|There was a time, an odd time, when Worms ruled. Back on my old Amiga, I had some good funs playing the original Worms hotseat with college chums, and since then the series has held a nostalgic place in my small cold heart.|
So here we come, years later, in 2001, to WWP, with much flashier graphics, a blistering framerate, a boatload (50+) of weapons, some form of Internet play, and various single-player challenge modes. Is it still the Worms I knew and loved? Yes, but expectations have gone up.
I cringe at the Windows CE boot screen, but the game actually runs at a blistering framerate, so no worries there. The cartoonish art style suits the game pretty well, and there are a huge variety of landscape types to keep the 2D generated landscapes from getting dull.
You can pick from a plethora of voice sample banks for the worm soldier voices, but your choice will apply to all the teams on the field, which kind of takes away from the point of picking different voices to get individuality.
Oh, I should say something about the game for those who don't know. Worms was based on the old "Artillery" style games, where you have a tank on a rolling side-view 2D landscape, and it doesn't move, and you take turns with a buddy adjusting your gun turret's angle and firing power, trying to lob shots onto each other. Worms gave the whole thing a cutesy spin, and took it mobile, with teams of little worms inching and swinging their way around the maps, engaging in ridiculous turn-based violence using bazookas, shotguns, fists (worm fists?), dynamite, exploding sheep (?!), and so forth. Each turn, you get to move and attack with one of your team's worms, selecting from a bank of weapons and tools.
The usual Worms play is simply to generate a random landscape, scatter the worm teams around it, and go at it. You can do that here, and customize the terrain texture, general shape, and choose from a plethora of weapon/rule sets. You can make teams with 1-4 worms, and play with up to four of them at once. You can give the AI teams a smartness rating, which works pretty nicely in going from "pretty dumb" to "ridiculously good."
By the time they made WWP, though, Team17 was getting more involved, adding other gameplay modes, including single-player challenge modes where you have to fulfill certain tasks (get one worm across the burning tanker, collecting survival gear, for instance), collect things or take out targets within a certain amount of time (Time Attack), or engage in a series of deathmatches against opponents of escalating difficulty. The last one probably works the best, and would keep me busiest the longest. The other two are kind of annoying, and show why Worms should stick to turn-based team strategy. One thing that is nice, though, are the custom, hand-drawn backgrounds used for some of these more puzzle-like challenges. You can use those custom backgrounds for generic matches, too, if you like.
Then there's internet play. I didn't try it, because it didn't support the Dreamcast BBA, and darned if I'm doing dialup modem. GameSpot says they had a lot of technical problems getting the 56k multiplayer going, so who knows. Shame though, 'cause being turn-based and all, Worms works pretty well multiplayer (I played Worms 2 on PC multiplayer a few times).
Anyway, bells and whistles aside, WWP plays a pretty good core game of Worms. The weapon selection is insane, with stuff like whole herds of exploding Mad Cows, "Holy Hand Grenades" that do massive damage over a huge area, and so forth. Some of the 50+ weapons and tools may be kind of redundant, but they're almost all interesting to use.
There are, however, some things I don't like here. First and foremost, the menu UI is absolutely horrible, consisting of a series of screens with nearly random smatterings of poorly outlined boxes, and unintuitive icons that actually get harder to read when highlighted. Each time you want to try a different custom game, for instance, you get returned back to the main menu, then have to navigate back into the custom match menu, reassign all your teams on the blank windows that you discover by trial and error take teams, then you have to go in and set your landscape (we won't go into that), select your weapon configuration and match rules from a non-explanatory list, and go. It's hard to see what anything you're clicking on is doing, and the whole menu system is just one non-stop nightmare until you actually get into the playing part of the game.
The other irritating thing is the omission of a weapon/rule set editing mode. You can pick from I don't know, maybe twenty-five or so presets, but you can't, unless it's hiding in the UI, set up your own weapon and rule set. With the huge number of weapons and tools in this game, editing weapon sets would have offered huge replay value. As it is, the variety they've included is wide, but just not capable of covering all the angles, and that's a shame.
Aside from that, though, this is pretty good as far as Worms goes, even if most of the challenge modes didn't quite work out that great. I miss the zoom function available in later versions, but that didn't get invented 'til later, so I won't really complain about its omission, and anyway, scrolling the playfield at least is really fast and smooth.