Long-awaited return imminent!
- K7

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Worms: Reloaded

It took Team 17 a decade to get out of their 3D/Console phase in regards to Worms, but we finally have a return to the Golden Days with Worms: Reloaded! Can the English developers reclaim the former glory of Worms 2 and Armageddon? We shall find out in today's review!


Title: Worms: Reloaded
Publisher: Team 17
Developer: Team 17
Genre: Strategy
Rating: E (10+)
Systems: PC

After years of waiting, console-only titles, and forays into 3D, Team 17 has finally brought a PC title that hearkens back to the days of Worms 2 and Worms Armageddon. Reloaded has come about to revitalize a series that has fallen on hard times due to a streak of failed games by going back to the style that made Worms famous; 2D battlefields that pit squads of worms against each other. With their comically themed weapons and exotic stages, Worms: Reloaded attempts to re-ignite a spark in the franchise.

The game offers a plethora of provided game modes, as well as the ability to create your own styles of play. Many game modes that were only available via a custom setting in previous games are officially provided for you, such as the immensely popular Rope Race and Fort game modes. The stage creation tool has also been immensely improved, as the player has free realm to design the shape of the landscape, the hazards found there, the initial water level, and the overall atmosphere of the stage itself. The team creation is still as fun as ever, but now PC gamers get to utilize the addition of team hats. Previously, this was only found in the console versions of Worms that were available for download on the Playstation Network or Xbox Live Arcade. While there is no real storyline to the game other than that the worms really don’t like each other, the campaign mode offers a series of tough predicaments and situations that the player will need to overcome. Victories in the Campaign and Training will result in your profile earning money, which is then used in the shop to buy various additions to either your team, such as new hats, weapons, or gravestones, or the game itself, such as landscapes or bonus campaign challenges. There are also a few new game modes that have not been seen on the PC versions before, such as the new Bodycount Mode, where you are one worm facing off against an endless stream of respawning enemies.

However, while it is still a rather fun game that will provide hours of fun for fans of the series, there are still a few elements that make it fall short of the luminosity achieved by the older games of the series. These may seem a bit nitpicky, but as a fan of the series, and someone who played Armageddon almost religiously, they are a few glaring issues found thus far in the new installment’s existence. The first major issue is the selection of weapons. While Reloaded provides a plethora of weapons from the past games of the series, they seem to lack the sheer explosive fun found in Armageddon. The created teams no longer have team-specific special weapons, and each team is only limited to a max of four worms per team. In previous games, when it comes to online play, there was an 8 player limit per team.

Speaking of multiplayer, there are a few glaring issues found here as well. For one, while previous games allowed a max of 8 players per game, Reloaded only allows four teams per match… with only four team colors to choose from. While a minor issue, and from a technical standpoint it could be considered a positive due to the fewer players causing less system stress and thus less lag, it does seem like a small step backwards in that aspect. The multiplayer is also now fully provided as a game mode itself, rather than having to access the WormNet of the past. This, while improving over time, is still a bit of a mess. There is still a major issue as to how things are separated, such as how if you want to start a private game with friends, there is no possible way to fill the party with random people. The same thing happens in the other way around, where the search function only applies to random pick-up games. Just recently they added the ability for custom game formats to be played across the online multiplayer, so it is somewhat reassuring that they are actively trying to fix most of the issues at hand. But, it is still a negative for the time being.

As the years passed, the Worms franchise also has seen their rating fall from M for Mature, to E for Everyone, and as such, many elements end up being tossed to the wayside in favor of a more kid-friendly atmosphere. This isn’t necessarily a be-all end-all deathknell for fans of the games of the past, as the game still is quite fun, but as such, elements have been removed. The exploding Old Ladies from Armageddon and the optional Blood Mode has been removed and replaced with even more emphasis on its cartoony feel. Many weapons have been replaced or simply removed from the game entirely, such as the aforementioned Old Lady, or how the Mad Cow weapon is now called the Buffalo of Lies. Still the same effect… but just something that is noticeable from a fan of the older games.

Overall, while the game may not reach the glory that they had in the past, it is still quite fun. Something about cartoon worms nuking each other to high hell over and over again just doesn’t seem to get old. There is still room for improvement, but compared to the 3D versions and the console versions, Worms: Reloaded is definitely a step in the right direction. The game is still very fun to play, and while there are still a few glaring omissions and menu interface issues, it will still provide hours of enjoyment for fans of the series, as well as newcomers to the Worms franchise.


Now for some numbers.

Storyline: N/A – There is, well, no storyline here. However, I am not docking any points, as it is not trying to tell one either. It’s a squad of worms trying to kill another squad of worms. It would be like docking points from a game like Scorch or Minesweeper for not having a story to follow. So, a different category will be used instead.

Flexibility, Functionality, & Extras: 8.25/10 – Being there is no storyline, nor is there an attempt to tell a story, this category will go into how well the game gets the job done, how many extra things it can do, how well it adheres to different playing styles, and whether or not it goes above and beyond in these areas. Overall, it does get the job done. You are a squad of worms, and your task is to wipe the other squads off the face of the Earth. It is simple, and you have enough weapons to get it done in a variety of ways. In fact, there are game modes which require different winning conditions. However, there are really no extras aside from what is found in the store, and a small list of achievements. While the other games had features which required you to do something special to unlock them, Reloaded only requires the player to play the game a lot. Also, with the multiplayer and menu bugs and issues, it does put a little damper on what is an otherwise fun, simple game which is easy to play, but tough to master.

Graphics: 9/10 – After failing horribly with their excursions into full 3D worlds, Team 17 appears to have listened to the demands of the fan base. They brought the levels back to a simple, yet colorful 2D playing field, while upgrading the backgrounds to a rather beautiful 3D. This is exactly what they should have done way back after their Worms World Party, and with the tech available, they definitely did not disappoint. The playing field is 2D, and the backgrounds, while not an artistic euphoria, are still nice to look at. The formula works, and it looks like they finally realized how to do it right.

Controls: 7/10 – The controls are, for the most part, easy enough to control. You move the little worm around, and determine the angle of the shots using the arrow keys. Weapon select and camera view is done with the mouse. Jumping is done with the enter key, or the backspace key depending on the number of taps in succession (1 for normal jump, 2 for a back flip). However, having played the previous games, they seem to have removed a simple, yet vastly important jump; the straight up jump and the small back hop. Not sure why these would not be included, as they were done with the backspace key and the enter key, and the tap combinations of each. These two keys are still used, but they cause identical jumps, so they ended up removing simple elements. So, I cannot give full points. Also, there are still some glitchy issues with the scenery permeability, as well as the click detection on some menus.

Sound & Music: 8/10 – Simple background music for simple purposes. It doesn’t play a major role during the battle, other than set the tone for the stage. So, it serves the purpose well in that aspect. It doesn’t go above and beyond, nor is it truly lacking sans one area, the title screen. The title screen has the same type of music as is found in the stage backgrounds, which really isn’t acceptable. Even more so considering the Worms games of the past, specifically Armageddon, had an absolutely fantastic techno beat theme of some sort (Armageddon even had a small story inside it. Look it up sometime. It’s worth it). However, this is somewhat negated by a little Easter Egg. Going into the Credits screen… they had the old Armageddon Theme playing, which quite possibly makes it one of the best credits screens ever. But, it also makes me wonder why they have a kick ass song in the background of the credits, but failed to do really anything for the title screen. So, negative for title theme, neutral for credits, big plus for nostalgia.

Replayability: 9.5/10 – This is where this game shines. With the store to buy additional elements to the game, the ability to create not only human teams, but computer teams as well, stage creator, online multiplayer, and the exponential amount of available voices and features for created teams, I find myself wasting hours playing this game just out of sheer fun. The number of available weapons, and the comedic reactions and explosions make this a fun game to play alone, or with a group of friends in house, or online.

Overall: 41.75/50 : 83.25/100 : B
Recommendation: It is a simple, yet addictingly fun game, but the small issues that were covered here may cause some people to go nuts. Otherwise, it is a decent game to pickup, and for the $20 price tag, it is worth a look. It is also really the only good, and recent, Worms game available on the PC. Fans of the old series may feel somewhat lacking, but it get’s the job done.

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