by Ingvi Snædal
reviewed on PC
Worms on Ropes
Worms is and always has been Worms (not counting Worms 3D or its kin). In fact, no other game has made me feel as old as Worms: WMD. Starting it up presents you with a screen proudly throwing “Team 17: 25 years of gaming excellence!” in your face, reminding those of us who played the original of the fact that there are people going to college this year who weren’t even conceived when it was released. Let’s get one thing straight right away. I love Worms and always will, not only because of the personal history I share with the series, but for the fact that it is one of the few games still focusing on local couch multiplayer gameplay. Online multiplayer is fine and dandy, but there’s nothing quite like feeling your friends’ disappointment as you send their last worm flying into the sea with a baseball bat. Nor is there anything quite like having their shoulder next to yours to punch when they reciprocate. Worms: WMD brings a lot of new gameplay to the table, in addition to bringing it back to its roots, but the title is unfortunately also bogged down with bugs.
While Worms: Clan Wars was an interesting step away from the Worms 2 aesthetics and ballistics physics that had dominated the series since its return from its disastrous foray into third-person 3D land, its ‘realistic’ rope physics robbed it of much of its charm rendering the iconic ninja rope all but useless. Worms: WMD (which stands for “Worms Must Die” and not the more obvious “Weapons of Mass Destruction” as I’d originally assumed) brings the game back to its 2D homeland with wonderfully charming vector graphics and an aesthetic style that makes an old fan feel right at home. The worms move, jump and more importantly rope around like they did in Armageddon and World Party, but their armoury has changed quite a lot.
You’ll be able to customise the gameplay experience to a great extent, so if you’d prefer to play only with weapons from the original ‘95 title, you’re more than welcome to do so, but for those of you looking for something new - something more - a whole heap of upgrades awaits you. The most obvious and most visible addition is that of fixed stationary guns, sentry guns, tanks, helicopters, mechs and rocket league race cars on the map. These are powerful additions which serve a purpose, but can come at a cost. The tank, for instance, fires six explosive rounds, two at a time, allowing you to adjust your aim between them, not unlike the Mega Mortar did. If you happen to be inside the tank when it explodes, however, your worm will take a fair bit of damage as it is projected up from the tank. The helicopter allows you to traverse the map quickly and fires a machine gun straight down from its cockpit, but when you run out of ammo, you’ll have a limited amount of time to make your escape and the damned thing will land wherever it was when time ran out; even if that happens to be between the islands. (I don’t know how much you know about helicopters, but they don’t float). The mech runs fast and jumps high, but it requires you to get up close and personal in order to deliver its hulk-like smash which will send whoever is on the receiving end flying to far-far-awayistan. The stationary guns range from machine guns and snipers to mortars and the soon-to-be classic dubstep gun (there are bound to be youtube videos of that thing in action by now). Similarly, the mine is no longer the only thing to keep an eye out for in the environment as sentry guns will fire at you as soon as you enter their line of sight and vehicular mines will blow you to smithereens if you approach them while mounted, but will leave you alone if you’re simply squirming around.
There are also plenty of new weapons to try out. Far too many to list here. This is because the new crafting system allows you to create multiple hilarious version of each weapon, provided you have the crafting materials to do so. The uzi can, for example, be turned into a minigun or a ‘Luzi’, a rapid fire gun that fires laser bolts that bounce, and the Super Sheep can be turned into a Flatulent Super Sheep, which leaves a toxic cloud in its wake. The bazooka can become a sheep launcher and the holy hand grenade can become something called a ‘Stuffed Turkey Surprise’. All of these additions make for amazingly varied and interesting gameplay, although I must say that there appears to be a disconnect between the audiovisual effect of the weapons and the actual damage they do. Regardless, Worms remains the go-to game for any couch gameplay session in my house and WMD is a welcome addition to the collection. Team 17 have delivered a game that brings Worms gameplay into the modern age while aesthetically bringing it back to its roots. It’s everything that a diehard fan of the series could have hoped for.
And now, onto the bad. I’ve tried the game on two computers and it didn’t work flawlessly on either of them. I had looked forward to annihilating my friends in the game since I heard it was in development, and every time we’d played Clan Wars, he’d been next to me holding a controller while I donned the mouse and keyboard (the way Worms is meant to be played). When I launched the game, however, the controller wouldn’t respond to input. We played with the mouse and keyboard, but the fact that he was out of his element made my inevitable victory less satisfying. We decided to try the game out on my laptop instead, and the controller worked perfectly, but I never got my mouse cursor to show up, which made selecting menu items and weapons a bit of a hassle. It became especially vexing when trying to craft, select a weapon, and make a move in 30 seconds, which is the turn time in a ranked match. Speaking of turn times; why on earth is it no longer possible, in a local hot-seat game, to set the round time to infinite? From a programming point of view, it’s easy as pie, and you’d VASTLY expand the potential consumer base of your title.
Most of us who have followed the series from its infancy can accomplish great things in 90 seconds, but most of us have also reached the age where we have girlfriends, wives, parents and even children who we’d love to share our love of gaming with and who are now, with the universal cultural acceptance of gaming as a leisure activity, becoming interested in learning how to play. To them, just getting the worm to where they want it, learning the different jumps and getting used to controlling the worm in the air, is hard to accomplish in a minute and a half. Aiming and reading the distance when using the ninja rope, not to mention dropping weapons while hanging or with the rocket pack on their backs; simply learning how to move about will take them more than 90 seconds and having time run out every time without even getting to pick a weapon causes them nothing but frustration and makes them not want to play anymore. Please, for the love of gaming itself, let us set the turn time to infinite so we may share our love of this adorable, hilarious and absolutely frantic game with our loved ones. Playing Worms sends me back to my big brother’s house where we sat for hours playing game after game then I was just 10 years old. The game was a lot simpler back then, but regardless, it’s a feeling I would love to share with my wife and eventually experience with my son. Infinite round time would allow us to do that on a fair and equal basis.
Worms at its best with plethora of weapons. Varied gameplay. Excellent couch multiplayer.
Some input related bugs. No option to set infinite turn time.