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If you’re at all interested in the realms of Indie game development, there is one name that stands head and shoulders above the crowd – Team 17. And while they have worked on many great titles, including Alien Breed & Superfrog, their best known game still remains Worms.
What started as a competition entry for a programming competition run by Amiga Format, eventually became a franchise as iconic in the gaming industry as Mario or Halo. First released in 1995, the game was an instant success and spawned a series of follow-ups and different platform releases.
Now over 20 years old, its latest incarnation has recently been released and bought the game back to its 2D roots. So, like me, is this game starting to show the ravages of time, or has it matured like a good whiskey?
To start with I decided to take a look into the single-player side of the game. I know, Worms has never been about single-player, but it has one so it needs to be looked at. Aside from the obvious Quick and Custom battle modes that set you against AI controlled teams, there is also a campaign mode.
Campaign mode sees you take a team through a set of challenges, ranging from deathmatch battles to racing from one side of the map to the other using jetpacks or ninja ropes. There are even some funny puzzles, which require you having to kill your worms in order to solve them. All of these are fairly enjoyable, but the main reason people will want to play through the campaign is the fact that completing each of the challenges reward coins for completion. These coins can be used later in the game’s shop to purchase new customisation options, but I’ll get to that later.
Alongside the campaign are Warzone and Bodycount modes. Warzone pits your team against increasingly difficult enemy teams in each match, and toward the end can be truly challenging. However, Bodycount really stands out as something different. In this mode you will start the game with a single worm with a single objective – stay alive as long as you can and kill anything else that moves.
To start with the enemy worms will be fairly weak and extremely dumb, but each time you kill one another will appear to replace it. At regular intervals the health and AI of the spawning worms will be increased. In order to keep you fighting there will be regular health and weapon drops to replace what you have lost, but as the game progresses you will find yourself short on weapons and health, no matter how good you are.
To be honest there is only one failing with the single player side of things, and its one that dates all the way back to the very early generations of the game, the AI. Sure it has a selection of different AI modes to select from, but like in all worms games that have come before, the AI will either be completely retarded or insanely difficult. While watching the dumb ones blow most of their own team up for you is entertaining, it does not balance out the frustration of having the Stephen Hawkins of the worm world bounce a grenade off 6 surfaces to land right on your head as it explodes.
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However there is another thing that dates back to the original games that I’m glad to see has been maintained, and that is the quirky visual style and brilliant sound effects. I don’t know a single person that has played worms that will not, at some point in their life, throw something to you and yell “INCOMING!!” in a squeaky voice All the teams that are included have their own style as always, but it’s the creation of your own team and its style that has always been the most fun.
Everything from the hats your team wears, the graves they leave behind & even your worm colour can be tweaked. Some of these options have to be purchased from the shop that I mentioned earlier. Nothing in the shop is game altering though, and you can play a perfectly fine game without ever buying any of these items, it’s just a fun way to thank the players that played through the campaign.
Other than customising your team, you can also make custom game modes, so if you want play a game that only involves ninja ropes and the holy hand grenade, so be it.