This is a war that has been raging for around 15 years pitting worm against worm in a savage life and death battle. No-one seems to know why the war began or who fired the first shot but it is now clear that they will not stop until every single worm has died a cruelly comedic death.
And so the war returns to the place where it first began, the PC, with some swanky new high-definition graphics and a whole raft of new features as well as the mandatory Steam-based multiplayer. This marks Team 17's shift away from boxed games with their continues onslaught of downloadables which includes a horde of Worms titles on PC and console and the rebooted Alien Breed series.
Worms Reloaded is the first PC Worms title in quite a while and Team 17 has pulled out all the stops to make sure that the game is every bit as special as it was when the series debuted on the PC back in 1995. Worms Reloaded also marks a return to the 2D look that got everyone hooked on the series in the first place.
As well as returning to the format where Worms won so many hearts so many years ago Worms Reloaded also brings back all the things that the series has learned from its various console sojourns in the intervening years. The result is a Worms game crammed with all the features a Worms fan could want with the added bonus that it will even work on netbooks making it the best portable version of the game available.
So, what weapons have the worms brought to their armoury this time I hear you ask? The new game includes nicely-customisable teams, full campaign modes in Body Count and Warzone as well as the return of forts for your worms to hide in. This all comes alongside a full array of Steamworks additions that includes automatic updates, Steam Achievements and the usual high quality matchmaking features that Valve has spoiled us with over the years. This is all wrapped up in a very sharp HD version of the classic 2D Worms visuals making the game feel fresh and up-to-date.
The game plays just as you would expect a Worms title to play. The suspense ridden turn-based combat that makes Worms so horrendously addictive is right there at your fingertips. Use the mouse to view the battlefield and select which of the massive selection of deadly weapons to use and then move your current Worm around using the arrow keys and the enter key for jump. Pushing enter twice allows you to execute a backwards somersault jump allowing you to reach higher ledges with some entertaining acrobatics. Then use the up and down arrow keys to aim and press space to fire and kill your first worm. Depending on the weapon selected holding down space bar for longer will increase the power of the projectile and therefore the distance travelled. Thats all you really need to know to get on with the killing.
The usual array of weapons is there from the multifunctional bazooka to the homing missile and the always entertaining sheep. The more you play the game the more varied weapons you will encounter and hence the more interesting and ingenious ways you will find of killing your opponent's worms. This applies to both multiplayer and single player modes. You also have the traditional 60 seconds per turn to engage in the senseless slaughter of worms so you will also learn a bit of grace and finesse under pressure. There is even an option to play multiplayer locally meaning that you can gather a bunch of friends and family round the PC in order to impress them all with the proficiency of your worm killing skills.
There is a downside to Worms Reloaded and, to be fair the whole series has suffered the same problem and that is, while there remains a really decent selection of single player options there is no real story-based campaign mode reducing the basic single-player mode to a procession of deathmatch games punctuated with the odd skill challenge in which you use one of the movement tools such as the jetpack or ninja ropes to navigate an assault course in a specific time limit. This is a bit disappointing as the game could benefit tremendously from a story-based campaign executed in the style of Cannon Fodder.
On the plus side there is the Warzone mode which challenges you to take on a series of increasingly challenging deathmatches against computer controlled opponents and the Body Count mode in which you have one worm with which to take on a never ending procession of successively stronger opponents with whatever weapons you have and can scrounge during the game.
Both these modes are entertaining but do not make up for the lack of a well-designed story mode. What these modes do do is prepare you for playing the classic and eternally enjoyable multiplayer mode games.
Worms Reloaded is a pretty and engaging game that, while light on the single player replayability will charm and endear with its quirky weaponry and unique brand of multiplayer carnage. There is no other game series like it and the gaming world would be diminished without the presence of the endless warfare of Worms.