Worms holds a dear place in my heart. Back in 1999, Worms: Armageddon was the first online multiplayer game that I got fiercely competitive in, to the point that I joined a clan whose name I still remember to this day: Krazy Foos. Since then, Worms has tried to reinvent itself in many ways, with forays into various forms of 3D graphics, narrated stories and more, and Worms WMD brings its own twists to the formula.
Unlike more recent renditions of the Worms formula, we don’t get cameos from Matt Berry, Katherine Parkinson, or anyone from the British comedy scene. Instead we are taken back to Worm’s roots with a basic presentation that’s all about destruction and less about getting a little bit moist. Worms are shown in stylised 2D sprites as opposed to the 3D visuals you might have grown used to over the past few years.
As much as I like the game’s general art style, with its lovely painterly 2D artwork that has bags of character, I’m not a massive fan of how the worms look when they grin. There’s something rather peculiar about them, as if they took a leaf out of the British Book of Smiles.
Much like the other Worms games, the single player offering is somewhat limited. Training mode not only helps refresh knowledge on classic weapons such as Bazooka and Grenades, but also sheds light on how to use the vehicles and turrets. Missions pit your band of worms against AI controlled enemies, while bonus mode has a few missions deliberately designed to be as strange as possible.
Hidden in some of the campaign levels are wanted posters that will unlock challenges upon collection. These are how you unlock some of the custom skins for use on your own team, but wider customisation options are earned from completeing the main missions, unlocking more soundbanks, fanfares, victory dances, and gravestones.
So far, everything in Worms WMD is as before. This begs the question; is there anything that sets Worms WMD apart from the rest of the franchise? Plenty.
For starters, the levels now have indoor areas that stay concealed unless one of your own worms is inside. This adds to the complexity of a situation by hiding away parts of the battlefield and keeping you guessing as to where the enemy are. You don’t know if there are worms inside, or a bunch of mines and oil barrels. It’s a subtle change compared to the others, but one that proves its importance as the game progresses.
Worms also have access to turrets of varying types – machine guns, snipers, flame throwers, etc. – which give you more firepower, but can explode should the enemy fire enough shots at it. Then there are vehicles such as the Tank, Helicopter and Mech that provide more movement options and firepower to decimate the opposition, adding a more destructive edge to the proceedings. Nothing is quite as satisfying as thumping an enemy worm while piloting a Mech, or booting an enemy out of a vehicle when it’s your go and turning the tables on them.
The most important changes come from the weapons and crafting, though. All your favourites are back, from Bazookas to Holy Hand Grenades and the Concrete Donkey, but you can also set your worms to craft weapons – this can be done between turns when playing online – and flesh out your arsenal by grabbing the crafting supply crates that now drop periodically alongside the weapon and health crates. This means that every weapon can be upgraded to a more destructive version.
Aside from a fixed cap of five weapon slots and needing to find the resources required to make them, the possibilities feel nearly endless. I say nearly because the upgraded weapons tend to add elemental effects or damage radius more than anything else, though the likes of the Liberty Strike, featured in the All-Stars DLC, do add more flavour to the roster. Some new weapons such as the OMG Laser are as overkill as one would hope for, while others such as the Sheep on a Rope are amusing tools of mayhem. I still pine for the return of the French Sheep Strike though…
As we all know, Worms is best experienced when playing against friends. Local matches can be played with just one controller or keyboard configuration, meaning the requirement to entry is simply gathering friends into the same room. At this time, I was unable to test out online multiplayer, but there are a variety of different options for lobbies and even ranked matches. Online stability is something we shall have to see upon the game’s release where there are more players.
In contrast to recent games, Worms WMD feels more like the classic Worms titles with its explosive mayhem and tongue-in-cheek humour. Vehicles, turrets, and crafting all freshen up the formula somewhat, while the new 2D art direction mixed with the classic simplistic structure of Worms campaigns make for a welcome and familiar experience. Still, there’s not much out there quite like Worms and Worms WMD is a great rendition of that explosive madness.
Versions Tested: PC & PlayStation 4