- Format: PC (version reviewed), PS4, Xbox One, Mac
- Unleashed: 23rd August 2016
- Publisher: Team 17
- Developer: Team 17
- Players: 1-6
- Site: http://www.team17.com/games/worms-wmd/
- Game code provided by the publisher
If you read our preview then you might find it unsurprising that Worms W.M.D is pretty darn good. It’s not reinventing the wheel, and the additions they’ve made to the Worms formula – vehicles, mounted guns, crafting and buildings – fit in quite nicely without bludgeoning you with them as a necessity. That said, if you don’t take advantage of them, you’re missing a trick.
It’s hard to mess up the core Worms loop; move your worm, shoot at an enemy worm (probably miss), they take their turn, repeat until one/no teams are left alive. It’s also a struggle to improve on that core formula as past Worms games always have a new gimmick: 3D, forts, worm classes, and a few other weird ideas that never made it to the next game. In W.M.D, Team 17 seems to have found something well worth keeping for the next iteration – buildings. The other new stuff is good but the buildings are excellent.
In 3D Worms there has always been the ability to hide worms behind walls, but with 2D it’s never really come into play until now. Buildings are deceptive in a few ways. While you can hide in them, some have windows or other openings that let you peek inside and over the course of a match it’ll slowly gain man-made (worm-made) windows as it slowly gets blown to pieces by incoming weaponry. Their contents aren’t only hidden but they have randomly shaped pathways that add to the unknown; and since information is vital in battle, hidden worms, traps and treasures make for really interesting play.
This is showcased more in the single player campaign. With each of the levels being handcrafted rather than generated, occupy-able buildings aren’t always apparent until you accidentally open fire on one and it sets off a sprawling chain reaction that ends up cruelly cutting short the life of the occupants and leaving you bereft of whatever tools or weaponry were hidden in there. In multiplayer, it is a different beast as the random generation leaves the buildings more pronounced against the landscape. It’s the single best new feature and allows so many new avenues of attack; all derived from uncertainty and the unknown quantities it may or may not contain.
Crafting is also a great new feature, mostly because it can be used as a time-killer when opponents are having their turn. If you’re good and have the materials you can craft on everyone else’s turn as well as your own, so you can gain a plethora of weaponry by the time it’s your next go. In practice however it usually means you get to make maybe one interesting weapon and a handful of the usual suspects.
Having four different resources to find means you are almost always out of the two uncommon ones and thus have to make do with the less unique weaponry. It also means that when you do have the resources for one of these new things, you’re less interested in making anything but the best of this new weaponry. After all, a sheep-on-a-rope is fun but not as practical as a super sheep, so you’re more likely to build that instead.
The vehicles and mounted guns are neat as well but not as exciting or interesting as the other new additions – apart from the mounted flamethrower of course, because raining flames down on your foes is satisfying beyond belief. Of all the uses the vehicles have, none is more useful than traversing the landscape. It’s the fastest and safest way around as they can all jump; yes, even the tank can jump. Like all the weaponry, they are situational but unfortunately a fair portion of the time we were better off using standard weapons and using the vehicle as an escape route or as a bunker of sorts.
It is a really, really good Worms game and the gripes we have with it aren’t deal breakers but they’re worth mentioning. As always the AI is good but they don’t seem to know how to use the vehicles at all. They might jump into it for a safe place or to boot you out before attacking you, but they don’t seem to use them, even if they’re in them from the beginning of their turn. Another small point is that the hidden challenges are more like the Pro Training levels and make you get creative or help you learn what you can do with weapons. This makes it a little disappointing that they’re all hidden away when they’re such an important learning tool.
While the new art style fits the purpose of making the worms visible against the landscape, their new makeover isn’t something we like that much. They look out of place in the game but also the animations in general look slightly off with these new designs. It really comes into play more with the little actions they do, like the victory dances, idle animations and even the screams they make when they’re about to come face to face with something explosive. Actions like the robot or young man dances just aren’t recognisable without the names and just look weird. They don’t look as expressive as the Worms that have come before them and it’s probably something to do with the eyes.
If you’re a long time Worms fan then all you need to know is that it plays really well. The campaign is good but not Armageddon good and the multiplayer is multiplayer Worms, so you’ll have fun with it regardless. The art style isn’t to our taste and we do miss the little screams that Worms made just before being blasted by weaponry; but that’s a minor issue when it comes to Worms. We still ended up laughing or shouting at the game when we somehow managed to fudge up a jump and land directly on top of a mine, and that is what matters most.