Just when you thought those adorable worms couldn’t inflict anymore damage, Team 17 steps into the next gen arena with Worms Battlegrounds for Playstation 4. A port of Worms Clan Wars for PC, Battlegrounds includes twenty-five single-player story missions, ten ‘Worm-Up’ time attack missions, and five new era-specific environments (i.e. Inca, Feudal Japan, Viking, Industrial Revolution and Prehistoric with day to night lighting transitions), to name just a few.
In terms of variety, the player can name their ‘worm’ clan, their team, and the individual worms that comprise that team. Customizable options exist to outfit a worm clan with a variety of accessories, different speech samples, and a clan enblem that can be created by using a simple three-layered system.
Like its predecessors, WB starts with a tutorial that introduces the player to the intricacies of ‘worm’ combat. The game explains how to use weapons and special items such as parachutes to your advantage. Each tutorial is designed to play like a standard level, but with basic objectives to complete. This keeps the flow of the game consistent, as you learn how to navigate your worms(s) through the rough terrain.
The gameplay is based on a series of objectives that must be completed before moving on to the next level. These objectives vary based on the game mode being played (i.e. story mode, versus, etc.), but a good percentage of them involve killing off your adversaries and collecting weapons and tools for your worms to use. During story mode, for example – you are employed by Tara Pinkle (narrated by Katherine Parkinson) to help steal precious artifacts from a museum’s prehistoric exhibit for the Historical Hooligans society.
As you progress through story mode, Ms. Pinkle will instruct you on story-driven objectives that range from finding artifacts to collecting crates hidden by her incompetent butler. But ultimately, the premise to story mode is to retrieve the Golden Carrot, which was stolen by Crowely-Mesmer.
While the game contains a variety of puzzles, the most interesting of them are ‘live’ switches. These live switches are nothing more than enemy worms that must be eliminated before any doors can be opened. The number of live switches available varies per level, and some of their locations can pose a problem (especially if you haven’t learned how to toss a grenade properly). Some live switches are placed inside granite, making it impossible for your worms to reach them. The best solution to this problem is to place dynamite by these ‘switches’ and allow the explosion to do the rest.
Battlegrounds uses a turn-based engine that works on a timer system. The worm currently in play can move freely through the level for a total of 59 seconds, until the timer reaches zero. Once the counter expires, the current turn will end and the next worm will be selected. This system creates a slow, but strategic experience that can be very rewarding.
The enemy AI (Artificial Intelligence) varies greatly between levels, and it’s not uncommon to see the CPU repeat the same mistakes during every turn. For example – some worms will spend every turn mindlessly firing their bazookas at the same impenetrable wall. This issue could easily be dismissed if the AI learned from its mistakes, but unfortunately it does not.
Once you have completed the twenty-five missions in story mode, there are ten Spec Ops missions which are training missions for the different items found throughout the game. This mode rates the player on a scale of three stars based on how quick and efficient they can clear the available courses.
Graphically, the game looks sharp in HD, but the lack of detail in most of the levels soften their overall impact. And since the Playstation 4 has the horsepower to generate incredibly detailed environments, it’s a shame that Team 17 didn’t take full advantage of the Playstation 4 hardware.
With that said, Worms Battlegrounds is a step in the right direction for Team 17’s turn-based strategy franchise. The large selection of customizable team options, along with story mode and its many local and multiplayer features, make this release a worthy purchase for any Playstation 4 gamer, especially if they haven’t played Worms Clan Wars. However, longtime fans of the series may find the lack of new content a bit disappointing, era-specific levels not withstanding.
Platform: Playstation 4 (Available on PSN)
Developer: Team 17
Publisher: Team 17
ESRB: E (Everyone)
|Sharp HD graphics that could have used more detail.|
|Classic worm sound effects abound.|
|The CPU in single-player may not always be the brightest, but the challenge it does offer makes story mode worth playing and it keeps you entertained.|
|While it doesn't provide anything new to the series, Worms Battlegrounds is still a worth-while investment.|