Worms WMD is the 20th Worms game to date and is the latest checkpoint along a fascinating journey. Back in the early 90s a small games publisher known as 17-Bit Software joined up with up a small developer known as Team 7 and formed Team 17, they published a couple of games when along came Andy Davidson to a trade show in 1994 with a small game he made by taking the classic Artillery and ripping Lemmings graphics over the top of it. On the spot Team17 offered him a job and the chance to make the game, the Lemmings got turned into worms with some better graphics and the game was launched as their most successful title to date on the Amiga and PC – to this day its still their most successful title. It was heavily inspired by scorched earth which was considered the best artillery game of its time – itself a game inspired on original artilerry titles from the 70s and as one of the oldest game genres, by one of the oldest independent game developers Worms is back again and is closer to the original titles roots than any in recent memory but I digress….
Worms WMD features a couple of main tracks and these are melodic affairs that are largely easy listening though they ramp up to a more militaristic style with drums and haunting strings at times. These songs suit the game well and never disturb the flow of gameplay. The wind features when its heavy and there is something particularly satisfying about smashing a rocket into your opponent causing mass destruction, the uzi is another favourite along with the classic sheep sound effects.
Much of the audio comes in the form of Worms chit chat which is surprisingly vast featuring a whole host of accents complete with stereotypical lines such as the bad rappers and American army as well as many of the classics that long time players of the series will remember fondly!
Worms is back to its 2D roots and is presented well with hand drawings in a cartoon style throughout. It has charm and a huge range of backgrounds to battle it out on. Your worm commandos wear a bunch of funny expressions and have a wide array of helmets to wear to give them some personality. The presentation is tried and tested and ports just fine to the Switch whether in handheld mode or on a TV, the vibrant colours make the graphics bold and pop.
Worms has been through a rollercoaster ride, as one of the classics though certainly not the biggest strategy games out there this time they brought it back to its roots. 2D is back and Worms WMD builds on the original premise of shooting your enemies with a vast array of weapons, blowing up the map and wreaking havoc in a turn based battle. The controls work well on the Switch whether on a TV or on the move, the aiming is spot on though difficult and you can get to grips with the campaign mode which plays as an extended training mode. There are a number of additional single player game modes that pit you in puzzle like positions – killing an enemy with a single shot or taking a worm general out with nothing but a jetpack and a bunch of cleverly placed mines. You also get a bunch of extra tough battles that replicate historic events and pit you against the odds. One unfortunate issue is the positioning of the camera which can at times be a bit fiddly to get into a well placed position which leads to some scrambles for time, whilst the issue is not major I certainly noticed it from time to time.
To keep things fresh Team17 have added a few new features, the first is the ability to craft weapons on the fly. At first I was a bit hesitant of the system which requires you to collect raw materials from crates or by breaking down weapons in order to take its components and create something else but as time went on and I got used to it I found it fun and at times essential in certain positions. It never dominates a battle but effective management of these resources adds an extra layer to the strategy.
Buildings are another addition, placed throughout maps these are often a haven letting you get some respite as well as a place to collect valuable crates that contain weapons or components from which you can craft weapons to bolster your arsenal. At times an enemy worm will be hidden in a building and you won’t know about it until they shoot you!
Mounted weapons like turrets and a sniper rifle can spawn as well making them valuable spots to take ownership of though sometimes they can spawn in odd places as is the nature of randomly generated maps.
Vehicles have also been added which add some strength but never dominate a battle, you have a hillarious helicopter that is almost impossible to control but blasts everything in its path, a tank that shoots a series of mortars as well as a few other diverse vehicles.
Worms never takes itself too seriously and whilst there is a strategic beast under the hood it keeps to its core value of having fun, this is certainly best when playing with friends in a trash talking epic battle! Local Co-Op works just as you would expect and you have a full range of customisations available from turn time to your individual worm squads names, accents and headgear. As always worms does very well on its map generating with a massive range of backdrops.
As you play you level up which unlocks additional costumes and accents, take the game online and play in ranked mode and progress to increase your rank and unlock more customisation options. Finding a match is pleasantly easy and is a blast however due to the current Switch Online issues and no direct solution from Team17 you sadly cannot play a friend directly, some may find this a real problem depending on your play pattern and its certainly a dissapointment to an otherwise comprehensive worms experience.
At £19.99 in the UK and $29.99 in the US worms is priced appropriately, for those looking for a classic worms experience look no further – the addition of online play, lots of unlocks and content being added all the time make for a cohesive package. That said this version does away will frills, there is no story mode here and solo play can become repetitive fairly quickly.