By: Jeff Cater
Team 17 is at it again with their expected console adaptation of the PC’s Worms Clan Wars. Along with the usual slew of weaponry and hilarity, Worms Battlegrounds features a single-player campaign and a heavy focus on uniting with your friends and forming a clan in multiplayer.
Historically, Worms has been extremely easy to pick up but difficult to master, and the tradition is kept very much alive in this iteration. Your chosen worm will sluggishly scoot along the ground when you use the left stick, whereas the right stick will slide the camera about the stage. Pressing square will cause your worm to perform a small leap, and double pressing the same button executes a back flip with added height in order to better negotiate the randomly generated landscapes. Selecting a weapon from the menu with the circle button is easy and slick, but aiming and firing (with the X button) is still a true test of skill and experience with these games.
In no way does Worms Battlegrounds push the envelope, but the series has never really needed to because Team17 tends to put more emphasis on giving their light and bouncy visuals loads of attitude. The destructible stages have several different skin and object settings, which all blow up very nicely. A welcome addition is the inclusion of physics objects and dynamic water, the latter of which flows freely and beads up into small pools — it’s both a delight to look at and totally of tactical value.
Team17 also has a history of making games that are just fun to listen to, and Worms Battlegrounds is among the best. The weapons and explosions all sound appropriately voluminous and crunchy, and the large set of Worm voiceovers are all hilarious (my favorite voice set so far is the Commercial set, where the Worms advertise and brag about their skills in the same vain as any radio or TV advertisement) in their execution. During the short single-player campaign, the tale is advised and narrated by a woman named Tara Pinkle, whose care-free delivery fits right in with the games vibe.
It is almost as if the series is impervious to failure, as each installment enhances or changes the experience just enough to keep the series moving forward. The inclusion of a short campaign serves as a tool to familiarize yourself with the workings of various weapons and equipment, cleverly disguised by providing a narrative by Tara Pinkle, who seeks your expertise to secure a sacred Stone Carrot from The Museum.
Veteran Worms will likely skip the campaign and jump right into Worms Ops (short and often difficult skill missions) or Multiplayer, which now allows friends to form a Clan full of uniquely named, shaped and outfitted Worms to compete against other Clans for soil supremacy. Still though, the most fun contained in this can of Worms truly is open when you’ve got a friend within punching distance. Local multiplayer has always been the biggest draw for the franchise, and it certainly doesn’t lose any steam with this entry.
In addition to the expected Deathmatch mode, they have brought Forts along for the ride as well, so each team can hammer at one another until their base is nothing more than a peg in the middle of puddle of water.
Being able to edit and randomly create new stages is very cool but currently hamstrung by the inability to share them with the crowd; there’s only a system in place for people to share their creations with friends.
Team17 shit gold the day they figured out the Worms concept, and this is the strongest and most fun incarnation of that initial dream. Whether you’re playing against the A.I., some strangers online or your best friend and future archenemy on the couch, Worms Battlegrounds is a family-safe shooter that will keep everyone laughing until the end… or at least until someone uses the Concrete Donkey.