This latest entry in the long-running Worms series tries to inject some variation into the mix with the introduction of some high-powered vehicles and a crafting system. But, is that enough to differentiate it from previous games?
The Worms series hasn't changed much over the years. Apart from the occasional 3D departure, developer Team17 has usually kept to the classic formula that's been working ever since the first game hit the shelves in 1995. W.M.D continues this trend, sticking with the trademark 2D gameplay, playful sense of humour and colourful visuals that continue to keep it so popular.
To its credit, Worms W.M.D does make an effort to bring some significant new elements to proceedings. The main one is the addition of a roster of three vehicles: a tank, helicopter and mech suit. These are usually found lying around the battlefield and can be commandeered by any team. Each has different strengths and weaknesses. The helicopter's machine gun doesn't do a lot of damage, but its speed and mobility make it handy for getting around the map quickly. The tank is cumbersome but it can inflict a lot more destruction, firing off up to six shells during each turn. The mech has the best of both worlds. It has a ground-pound attack that does up to fifty damage and can send a worm flying across the screen if positioned correctly. It's also outfitted with a jetpack that lets you jump over large gaps and hover to hard-to-reach places, though it's not as mobile as the chopper.
As well as the vehicles, W.M.D also features a range of stationary turrets for causing even more mayhem such as sniper rifles, flame-throwers and mortars. To help defend against this onslaught, you can now take cover in buildings. This has the added bonus of hiding your worms from your opponents who can only see their positions if they follow them inside. You can also use the vehicles as a form of protection. You still take damage, but it's greatly reduced and they all take a fair bit of battering before they're wrecked.
Aside from the new munitions, the other major addition in W.M.D is the introduction of a crafting system. You're able to pick up ingredients in crates and combine them to make new weapons including some extra powerful ones that can only be attained through crafting. You can craft while your opponent is taking his turn with your resulting weapon being available at the beginning of your next go. I was a little cynical of this feature at first, assuming it had just been tacked on because every game seemingly needs a crafting system nowadays, but it actually does add an extra layer of strategy. Furthermore, it gives you something to do during other players' turns, which in previous games were usually just boring periods of downtime.
Worms W.M.D offers a good amount of content in its single player component. There are thirty campaign missions, ten challenge missions and twenty practice levels. The missions all have three optional "sub goals" to complete, too, such as finishing the stage without losing any worms, which gives you a legitimate reason to play them several times over. The missions start off very easy but get tricky towards the end as you're usually given just one or two worms to fight eight or nine computer-controlled enemies. To play the challenge levels, you'll have to find hidden wanted posters scattered throughout the campaign. These challenges are more like puzzles in which you have to figure out how to kill a boss with very limited supplies. They make for a nice break from the campaign levels because they're much shorter and play very differently with some of them requiring a lot of brainpower to solve. Even the practice levels give you an incentive to replay them as there's a trophy for getting gold medal times on each one.
There's a good selection of customisation options that you can unlock. Beating missions gives you XP, allowing you to level up and gain access to more cosmetic items such as outfits and voice packs. Some of the voice packs are particularly amusing (such as the Bear Grylls tribute) although they tend to repeat a little too much on the practice levels. The AI can get on your nerves a bit as well. They often take a long time messing around during their turns, swapping out weapons needlessly or shuffling back and forth for no reason. Their combat prowess is also rather erratic. They skip their turns way too often and frequently shoot straight into walls or their own teammates. At other times, they'll be ridiculously good, hitting you with a bazooka shot against the wind from the other side of the map, though thankfully this happens far less often than in previous games.
W.M.D also comes with several multiplayer modes, both local and online. Custom games can be configured to accommodate up to six players with up to eight worms on each team. There's also a ranked 1v1 mode with preset weapon settings and turn times. Battles take place on randomly generated landscapes across six different themed worlds from the English countryside to the American Wild West. Playing against human opponents naturally offers a different type of challenge, but there's nothing here that hasn't been done in other recent iterations in the series.
W.M.D manages to add some interesting new aspects to the classic Worms gameplay, but it still feels almost identical to previous installments. It's a great place to start if you're new to the series, but if you own one or two of the more recent games already, you won't find a lot new here.
- + Good variety of solo levels and challenges
- + Vehicles make getting around maps easier
- + Crafting gives you something to do during other players' turns
- - Doesn't do much to differentiate it from other Worms games
- - Dumb enemy AI
- - Occasional frame rate issues