” game that we were supposed to be going to see at Team17 at Gamescom this year. However considering a Worms title wasn’t yet on the list of games that were announced, it perhaps wasn’t much of a secret after all. Worms WMD is the latest installment in the illustrious franchise, and while there are of course some tweaks and new mechanics thrown in, Worms fans will be pleased to hear that the core gameplay remains largely the same.
Worms WMD is in fact the first entirely 2D game in the series since 2010's Worms Reloaded and it comes with some changes. Buildings are no longer simply part of the environment. You can actually go inside them and reap the benefits of extra cover or hidden items hidden inside. When you enter, the front of the building disappears and reveals the interior. If you’re on the enemy team, you won’t be able to see any of the worm’s movements unless you’ve got a member of your own team in the same building.
Some buildings provide more cover than others. A favourite so far is the hot dog stand, which barely hides you at all, but seeing a worm peeking out as if he were serving you food at the end of his turn is a sight to behold. Of course, just like everything else in Worms, buildings can be blown up, so don’t think you’re safe forever. You can even lob a grenade through an open door or window if you’re feeling particularly adventurous. Seeing a grenade disappear into a building and then hear it explode on an enemy worm is a rather satisfying deed. Some buildings have windows which can be smashed out without blowing up the entire side of the building, allowing you just that little bit of a peek inside.
Another brand new addition comes in the same of vehicles. Get close enough to a vehicle and a prompt appears allowing you to climb inside. You can drive left and right across the screen and jump just like you were on foot. Unlike on foot, however, they tend to have very effective weapons, especially if you happen to have climbed into a tank. Tanks fire a salvo of six explosive shots at a time that each do a whole lot of damage. Keeping the balanceis important though, and Team17 didn’t want tanks to be the automatic win button - victory isn’t a foregone conclusion. It might do a lot of damage, but its shots push back anything it hits, so it’s hard to keep your fire focused on one target. Gun turrets are similarly powerful, but have the downside that they are static. They leave you open to an easy counter attack after you’ve used it. Depending on where they are placed, it can also be tricky to aim it exactly where you the shots to hit but when you do, you’ll be doing a lot of damage.
Pretty much all the Worms games take the same approach towards creating randomly generated landscapes. The game draws a random shape - a series of splines filled with a repeating texture tile. Next some grass is placed on top, as well as a number of objects, and your level is done. The problem here is that no matter how good the art is, the levels end up looking largely the same. With Worms WMD, Team17 wanted to keep the variety of the old map generator, but still end up with something that looked like a hand drawn image. There are a huge number of hand drawn objects, and there are some calculations being done to make sure everything fits where it’s supposed to. For example, the game knows that the buildings should always be on top. It then stitches all these individual pieces of artwork together and layers them all up. Now instead of looking like a randomly generated hodge podge of items, it looks more like a scene.
Wormy, just wormy
So, Worms WMD features more of the same, but also with a number of new features which look set to make this the most varied game in the series so far. Watch out for this one worming its way onto your PC some time next year.