It seems strange that a franchise only 15 years old has been accepted into gaming lore. If you’re ever speaking to someone about video games and want to know if they’re a real gamer or just a phoney, say the W word. If their eyes gloss over with a reminiscent sheen, you’ve found a gamer. I once lost an entire summer to the original Worms, as the sun beat its rays against the small Cornish farm-house, two adolescents were holed up in a dank teenage bedroom. The curtains were drawn, the air could’ve killed a dozen canaries but that didn’t matter, for we had Worms. We had transcended the normal play style, we would each construct huge forts of girders on either side of the level, intricate systems of defence mechanisms to deflect grenades away from the precious core. I don’t feel bad for spending 6 weeks indoors, admittedly the rickets were a bit of a pain but fortunately flares were back en-vogue anyway!
But don’t fret if you feel bad for missing out the first time around, as the mighty Team 17 have brought it all back with Worms: Reloaded. All the old destructive fun reskinned for the 21st century with modern futures such as HD graphics, an achievement system and up to 4 player online multiplayer.
Team 17 have always been keen to make their games fun. This game is very much based on the 2009 Xbox arcade release of Worms: Armageddon, but has some special surprises for the PC faithful. The cartoon visuals are back looking fantastic in HD. All of the levels are set around dozens of different themes including sport, medieval, London, winter and too many more to mention. Apart from the animated themed background, each level is detailed with appropriate hidey-holes, for example you can cower behind a jolly snowman on the winter levels. Accompanying the level themes are costumes and items to deck out your worms in say a bowler hat or an afro. To further anthropamorthise you worms you can select a host of different comedic voices.
To the crux of the game, the weaponry. Those familiar to Worms fondly remember the zany weapons at your disposal. I am pleased to inform that the crazy weapons are not in short supply. If I wrote about each of them it wouldn’t do them justice. So, here’s a wee video! Please note, I’ve only showcased a few weapons here, I really don’t want to ruin the surprise.
Getting back into Worms was like slipping back into an old pair of comfy jeans. Although my skills were rusty all the controls and physics were instantly familiar. Before long I was sending bazooka shots the entire width of the map, gracefully arcing in the wind. As I progressed through the 35 campaign missions the difficulty ramped up sufficiently to satisfy the most hardcore players. Variety is introduced by adjusting your weapon sets to force you to play differently or by stacking the odds against you by pitting your one worm against 7 enemies.
Towards the end the thing that really stuck in my craw was the shots the AI could pull off. Bouncing a grenade off 10 surfaces before it gently comes to rest by your worm can really start to grate. I can understand the need to make the challenge difficult, but your efforts to protect yourself are effortlessly circumvented by an implausible grenade shot. It sometimes feels the AI and the game itself is fighting against you. Here’s a quick video showing some of the unlikely (but fantastic) shots.
So all in all Worms: Reloaded delivers on all fronts. The basic and addictive concept still remains, sprinkled with that iconic Team 17 humour. It is a complete and comprehensive example of what made the original game addictive 15 years ago. I would recommend this game to fans of old and players wanting to see what all the fuss is about. The only pang of doubt I’ve felt about this game is the feeling it hasn’t really moved on. Although the modern trimmings of HD and online have been successfully implemented, the core concept of the game remains the same. One wonders if the fingers of Team 17 are still burning from their experimentation of the core concept with Worms 3D. Or maybe the Worms idea has already been refined down to its purest form. Either way Worms: Reloaded may be hamstrung for its lack of variety for long-term play. However the fact still remains, Worms is a fantastic game for young and old. I suggest you wriggle your way to Steam and pick it up!
MLG Rating: 8/10
Platform: PC (Mac) Release Date: 26/08/2010
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Worms: Reloaded for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of seven days on a gaming PC. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.