Who doesn’t love a bunch of militant worms? I know I do. If you’ve got a tactical mind for side-scrolling warfare, grab Worms while it’s on sale for half off.
We will be up front about it: Worms is one of our favorite series. Since its debut on the Amiga in 1994, we (and many other gamers) have been immersed in the game’s whimsical environments and characteristics. When Team17 announced that the game was going to be ported over to the iPhone, our excitement was inevitable. However, we were faced with a monumental letdown.
Aesthetically, the game is just as beautiful as we expected. The colorful and oddly-shaped environments ranging from conquered craters to icy expanses and a ghastly hell really make Worms stand out. Plus, every match is different due to randomly generated levels.
Oh, what a lovely tea party.
Worms is a game that thrives on personality, and this iteration has plenty of it. The worms make cute and occasionally hilarious remarks when acted upon, making even the crudest of weapons seem charming. There is also a large arsenal of unique and zany weapons (26 in total) including a worm-crushing donkey statue, exploding bananas, and a sheep. Oh, and the Holy Hand Grenade with its ‘hallelujah’ voice effect is still in full swing.
Unfortunately, this layer of polish does not save the port from its deadly fate.
One of the best parts of Worms was the ability to swiftly jump, swing, and jetpack around while at the same time dropping bombs and bullets shamelessly on unsuspecting enemies. Due to a lot of lag and unresponsive touch controls, even jumping is next to impossible. While precision is tough given the small screen of the device, the game’s tendency to do the opposite of what you expect is a game-breaking flaw.
Shooting weapons controls slightly better, although it still suffers from the aforementioned slowdown. This generally involves placing a crosshair in the direction you want the worm to fire a weapon and then holding down a button to determine power. The power meter occasionally stuttered, resulting in us missing a shot. Also, the camera doesn’t always follow the weapon to the end of its trail, meaning you cannot savor each dying moment of your enemy.
Speaking of flaws with the camera, it is also extremely tedious to pan and zoom. The two finger swiping and pinching reacts slowly and, in turn, changes your perspective little. For example, even when zoomed into your worm as far as possible, everything is still very small. This means that initiating the perfect shot is more difficult than it should be.
They can put a worm on the moon, but no real multiplayer in this game…
Another major issue we encountered in this port is the unbalanced AI. Easy mode is like a win button, as enemy worms constantly make idiotic mistakes, while both Normal and Hard will have them landing almost every shot perfectly on your defenses. This means that you will end up facing off against an opponent that will one-shot kill you just about every time, which is no fun.
As far as single player goes, the game has a decent amount of content that, if you choose to pursue (and we would guess you wouldn’t), will last a while. With 50 ‘challenge’ missions, quick play, and a sandbox for weapon testing, there is enough to justify a complete single player experience. However, we would like to see a level editor and fully customizable sessions in the future.
This said, the main draw of Worms is multiplayer. After all, crushing your friends with a cute, fluffy sheep is extremely satisfying. This iteration of the game is surprisingly missing this satisfaction. As it stands, the closest you get to this experience is pass-and-play, although then the appeal of watching your friends get destroyed is taken away. Even with tons of options for multiplayer on the system, including online, Bluetooth, and wifi, it was left out of the launch build. Team17 has stated that they plan to include it in some form in the future, but we find it hard to understand why it’s missing in the first place.
Customization is shallow in this port of Worms. The only options you have are to name your worms and team. Other iterations of the game included options such as hats for your worms, which is something we feel could easily be implemented here as downloadable content.
Worms has potential, but its glaring omissions and game-breaking flaws make it feel like a quick cash-in as opposed to a worthy and well-crafted port. Until these issues are addressed, this game will both anger fans of the series and turn off newcomers immediately.