Just to clear up any potential confusion, Worms: Reloaded, and Worms 2: Armageddon are the same game and just have different titles on different systems. Worms is a turn based strategy game series that dates back to 1995 with the original Worms. The original Worms was released on the PC, Mega Drive, Super Nintendo, Gameboy, Amiga, PS1, Saturn, and even the Atari Jaguar, but only the PC, PS1, and Saturn versions got a release outside Europe. Seeing as how there have been at least ten games in the Worms series released between the original game and Reloaded, that should be enough to indicate that this is NOT the second game in the series. In actuality, the game was intended as a sequel to Worms: Armageddon, the third game in the series, but they put the 2 in the wrong spot (don’t ask me how they managed to mess that up).
Fittingly enough, I actually played Worms Armageddon on the PS1 when I was younger, as it was a game my brother owned. I remember having a bit of fun with that, but it also frustrating me because I did not fully understand how to play it. Normally, one could chalk that up to me being a kid, but I found that not much changed regarding my experience with Worms: Reloaded, aside from my enjoyment. I have no way of knowing if Armageddon was actually a better game or whether I just enjoyed it because my standards had not developed yet. In regards to Reloaded, I did enjoy it at first, but it didn’t take long for me to become sick of it.
The premise of the Worms series it that you have a team of cartoony worm creatures, and your goal is to shoot and throw explosives at your enemies until all that remains is a crater emptier than Donald Trump’s skull. You can move as far as you can within 60 seconds and you go back and forth between you and your opposing team. There is a large emphasis on positioning and using your surroundings to efficiently dispose of your opponents considering that, unlike most turn based strategy games, the land is destructible.
Even more unique is the fact that every level is above a body of water, and worms cannot swim. This means instant death if a Worm falls too deep into water. This makes Worms similar to the Smash Bros series in that knocking your opponent out of bounds is often just as or more efficient than draining their HP. One will often need to take advantage of both the terrain, the trajectory of their weapons, the distance that an attack will send the worm flying, the placement of land mines and explosive crates, and even the spot that a worm dies in because they explode when their HP reaches zero. As matches go on, you will destroy more and more of the landscape, which means both you and your enemies get clearer shots, and if you take too long, the water levels will start rising.
So, it sounds like there are a lot of strategic elements to Worms, but Worms: Reloaded fails in the implementation of these mechanics. Worms: Reloaded is clearly a multiplayer focused title, but I was unable to find a match online so this game can only really be played cooperatively the old fashioned way. Thankfully, the console versions (PS3/Xbox 360) do feature offline multiplayer (and it is really sad that I actually have to make note of when a game has that these days) and you only need one controller since it is turn based; so if you are looking for a game to play with friends, Worms: Reloaded could possibly work. Unfortunately, I am only able to review it as a single player experience.
What kills most of the strategy in Worms: Reloaded is just how random everything is, and that nothing ever feels consistent. For example, some weapons require you to hold down the space bar to throw or shoot something harder and thus further. The problem is that you can never tell how long you need to hold down the button to fire your weapon at just the right distance, and you will often end up overshooting your target or even hitting your own team mates. All of this occurs while the AI always knows just the right distance needed to hit you from all the way across the map even on the easiest difficulty. Note that I say this because I never took the game off beginner’s mode, and if you tell me to git gud I’ll inject ghost pepper extract into your eye sockets.
The game does offset this by having the AI occasionally screw up and either miss their intended target or accidentally hit themselves, but the problem is how it occurs at random without any observable pattern. Worms is a turn based strategy game, but without any sense of consistency, there is nothing to strategize. The entire point of strategy games is to plan out your actions based on observations and to discourage rushing in Leyroy Jenkins style without a plan. If there is no discernible pattern however, that is all you can do.
On top of this, the control scheme for the PC version is awkward as hell and is a huge detriment to the game. Firstly, the worms are controlled using the arrow keys, but one also needs to use the mouse to control the camera and to select which weapon you want to use. Both the arrow keys and the mouse are typically on the right of the player since most people are right handed. However, since there is no option to use the WASD keys for movement, you will likely be controlling everything with your right hand, which makes things much more annoying when you have a 60 second time limit per turn.
On top of that, you jump using the Enter key, but there are two different kinds of jumps. There is a normal jump which is just a long leap in whatever side you are facing, or there is a back flip that you use to reach higher up locations. First of all, this is already made awkward in that these jumps operate on Ghouls n Ghosts logic of you not being able to control yourself in the air, and that you need to be facing away from your intended destination for the back flip to work, along from it having pitiful horizontal distance. What really fucks everything up though is that the back flip is triggered by pressing the enter button twice in rapid succession, and that it will not always read the second press. This has screwed me over countless times because it made me do a horizontal leap off a ledge or into a landmine when I was trying to do a back flip to reach a higher ledge. This means that not only is the enemy’s actions and the outcomes of your attacks random, but that the outcome of your button presses are to! It legit feels like Mario Party is less luck based than this game at points.
Unfortunately, this game also decides to throw in horribly designed puzzle segments into the single player campaign as well. They started off manageable enough consisting of “get yourself to this location” or “destroy this enemy” while using only what you are given MacGyver style. They were initially easy enough to figure out and execute, but later on they just became tedious; in fact, it was one of these that made me ragequit this game. It was one where I needed to use a super sheep, a powerful bomb attack that takes the form of a sheep that will run in one direction and jump over a pit until you press the space bar, which will cause it to fly upward and trigger a massive explosion. The puzzle required you to place two girders over the water to allow the sheep to fly up towards the ground under three landmines and cause them to fly off in upwards directions and hit their targets (because apparently, landmines don’t just explode when shot with another explosive).
The problem is that knowing the solution is not good enough; you instead need to space the girders apart at just the right length to allow the sheep to hit just the right spot. If they are too close, the sheep won’t hit every mine, and if there is too much distance, the sheep will fall in the water; and you have to set the girders back up again every single time you fail. There is no indication towards what the right distance is either, and the only way you could find out is through trial and error, which just makes everything frustrating and tedious as hell.
In the end, I can only recommend Worms: Reloaded as a multiplayer title if you have local multiplayer options, where it can be fun in a chaotic party game style; as a single player turn based strategy game I cannot. To touch on its production values, I do think the aesthetic is nice and they have a lot of creative looking weapon and level designs. There is also the ability to choose from multiple amusing speech banks for your team that will play dependent on your team’s actions. Additionally, I did not get nearly as frustrated whenever one of my worms had a landmine or dynamite stick left to them because the scream that they let out when that happens is absolutely priceless. The music is mostly generic elevator fluff except for the title theme which was pretty catchy, although it could have done without the chipmunk filter.
I will assume that the console versions make for better single player experiences due to better controls, so if you were to play this game I would recommend one of those instead of the PC version. I also do not know how this compares to the other games in the Worms series so I can’t make an accurate judgment there, but I can say that you shouldn’t open up this can of worms.
This review was a patron request by John Dolan, who also provided me with the Steam key for this game, so thank you.
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