Worms Reloaded: review

A game of true strategy and skill, it has dominated the tactical gamer’s mind a fair few times since its inception in the last millennium. Like a game of chess, it requires patience, timing and proficiency to truly master. And when it comes down to the penultimate stand off, a good strategist has to ask himself one question; holy hand grenade or concrete donkey?

The delightfully mad war in which Worms have been blowing each other up with various sizes of armament has been raging for 15 years now, with Team 17s first game in this legendary series released in 1995. Since then it has spawned many sequels and made the leap to 3D, but where is it going with Worms: Reloaded? To the rejoice of many, it’s back to basics, with the much loved 2D battlefields making a return.

On top of scaffolding isn't the best place to hide from airstrikes

It’s refreshing to see that the latest entry has gone back to the distinctive visual style of previous Worms titles, but with a new makeover to bring it up to date. This includes lively 3D backgrounds which give the environments just a touch more visual appeal and life whilst still sticking with that familiar feeling.

For those of you who have been living under a rock in a dark cavern on the moon and have no idea what Worms is, the concept is simple. Two to four teams of war mongering bird feed take it in turns to kill each other using a range of weapons. As well as blowing wet bits out of other worms, most ordinance also blasts chunks out of the world map, creating more strategic options and mayhem. The last team standing wins.

Simplicity is the beautiful thing that established the fantastic gameplay the series is best known for, meaning anyone can mess around for five minutes and be able to play competently. Controls are instantly familiar to anyone who has ever played a 2D worms game, with left and right cursors moving you from side to side, coupled with the up and down keys controlling your aim. Underneath the charming and approachable innocence however is a big ball of dough, ready to be moulded by cunning and sadistic minds to utterly annihilate opponents with a series of carefully lobbed grenades and bazooka shells. Certain weapons can be charged to give them range and power, allowing for some clever arcing shots, especially if you factor in wind speed and direction which can provide some very creative angles.

As with most of the scenery, aircraft in Worms are just there for decoration

The single player elements have never been a huge draw to the Worms galaxy, and Reloaded is no different in this respect. There is a selection of scenarios, campaign missions and instant action options available, which is probably a good place to start practising. Unfortunately the AI feels like a massive cheat, as the boggling complex computer brain is not prone to making trajectory or fall damage errors, always managing to punch you in the face with deadly efficiency. At times it really does feel like you are trying to win a thumb war with the Terminator.

Despite this there is a fair chunk of content that will teach you the basics of playing as well as a few advanced techniques. It can get really frustrating at times, and repetition does set in quickly as there is very little variation in the gameplay. It basically acts as a training ground for multiplayer and very little else. Once you have completed a stage, you aren’t going to want to revisit it, and some of the more hair pullingly frustrating levels may be enough to put you off the campaign for good, as well as give you a nasty case of bald and bloody scalp.

Multiplayer is the real reason to play Worms, like it always has been. It is where the real madness and anarchy brews. It comes in two flavours, network and local play. Network is the standard way of playing against the online community, but local is another place where Worms has always shone. Up to four players on one machine.

We can't see this ending well for Mouldy

It’s very much a case of pass the keyboard, but having a few people to huddle around the monitor is always fun, especially when you can laugh at how unfortunate that case of friendly fire hand grenade was, or how screwed your mate is with his single worm on 3hp. And then there’s the occasion when you find an Armageddon weapon and flood the screen with flaming meteorites, burning down the social bridges that you spent so long building with high fives, best wishes and rounds at the pub. It really is good fun.

Since Worms is such an established and loved series, a new entry was always going to be plagued with rose tinted glasses syndrome. Everyone is comparing it to Worms Armageddon and pointing out the things Reloaded is missing. There are no Old Ladies or Homing Pigeons for example. The Ninja Rope is also different in some small, hard to notice way which is causing a rift between new players and ‘old school ropers’, with other similar little niggles appearing to some, but floating over the heads of others. There are quite a few of the older, slightly more exotic weapons missing, but there are new additions that go a small way towards addressing this.

To sum it up, Worms: Reloaded is best played with your mates, can be enjoyed online, but is as fun as a soap sculpting if you intend to play it on your lonesome. Half of the fun is knowing that you are beating another person through carefully thought out use of hilarious weaponry. You know what you’re getting with this. It’s a new 2D Worms game, updated and tweaked for today, but with the same skeleton under the skin that made us love it in the first place.


7/10

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Written by Anthony H

Anthony has been playing games for far too much of his life, starting with the MS-DOS classic Mario is Missing. Since then his tastes have evolved to include just about anything, but his soft spot lies with shooters and the odd strategy game. Anthony will inspire you with his prose, uplift you with his wit and lie to you in his biography.

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