Worms. As soon as I hear this word I don’t think of gooey, long, thin things that slide around in soil and get stuck onto hooks as bait. No, I think of a few pink pixels, holding a few dark green pixels blowing kingdom come out of other sets of pink pixels on a randomly generated landscape. I was a big fan of the original worms game way back when, and subsequently of a number of its sequels – Worms Armageddon for PC was a particular favourite of mine. I’ve known about the iOS versions of these fantastic blow ’em ups since before getting my iPhone but, as with all things Appy, I have a reluctance to spend money on something that I can’t physically hold – I’m a bit old fashioned like that I guess! Anyway, not long back the price for Worms 2 Armaegeddon plummeted to 69p, and I thought that it was high time I gave it a go…
Though I’ve not yet completed the campaign mode I thought it was time for the review. I’ve found it a mixed bag. Part of me loves it – the conversion to iOS seems not to have taxed the graphics, soundtrack and customisation options, which all impress, as does the increasing level of difficulty that gives newer players a chance to get up to speed.
|Performng the elusive backflip|
But part of me is just not sure – there’s no tutorial, meaning controls are something left mainly to guesswork. The weapons aren’t introduced at all – most of them are clear if you’ve had some previous Worms experience, but some are a little obscure, and to find out how they work, you have to enter the inventory and hold down over the icon you’re interested in. This wastes precious move time, which I’ve found occassionally to be a real problem (You could always spend time in practice mode/quick games and try out all the weapons, but I just wanted to jump in)
Controls is something that needs to be discussed. A number of times, I’ve been 3-4 worms up, with the final enemy worm on less than 20 health points, only for each of my turns to send my own worms diving to oblivion or blowing themselves up out of seeming ineptitude. As it happens, I believe the controls are largely to blame more often than not. Jumping, back-flipping, ninja-roping and jet-packing are all very much a hit and miss affair. You build up confidence of control over these movements for a while, only to end up drowning yourself the very next time you go to hop over a barrell. Before long you’ll be finding ways to avoid making any movements at all other than where absolutely necessary, which for me cuts out some of the most fun parts of the PC version – having a turn that takes you from one side of the terrain to the other, dropping off a stick of dynamite or holy hand grenade before reaching a nice safe ledge to watch the fireworks from.
|Having a boogie before being blown up|
Additionally, navigating the camera around the terrain is a bit of a pain. You are limited to the area around your worm, and though you can zoom out, you can’t actually zoom far enough to see the entire play area. The zoom limit means you sometimes end up firing a little blind. For really long shots, I’ve found myself using one of the location weapons, such as airstrike of homing missle, just to get a view of further along the landscape, before switching back to my actual weapon of choice and trying to remember the exact direction and distance of the enemy. More often than not this ends in a bazooka shot just smashing into a wall or flying off into the ocean, but occasionally you end up blowing up comrades. Friendly fire – not great.
These niggles aside, the game is a lot of fun to play. Sticking headphones in and playing on the train makes the journey fly by, as your worms commentate the warzone in your chosen dialect/accent and, as mentioned above, the cute cel-shaded style graphics are great, with fantastic animations. I understand the transition of a PC keyboard/mouse setup to touchscreen must be difficult to get really intuitive controls, so I can forgive the controls to a certain degree.
|The ever effective banana bomb|
However, I don’t understand why the camera can’t zoom out to view the entire terrain – that to me just seems lazy. The “mission complete” screen’s graphics are fuzzy, as is the App icon itself, which again just seem like laziness that I wish Team 17 would sharpen up a bit.
Multiplayer is great fun, especially since the latest update has introduced completely asynchronous, turn based play – meaning you don’t have to both be playing at the same time, think Wordfeud/Words with Friends or Draw Something. This brings a whole new dimension to multiplayer as you can play against online friends or (automatched enemies!) completely in your own time.
I’ll probably give an update once I’ve finished with campaign mode. But so far, I’m giving it a nice 7 out of 10. I can get over the issues, but maybe that’s just because I’m a huge worms fan already?
Teachers comment would read: well done, a few areas for improvement (see my notes in red) but all in all a good effort.