Worms: Reloaded attempts to take the Worms series back to its roots, but ends up breaking the game rather than fixing it.
Five years ago, if you’d asked me what my favourite gaming series of all time was, I probably would have considered Team 17’s Worms saga. Featuring teams of charismatic wrigglers who love nothing better than to blow each other up with grenades and giant, concrete donkeys, it was arguably the most fun you could have with a turn-based multiplayer game.
Ask me in the present day, however, and the little guys wouldn’t even cross my mind, due to a flurry of horrible Worms releases which added nothing to the original concept, and were quite simply cash-ins trying to squeeze a few extra drops out of a tired franchise.
The latest Worms venture, Worms: Reloaded, attempts to take the series back to its roots, collecting together the elements that made the game so great in the first place. While there’s no denying that this is the game we used to know and love, a number of unforgivable issues once again kill the experience, including a dodgy camera and broken online multiplayer.
If you’re reading this, you most likely already know what Worms is about, but here’s a brief outline for those who have been living under a rock – players each have a team of four worms, and take it in turns to select a weapon, choose another worm from the enemy team and then fire when ready. The winner is the player who owns the last worm standing.
Straight off the bat, you can see how Team 17 is trying to appeal to fans of the series. All the old sound banks are available plus some silly new ones, giving your worms a voice and allowing you to feel like you have a unique team. There are tons of old favourite weapons to choose from, and randomly generated levels are littered with mines and oil barrels, ready to explode and cause havoc.
There’s plenty for a single player to see and do. The Campaign mode features a mix of regular shoot-outs, races using the ninja rope and the jetpack, and interesting puzzles levels which ask you to use your worms in ways you normally wouldn’t. Then there’s Warzone mode – aka kill worms over and over again as they become progressively more difficult – and Body Count, a survival-style romp that is easily the most enjoyable addition to the series.
A few extra attentions to detail help to give this latest release a fresh feel too. The new HD backdrops look lovely; Worms now scream is terror when a stick of dynamite is dropped next to them; Credits can be collected to buy new levels, gravestones and forts; Worms can be dressed up in silly costumes and colours. For a title described as ‘the ultimate Worms game’, Reloaded appears to be on track.
Not for long, however, as a bunch of inexcusable problems constantly arise. Easily the biggest issue is the camera that follows all the action. The camera always tries to focus on whatever action is happening, even when you’re trying to look at something else. It flickers all over the place and never wants to move where you actually want it. It’s highly infuriating, especially since I’ve never seen this problem occur in a Worms game before.
Then there are the weapons. While all the classics are present, they have been awfully dumbed down and no longer feel at all powerful. A huge selling point of Worms was that the weapons felt strong and created huge holes in the landscape – now they feel merely adequate. Reloaded also features 14 brand new weapons, the majority of which are pretty terrible. Invisibility is incredibly pointless – it makes your worm disappear, yet the camera still follows your movement, so other players can see where you are anyway! And don’t even get me started on the disappointment I felt when I set off my first trio of ferrets.
The other huge problem is the online multiplayer, which is really quite broken. Finding friends and joining a game is easy thanks to the Steamworks support, but multiple times during play my game went out of sync with my friends’ games, causing utter havoc.
In one particular game, my friend accidentally threw his last worm into the water, and I was given the victory. As I sat in the lobby toasting my success, my friend messaged me over Steamfriends asking why I wasn’t taking my move. It turned out that on his screen, he hadn’t fallen in the water, and he was now waiting for me to take my turn even though I wasn’t in the game anymore! How this kind of problem wasn’t caught in testing is beyond me, but it’s really very shoddy.
The list of issues goes on – you can only have up to four worms in a team rather than the eight that some past Worms games have offered; There’s some very lazy design now and again, including five campaign levels which are rehashes of old levels; The game takes ages to move to the next player after someone has had their go; The Steam achievements are all pretty terrible and not very interesting. The ‘ultimate Worms game’? Far from it, actually.
Worms: Reloaded tries to be a Worms experience worthy of your time, but inevitably is yet again just another remake. Not only that, but the developers have also managed to mess up some of the key elements that make the Worms experience so unique. The only reason to buy this version of the Worms saga is for the Steam integration – otherwise, just grab an older edition. We recommend Worms 2 or Worms Armageddon – the highlights of the Worms series.