The Worms series has been going for a good old time, first emerging from underground in 1995. Some 18 years after the initial wave of wriggly earth movers we have this, the latest and, potentially, greatest outing yet, and multiplayer, as always, is the focus here. This time, however, it’s all about large-scale clan warfare.
The more things change…
If you’ve played any of the more recent Worms titles, such as Revolution, little will take you by surprise here, and much of the game’s core mechanics have remained the same in Clan Wars. The Worms formula is adhered to by the book, which isn’t a bad thing, as the tactical action has always worked well. However, is another outing worth a look? For Worms fans, maybe. It all depends on how competitive you are, and how much you want to show the world your mad skills.
Worms Clan Wars features the same elements we’ve come to expect from the series. Take a group of comically-named and dressed worms, place them on a randomly generated series of precarious islands atop a deadly ocean, and let the opposing team of worms have it with an assortment of wacky weaponry. Everything from shotguns and grenades to grannies and Concrete Donkeys are here, with the charming cartoon visuals and humorous accents complementing the heavily multilayer-focused action.
What has changed, however, is a much improved single-player story, and the titular Clan Wars mode that aims to make the game a more online-centric competitive title.
One carrot to rule them all
Single player in Worms has often been lacking, and aside from standard matches with AI opposition, the option of which is still included here, there’s been little to keep solo fans coming back for more. Not so with Clan Wars as the story mode, featuring Katherine Parkinson as Lara Croft-spoof, Tara Pinkle, is a more substantial mode.
Although it’s clearly a glorified training mode, the story, which takes place in various museum exhibits as you attempt to recapture the fabled stone carrot from an evil hypnotist is littered with puzzles and entertaining scenarios, and it’s a great way to master the various weapons and items that you’ll be using in the competitive modes.
It’s odd for this scripted mode to still enforce such things as turn counters, and the enemy AI offers very little in the way of challenge, but it’s a decent solo diversion, and is certainly the best attempt the series has made so far. I just wish there was less hand-holding and more room for experimentation. As it stands, it’s far more instructional than challenging.
The competitive modes are where Worms games have always shined, though, even more so with this offering. Alongside the usual multiplayer options, including local matches, the new Clan Wars mode is the crown jewel in the release, and Team 17 has endeavoured to beef up the game’s online presence. It’s not a major evolution, that’s for sure, but it’s certainly a welcome addition to what is, at its core, a competitive title.
In this mode you can create your own Worms clan, complete with custom name, emblem and appearance. You can invite your friends to join you, or you can join other clans. Once in a clan, you can then take to the Web and challenge other clans. Do well, and you’ll advance up the ranks, and can be promoted to the higher leagues. Do badly, and its relegation for you I’m afraid.
The customisation here, and in the whole game in general is the usual top Worms form. Worms, voices, outfits, match rules and environments can be tinkered around with, and in Clan Wars this is important, and this flexibility really opens the game up to competitions, as you can dictate rules and regulations for the perfect rival matches.
What’s more, of all the Worms game’s I’ve played, the weapon balancing here seems to be far better. No weapons are too overpowered, and all-in-all this makes for much more enjoyable and rewarding matches, with few cheap wins. Then again, this is Worms, and cheap kills are part of the game’s make-up, as are glitches and accidental deaths, of which there are still plenty. In other games, getting stuck on scenery, or encountering AI that can hit a five pence coin with a rocket launcher from a mile away in a gale force wind would annoy, but here it’s all part of the charm.
The game’s worm classes have been tweaked too, and they have more noticeable benefits. For example, the heavy now does far more damage, in a bigger radius when he buys the farm, and this makes choosing your team line up more important.
Worms Clan Wars does a lot to address the series’ solo shortcomings, and it adds plenty in the way of multiplayer muscle thanks to the clan support, but at the end of the day, the core game is the same one we’ve been playing for years, and for this reason, if you’re getting bored of the Worms formula, then your interest won’t really be invigorated here.
The magic remains, though. It’s still just as satisfying to nail your friends with perfectly aimed bazooka shot, or by simply pushing them off a cliff with a finger poke, and poor decisions can still lead to calamitous, and hilarious outcomes, only this time, it can be on a competitive global arena.
It’s not revolutionary, and little has changed about the main game, which holds back the score somewhat, and as much as Team 17 may want it to, I doubt it’ll be the next million dollar prize awarding eSport, but this is certainly a contender for the best game in the Worms series, and it’s still a great tactical party game.