Ah yes, Worms. I can recall evenings when I was a child playing Worms on my PC against random people online via a 56k connection, getting completely massacred, and thinking “Wow! This is the future!”. Luckily for you and me, the future of worms turned out to be much brighter, and Worms: Battlegrounds is proof of that.
Not that a storyline was ever important in a Worms game, but they do attempt to create one. Taking place around a historical museum, a generic evil villain has stolen an ancient StoneCarrot artifact and now you and your worms must retrieve it. Guided by the narration of actress Katherine Parkinson, the storyline may not be worthy of any awards, but what did you expect from a Worms title? Sadly the single player storyline is only twenty five extremely short levels and ten additional ‘Spec Ops’ missions, the latter of which feel more like tutorial levels than actual missions. If you plan to play this game solo only, you will no doubt become bored extremely fast. The AI isn’t the sharpest and they can sometimes draw out their turns into what feels like some sort of super-eternity but who buys a Worms game for single player? It’s all about going to war with your friends and loved ones! But I’ll get into that a bit later on.
Nearing the 20th anniversary of the first instalment of the long running series, Worms: Battlegrounds is the first entry in the “Next-gen” console cycle. While the game doesn’t look bad by any means, it’s hard to consider this a next-gen title. It falls more into the category of a very nice looking last-gen game. The 3D cartoony look doesn’t stand out, and the lack of decent anti-aliasing doesn’t help either. A part of me wishes the game would turn to a more drawn look, such as we’ve seen with the recent Rayman titles. While it may be considered ‘simpler’ than full 3D, the UbiArt Framework engine can be breathtakingly beautiful at times, and I feel would be a perfect fit for the Worms series.
Did you love all the old accents and quips of the older Worms titles? Well then fear not, for they have returned with a vengeance. Featuring loads and loads of voice styles and accents, you are sure to find one that suits you, everything from robots, to Cockney and Rastafarian. It’s just not a Worms game without hearing the little guys mutter out insults and cries in various tongues. The music and sound effects are in full force as well; with great wacky noises to match the weapons and environments and fantastically over-dramatic scores to go along with the deaths of many a great worm. New for the PS4 version of the game is the use of the Dual Shock’s speaker. Now you can hear the insults and death screams of your Worms right in your hands! This will no doubt scare the living hell out of you the first time it happens as it did me.
As with nearly every Worms game, the controls can be a tad hard to grasp at first. Jumping, hopping, and back-flipping take a bit of time to get used to, but once you do, it feels just as it should. The controls feel unchanged from what I played fifteen years ago, and while that may sound bad to some, if you have a played a Worms title, you’ll know that it’s to be expected. For the PS4 version they have mapped the touch pad to help with quicker weapon selection and swaps. While this is a nice addition, I personally never used it after my initial testing.
Weapons are bigger and more ridiculous than ever. Featuring sixty-five total weapons, ten of which are new, the arsenal is vast to say the least. With everything from flying sheep and banana bombs, to farting grannies and airstrikes, the game gives you loads of ways to cause destruction, assuring that you won’t grow bored of the different ways to cause a bit of mayhem anytime soon.
New in this title is the ability to create your own worm clan and challenge others online. Letting you name, dress up, and even create a logo for your clan and worms is a nice little extra to allow you to add some personal touches to the game. Something just feels good about equipping a worm with an Afro and some over-sized sunglasses before marching into battle.
Now for the meat and potatoes of the game, the multiplayer. With a maximum of four players either via the internet or on the good old couch, the online works just as you would expect it to. I experienced no lag during my matches and even managed to win a few. While it plays it safe with the basic deathmatch mode, it does add a new ‘Forts’ mode, which at first sounded exciting, but I soon realized it was basically deathmatch with a room built around my worms, disappointing to say the least. However the game still plays like the classic Worms we know and love; turn-based team battles in which one “poke” could change the course of the match. With the added clan support, I could see some serious worm warfare building with this one.
In the end, what Team 17 brings to the table is a great, albeit visually unimpressive, start to the next generation of worm-based battle simulators. While the single player comes across as a tad repetitive and short, the real reason most people purchase a Worms title is to partake in the multiplayer aspect. The price tag may be a bit high at £19.99, but if you are a fan of the Worms series, you will find Worms: Battlegrounds to be worth every cent.