The squishy little soldiers are about to return, but will it be a triumphant comeback?
In an age of nostalgia, reboots are becoming dull and unimaginative. It seems that every medium is now relying on consumers wanting to relive the glory days. Team 17 have jumped on this bandwagon with a new Worms game that comes in the classic 2D style, but to its credit it doesn't feel forced, or dull. Worms WMD is a whole new game that plays homage to the old titles and still feels fresh. So what did the kind folk at Team 17 do right?
The core game is the great Worms formula that many of us remember from the days of Armageddon; a simple turn-based battle game on wonky destructible terrain, with a handful of various weapons. The developers have removed the 3D styling that has been around over the past few years and has replaced it with a simple 2D art style. They've also lost some of the "tropes" brought in for Worms Battlegrounds, such as classes and water physics. These changes strip the game right back to basics. The new style really fits beautifully: it's simple and clear. The worms stand out very clearly against a variety of stunning backdrops and themes. The environment also has this beat to it, with certain parts of the terrain constantly bobbing along, adding to this almost childish art style. Dropping the 3D style was needed and, simply put, it fits the 2D gameplay so much better.
All of the classic weapons and mechanics are still in the game. Ninja ropes, bazookas and Holy Hand Grenades are still part of the vast armoury. Players can still use wind speeds as a tactical advantage. This mechanic works beautifully, so be prepared for backwards bazooka shots from enemy worms. The movement is, again, still just the same, in the classic Worms style that has you slither across the terrain and backflip onto slightly raised platforms.
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The one liners and hilarious jokes made by the worms are ever present, providing quips and digs towards the enemy and players. Along with this some of the team names have got better, a personal favourite of ours was Team Gav, consisting of some classic nicknames such as "G-Dog", "Gav" and "Gavin' A Laugh." It's not highbrow, but we still laughed.
New mechanics are brought in despite the classic feel of the game. These include turrets, crafting, buildings and vehicles. The biggest addition really seems to be the vehicles, but what caught our attention was the seamless addition of buildings in the terrain. These structures provide extra cover and allow you to plan sneaky tactics without having to make your own makeshift bunker. They fit in with whatever theme you have picked for the map, making the game more interesting by literary adding extra levels.
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The vehicals and turrets really are the big addition too, with Team 17 adding new mechanics such as tanks and helicopters that will obliterate your opponents once you get the firing angle just right. Not only that but they will tear up terrain. However, spawn rate does make them seem too easily accessible, but this setting you may be able to adjust at full release. The turrets are fixed guns, such as mortars or snipers, but these can be destroyed rather easily. We feel this is a nice balanced mechanic that works well with the classic formula. They're a touch overpowered perhaps, but their brittle structure means one good shot with a trusty bazooka destroys them for good.
Crafting is something that seems to be in all games now, and just like many others it feels a little out of place here. It's a simple system in Worms, but it takes way too long. The idea is you pick up parts from falling crates to mod your weapons, creating flaming bazookas or extra powered land mines. It feels like a bolted on mechanic that doesn't add all that much to the game. We played a few matches before even realising that it was there, and after that we found it to be too fiddly and long winded for a local co-op game. You can craft during your opponent's turn when playing online, but whether this will make a substantial difference to the gameplay remains to be seen.
The classic worms formula is back and that's the main focus of WMD, and it's exactly this that makes the next entry in this beloved franchise so good. There aren't too many gimmicks and the core gameplay is strong. It's got enough of the old stuff that we love, with plenty of new mechanics and artwork to keep it feeling fresh. We'll have to wait till release on August 23 to see what level of customisation we get in terms of gameplay, but the base seems solid. It's looking like it's going to be a great way to get back into the series and have fun blowing stuff up.