Worms are backs! Having appeared on over 25 platforms since it’s debut in 1995, the iconic warring Oligochaetas finally wriggle their way onto the next-gen consoles. Legendary British developer Team17 went back to the drawing board and took the game apart and expanded every aspect tenfold before putting it back together again but did they do too much? Is it even possible to make a bad Worms game?
First thing you’ll notice is the narration by Lady Pinkle, voiced by the fantastic Katherine Parkinson of The IT Crowd fame. Lady Pinkle pretty much talks all the way through the game, be it single player, versus, online or even the settings. Not that I mind because she is simply brilliant. Her dry and tongue-in-cheek delivery not only serves as a useful guide but is a constant source of chuckles and amusement. Lady Pinkle or you can call her Lady Pinkle also lays out the story behind the single player campaign. Whilst in it’s most simple form is just a series of increasingly difficult challenges, having a plot as comical as this certainly gives it some depth and I found it being engrossed by it – a first for any Worms game!
The baddie of the story is a worm called Mesmer and he is on the hunt for the precious Stone Carrot, which would enhance his already powerful hypnotic powers and help him enslave the entire species. There is only one thing that can resist Mesmer’s powers and ultimately stop him – the Golden Child! Lady Pinkle charges you with the mission of finding the Golden Child and put a an end to Mesmer and his evil plans. All this takes in the Museum of World History, players can expect to bazooka and sheep bomb their way through the Inca, Viking, Feudal Japan, Industrial Revolution and Prehistoric sections of the museum.
As you’d expect the core gameplay hasn’t changed much since the mid nighties and neither should it because it’s still wonderfully simple. Your left analogue stick controls your worm and the right controls the camera. Square is jump, double tapping will give an athlete flip. Circle brings up your arsenal and use X to select your weapon of choice. Depending on what’s selected for example a projectile weapon you can control it’s direction or trajectory using the left stick. When you are happy with your aiming, simply hit X again and carnage usually follows. The objective is usually to wipe out everything that crawls onscreen. There are more weapons than ever in Battlegrounds and they are as silly as you’d expect. Series stalwarts such as the sheep bomb, holy hand grenade and the destructive concrete donkey have never looked better and there are 10 more brand new utilities and weapons to collect such as the Teleport Gun, Winged Monkey or the hilarious Whoopsie Cushion. The titular heroes have also had an upgrade. There has never been a greater variety of worms to blow up and not just with different accents or hats this time. We have big burly worms with attributes of a tank or we have the small and fast scouts who don’t trigger mines. Before a worm takes it’s turn it gets a little introduction that shows it’s well being. You can see these worms banged up, bandaged or even green with sickness – I particularly liked this aspect. The DualShock 4’s light bar also reflects your worm’s health. A really useful feature is assigning four weapons to the DualShock 4’s touch pad for quick selecting.
Of course the biggest draw of any Worms game is taking on your friends and in Battlegrounds you can do this locally or online. Create your own team with over 200 individual customisation items, each with their own accents or tombstones and lead them to glory on the leaderboards. This is as addictive as ever, the old magic still works. Mixing humour with strategy and being precise and deadly with your weapons but at the same time hoping for a bit of luck from random gusts of wind or stepping on a dud mine and of course everyone scramming for the health pack or weapon drop containing Airstrike but instead getting another Baseball Bat! Worms is still the ultimate party game, causing arguments and sulks across the land. Playing online is as smooth experience as you can hope for, I haven’t had a dropped game or lag yet. The level editor is also back so you can create a match exactly to your liking – your own landscape with it’s own rules and weapons.
It’s hard to criticise a Worms game, they have burrowed their way into my heart decades ago. I guess I only have one minor niggle. The variety of landscapes is great but I wanted the developer to take advantage of the PS4’s grunt and give them a bit more detail as it looks a little flat. There is a slight parallax effect when you move your worms across them but I just feel feel they could’ve done more. The score is as catchy as ever building tensions during matches and I’m still humming the reworked theme tune – I want it on my phone!
Worms Battlegrounds’ debut on the new consoles is a good one. It still has that addictive nature and it’s as funny as ever but with all the new features and looks, the game feels rejuvenated and fresh. I have no doubt it’ll once again pull in all the old fans like me but also bring in a new generation of gamers. Battlegrounds is simply the best Worms yet. Now go away! I need to concentrate flying my Super Sheep!
I’d like to thank Bethany Aston at Team17 for the very generous review code.