Admittedly, it’s been some time since I’ve been impressed by a Worms release.
The last one I played, Revolution, lacked a bit of focus and seemed to be bogged down by poor execution. Battlegrounds fine tunes all of the misfired ambitions from its predecessor and offers up what is, without doubt, the definitive Worms experience.
It’s worth noting that Battlegrounds is a port of the PC title, Clan Wars.
While Revolution had the Matt Berry—whose voice is smooth like a fine whiskey—in the starring role, his The IT Crowd co-star Katherine Parkinson takes centre-stage here in a role that is delivered with impeccable comedic timing and that typical charm that British folk use to befuddle people like me. She is Tara Pinkle, eccentric thief of valuable artefacts and member of the Historical Hooligans. She enlists your rag tag clew of worms to infiltrate a museum spanning countless eras to stop the game’s villain, Mesmer, and retrieve the Stone Carrot.
If you’ve played a Worms title, it’s safe to bet you know what you’re in for.
Adorable little annelids, so cute it’s hard to believe they’re packing heat. Battlegrounds is no different as each class of worm—be it the scout, the corpulent heavy, the scientist or the old-fashioned workhorse everyworm, the soldier—has the signature bugged out eyes and four-digit mitts.
They’re customisable to a very limited degree, but it’s a nice touch nonetheless. It is a shame that everyone in a four-worm squad is forced to don the same outfit, it’d be nice to see some individuality to distinguish one worm from another, without having to consider body-type.
Even the maps on offer throughout the games campaign are well designed, with a lot of creativity on display. From the Stone Age to the Industrial Revolution, the story’s museum represents all the varied era you could hope for, each on show in the now standard, and wonderfully destructible, 3D. A common complaint of the maps, however, is that it’s rather easy to “lose” where ledges actually are against the great backdrops. So often I’d see myself plummeting to the great below; and sometimes I’d even be lucky enough to not have it followed by a kerplunk in dirty water.
Furthermore, with a serviceable landscape editor, forging battlefields to take online only serves to ripen the experience for long-time Worms fans.
As I already touched on, Katherine Parkinson’s performance is anything but one-note as her performance as Tara Pinkle is as deliciously maniacal as the likes of Portal’s GLaDOS, even if it’ll never experience the same praises. On the musical side of things, the soundtrack is, at times, surprisingly grandiose though for the most part it offers up the standard Elfmanesque themes that so often compliment these games so perfectly.
The good news is, the beloved and traditional brand of Worms gameplay remains intact, though the bad news is that it still carries with it all the warts and imperfections that has always hamstrung it, at times.
The A.I. is problematic, never finding the sweet spot between borderline lobotomised and dead-eye dick. It seems within a matter of minutes, they go from taking half a minute to line-up a rocket shot that inevitably blows them to kingdom come to bending a rocket through a u-bend. It’s ludicrous at times, though it didn’t exactly hinder the fun I had during the game’s twenty-five missions.
While the campaign is comprised of both standard deathmatch outings and some, at times, head-scratching puzzle scenarios, it’s going to be the game’s multiplayer that lures players in.
You can choose to either pass the controller across the couch in local play, or you can take the fight online in a traditional deathmatch or Forts, which requires teams to defend their respective base from attack while peppering the opponent’s with heavy fire. Either mode offers a lot of yucks, especially with good mates and I do hope there’s still a burgeoning interest out there for Worms.
If there isn’t, it’s hard to see the Battlegrounds feature take off, being clan-based and activity reliant. Having already launched the official Press-Start clan, I do hope it gains legs because it’d be great to see the community work together to reach the top of a league leaderboard, droppin’ holy hand grenades all the while.