Team 17 have been stuck between a rock and a hard place for quite a few years now, and after playing through, Worms Battlegrounds, their latest release on Xbox One and PS4, I think they’ll be stuck there for quite some time to come.
A problem that mirrors that experienced by Visual Concepts in their development of the NBA 2K series, Team 17 essentially nailed the concept of worm warfare on the very first attempt. Like the NBA 2K series which similarly nailed the fundamentals of virtual basketball on the first try, Team 17 are now stuck on a fixed track of continuous iteration.
In fairness to Team 17, they have tried to mix things up, what with Worms 3D and the such (heck, they even did Worms Crazy Golf), but invariably, fans just want to play what works, and what works is traditional 2D, side-on worm warfare, and for better and for worse, that’s exactly what we are getting with, Worms Battlegrounds.
It almost seems ridiculous to explain the premise of Battlegrounds, so, uhhhh, I won’t. You’ve played Worms before, you know the score – this is more of the same. Traditional 2D Worms mechanics and traditional Worms game modes. The only difference here, other than a slightly new coat of paint, is the inclusion of, well, more stuff.
In a seeming admittance that their isn’t really anything new that can be added to the formula, Team 17 have instead opted to deliver more of what works. More maps, more customisation, more weapons. More everything. Sure, it’s something of a kitchen sink approach to game design, but rather than get a host of new modes that don’t really fit the template, we are instead inundated with tons of the tried and tested. It’s actually hard to critique, as on one hand, I’ve experienced all this before, but if you’d asked me beforehand what I wanted from a new Worms game, I probably would have replied, “more of the same, please”. As I said – a rock and a hard place.
Worms Battlegrounds is arguably as good as Worms has ever been, but if you already own one of the myriad of very similar previous iterations, then its overall worth inevitably comes into question. If you’re the online type, then yes, Battlegrounds probably makes sense as a new game usually equals a new crowd and Battlegrounds arguably does Worms online better than ever before. If you’re like me though and prefer your Worms played exclusively with friends via bit of local co-op, then Battlegrounds existence becomes a little harder to justify. Saying that, if you happen to be one of the rare single player Worms guys (there must be some out there), then please, get on board, as, despite its faults, Battlegrounds has a surprisingly decent single player offering.
It might be little more than an elaborate way to prepare you for competitive Worms action, but both Story Mode and Worms Ops Mode deliver a decent challenge and an entertaining way to get used to the games’ array of outlandish weaponry.
Like 2013’s, Worms: Clan Wars, the single player offering is once again narrated by the IT Crowd’s, Katherine Parkinson and thanks largely to her deadpan delivery, is made much more entertaining than, well, playing Worms alone really should be. In fairness though, the challenges are relatively diverse and, despite the AI being customarily all over the place, is entertaining enough to make it worth at least a customary glance. The story is complete mince, but it’s not without its moments while Worms Ops, while starting gently enough, actually delivers a relatively stern challenge once you start to progress.
As always though, it’s the local multiplayer that reigns supreme and thanks to the outrageous level of customisation and huge arsenal of weaponry, Battlegrounds does deliver, what is unquestionably, the definitive version of this long running and much loved franchise.
Again, there is nothing revolutionary here, but with all that content available, there really is very little to actually complain about. The visuals too, while hardly pushing the Xbox One or PS4 on a technical level, are bright and vibrant. Everything here works brilliantly and the gameplay is as addictive and enjoyable as ever. The only problem is, despite a handful of minor additions, this is little more than a best-of compilation of previous 2D Worms releases. Just about everything you would hope to find in a Worms game is here, just don’t expect to find anything new.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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