It was only a matter of time before we saw the natural progression of Worms moving onto the Arcade. The wait was long, but at last we have it in our grasp. But with a cap of 50 MB limiting the content, could the game still maintain its core elements of pure fun and the humour, or would the lack of weapons and speech banks ruin what Worms is known for?
Naturally, the game has both an experience for the lone gamer and the party gamer. Included in the single player experience is the training that you may well need, since Worms on consoles always takes some getting used to. There are also twenty challenges, which forces you to play through them one by one in order to unlock the next. Finally there is the quick match that simply launches you into a game with all the teams already set, and all you have to do is generate a landscape of your choice.
The tutorial introduces all of the controls, which will feel very foreign to you should you have migrated from the PC versions. The A button fires your weapon, X makes you jump (double tap to do a backflip), Y alters the delay time on a grenade, with B bringing up the weapons at your disposal. RT and LT zoom in and zoom out of the map, with the right stick swinging the camera across the map, allowing you to aim and plan your move, whilst the left stick moves your Worm, obviously. If you are not used to Worms on the console, expect to press A quite often, thinking you will jump when in actual fact you will blow yourself up with the Bazooka. Not funny in the middle of an online game.
After the tutorial, jumping into a Quick Match is a natural progression. The basic premise is simple: two teams, four Worms with 100 Hit Points and the sole objective to be the last man standing, by any means possible. At your disposable are a variety of weapons to reach your objective, ranging from a Grenade to a Banana Bomb to a stick of Dynamite to an Uzi. Each weapon naturally does a certain amount of damage depending on where you hit and how powerful the weapon is. You have a time limit for the game, and a limit on how long you can spend moving your Worm.
The game is a tactical one. Thanks to the limit on the weapons and the power of each, the game almost becomes a more interactive game of chess, where you must plan one step in advance each time. You control each Worm in order, no skipping from Worm to Worm in this version. Not only do you have to contend with the weapons your opponents are using, but you will also need to look about the map, because littering the landscape are mines and barrel drums. Mines are set off when a Worm gets too near, and barrels explode when shot at. There isn’t anything more annoying than calculating a shot so an enemy Worm lands on a mine, only for the mine to be dud. Trust me, it happens and is infuriating, especially when they hit back, but it adds to the game because you just never know, although it would have been nice if there was a mention that duds were included on the map.
Once the game is over, you can view several “Awards” handed out for the just-finished game, finding out who was the most accurate Worm, and who was the most useless. It counts for nothing, but is nice to view at the end of the game. After the Quick Match, Challenges provide a nice distraction where you must play against increasingly strong CPU teams. When there are two CPU teams, they all aim to get you and are working as a team. Quite sneaky since there is no mention that this happens. The main problem with the CPU though is that they take far too long to decide what to do. There is no excuse for them to have little bubbles coming out of their heads as they pretend to decide, it should just happen.
Multiplayer has always been the games strong point though, and it is here where you will spend most of your time with the game. If you’ve got four friends, then Local Multiplayer is available to you, allowing you to use as many controllers as you like (up to four) to control each team. If you only have one controller, just pass it around when necessary. Or you can head onto Xbox Live and play your not-so-local friends across the internet.
It is here where the first real problems are encountered. For whatever reason, when hosting a game, after everyone is ready and you hit start, the game will often freeze and lock up your 360. It doesn’t happen every time, but it certainly does happen. Once you get into the game, there is no lag whatsoever, which is a very good thing. There might be a couple of seconds delay between turns, but there is no slowdown during your turn. However the game is full of “quitters”, with people not wanting to lose when their last Worm is down to his final few Hit Points. This isn’t a problem with Worms so much as it is with online gaming, but nonetheless deserves a mention.
As the host, you can customise various things about the game such as what weapons you start with and how much ammo you include. Also variable is the round time and turn time. Or you can just use one of the presets available to you.
This all sounds great, but the game is by no means perfect. Graphics are crisp and look great in HD, and the sounds are your typical silliness, with the voices making you laugh. But with Microsoft lifting the limit on XBLA games just too late for Worms, the game suffers. There are only three backgrounds available which is a huge shame, and after around ten games you’ll feel the landscape is very similar too. It just doesn’t feel different enough.
Similarly with the voice bank. There are six different voices, two of which are French and French 2. Not being French, I hear little difference. Again it’s disappointing, but you have to again look at the limit and wonder why it was ever in place. Not many games have suffered from it before, but Worms certainly has.
The weapons are perhaps the biggest thing to suffer. The development team have said that they wanted to make the balance of play more even for newcomers, but seasoned veterans of the series will be disappointed at the lack of the Holy Hand Grenade, or the Baseball Bat, or the Old Woman and other such classic weapons. Yes they were stupidly powerful, but that’s what made the game so fun in the first place. also, when barrels explode on the map, you no longer have the napalm that used to be emitted, it is just a simple bang. One other issue is that the splash damage from a weapon doesn’t seem as good as it used to be. Quite often you may use an Airstrike, and they will hit all around one Worm but he won’t take any damage.
The limit of 50 MB does affect your enjoyment. If you are used to games where Super Sheep fly across the map, or where a Baseball bat sends Worms flying, then you will probably come away feeling slightly disappointed. Couple that with the lack of amusing voice banks, some of the humour is lost. The game is still fun and humourous, and Xbox Live play will definitely extend the attention it will get from you. Playing with friends is always best. If the game had more voices and more variety in the landscape options, I donâ€™t doubt that the humour would be extended. As it is, youâ€™ll enjoy playing the game, but you wonâ€™t be able to stop wondering what the game could have been without the 50 MB limit.
Final Score: 8 out of 10 - Good (How do we rate games?)