I’m just going to lay my cards on the table, so that we can both get on with our lives and you can get to playing Worms W.M.D. If you’re a long-time fan, still waiting for a game that finally tops, or is at least as good as Amageddon. It’s here. Worms W.M.D is that game. It retains the spirit of the series golden age, while adding a few unique twists of its own that change up the gameplay in fresh ways that, for the first time in a very long time, feel like a logical progression, instead of just innovation for innovation’s sake. What’s more if you don’t like any of the new stuff you can just turn it all off and it plays (pretty much) like a remake of Worms 2/ Armageddon.
The most instantly noticeable change in Worms W.M.D is the introduction of vehicles. These come in three flavours; tanks, helicopters and mechs. They’re all liberally scattered throughout most maps and provide a substantial amount of firepower, as well as a good level of protection to any worm lucky enough to jump into them. Despite this they are still quite well balanced. The helicopter is able to fly a worm to practically any part of the map in a single turn, while raining machine gun fire down on the poor buggers bellow. Thankfully, aiming the machine gun accurately is incredibly tricky, making it more “spray and pray” than “death from above!” Still if someone manages to hit a barrel or two its capable of creating some serious mayhem. Meanwhile the heavily armoured mech stomps around the battlefield, using its jet thrusters to glide across larger gaps and slamming its fists againt the ground to create large amounts of damage to any worm caught in it’s blast radius. It’s fairly slow, well protected, but ultimately has a very limited range. Finally there’s the tank, an utter bastard ‘which is heavily armoured, surprisingly manoeuvrable (it can jump) and with a bloody great cannon on the front that causes all kinds of damage. If you get into one of these things you’re pretty much onto a winner.
The only real downside to any of the vehicles is that if your opponent manages to destroy them, and you’re still inside, it hurts. A lot.
Along with vehicles, worms can also use sentry guns that pop up in various positions and include the likes of laser guided sniper rifles, mortars and flamethrowers. They’re a nice addition and a fun little set piece in the single player missions.
Weapons can now be crafted via a new ‘crafting tab’ in the weapons menu with materials gained via crates or by dismantling other weapons. If you’ve ever thought to yourself what the super sheep really needs is the ability to flatulently poison everything it flies past, or that the concrete donkey would be great if it could spew fire while it ploughed its way through half the stage, you can now make those dreams a reality. You simply open crafting tab and build it. My only minor quibble I have with the crafting is that during local multiplayer games you can only craft during your turn, while in all other modes you can open up the menu and builld whenever you like. This takes time away from the important business of creating as much chaos as you can.
The most subtle addition, but ultimately the one with the most impact strategically is the ability for worms to now take cover inside buildings. Various parts of the environment, like skyscrapers,hotdog trucks and even an old man style pub can be slithered into by your squad. This provides a great deal of cover, as they literally need to be blown up before your worm is damaged (like the old tactic to drill into the scenery and girder over the exit). In another twist the worm no longer can be seen by the other team during their turn. So now not only do you have to think of the best way to eliminate the competition, but you also have to remember where they are.
There’s plenty to do both online and offline, with a whole host of campaign missions, challenges, and then bonus missions to unlock on top of that. Meanwhile both local and online multiplayer make a return. Every aspect of multiplayer can also be customised from which weapons are available, to turn times, the frequency of crate drops (and what’s inside them) and how many vehicles/barrels/mines you want littering the landscape.
You can also customise your worms with all manner of funny hats, silly voices, and even choose their gravestone and fanfare (which includes every national anthem I can think of, even the Welsh one!) One thing of note though is that the classes seen in Worms Revolution and Clan Wars are gone, there are now only one type of worm again in keeping with the games more classic Worms tone. It also looks and sounds just like you remember ( well as much as it can through rose coloured specs anyway) Worms W.M.D returns to the classic, hand-drawn styleof the early titles and looks all the better for it, with beautifully rendered maps and the Worms looking equal parts mischievous and adorable. The booms, blasts and wind up noises are also all classic Worms and hearing the little guys yelling “INCOMING!” as a bazooka shell finds it’s mark remains just as satisfying as it did over twenty years ago.
From the few online matches we played, the netcode is stable and we had no problems either connecting, or maintaining a connection during play. On the whole it was a rather smooth experience, and the games new tweaks such as building and crafting really do help to add an element of the unknown to online encounters as you never quite know what your opponent is going to come up with next.
Worms W.M.D is a superb addition to the long running franchise and easily the best game in the series since Armageddon. The game’s new additions, work well and not only look cool, but help to evolve the game’s strategic elements in interesting ways that enhance the gameplay, instead of merely innovation for innovations sake.If you’re a long running fan tempted to get back into the series, or have always wondered what all the fuss is about Worms W.M.D is the perfect place to start.