At a glance...

Reviewer Platform Publisher Developer Players Screenshots
Dave Wickham Wii THQ Team17 1-4 (Online) Here
Requirements Also on... Buy from Amazon.co.uk
None PSP Click here to buy Worms: Battle Islands.

Worms: Battle Islands review

So. Worms. If you've never played any of the iterations of the series in the 16 years since the original, then perhaps you might want to read one of our reviews of the various releases. It's a classic tale of the tragedy of war; innocent worms being set against one another, forced to stand still whilst banana bombs rain down from above, flying sheep being fitted with explosives... on the other hand, it's also pretty fun.

As with other recent Worms games, Worms: Battle Islands sports the classic 2D worm-on-worm battle action - Team17's brief dabble with 3D worlds ended 6 years ago with Worms 4: Mayhem. Whilst Worms 4 was fun, the added dimension gave that much more complexity to the game; the good old two-dimensional view gives you a game that can be quickly picked up and played when you've got a few friends round.

Worms continues to be a game about blowing everyone else up.

Worms continues to be a game about blowing everyone else up.

Though Worms is generally more fun in multiplayer with friends, Battle Islands does bring some single player options to the table. You've got a couple of ways to play by yourself (excluding the standard "multiplayer with bots" games and the tutorial), and these are the campaign and puzzle modes. First up, campaign mode; this sees you going through six different environments, most of them altering gameplay in some way (for example, in the underwater environment you can jump a lot further and projectiles travel more slowly). Each environment then has four islands you must conquer (by playing a normal game of Worms), and then there's a tougher boss you must beat. These boss stages generally manifest themselves in the form of one powerful enemy worm in a hazardous environment that you must successfully defeat by figuring out the way to cause enough damage without having your worms killed first; this can be really quite frustrating until you finally figure out the way to do it.

The other choice, puzzle mode, follows campaign mode in that it also divides its stages into sets of five islands, with each set increasing in difficulty. Each island is a puzzle, which puts you in a scenario where you must kill enemy worms or get to a finish line to clear it. Doesn't sound very puzzling yet, I know, but there are also severe restrictions placed on what you can do. In some you'll be stuck in one place. In others you'll only have a jet pack and some well-positioned mines. And in others still, you'll be given a task which would be easy, were it not for the fact that your worms have only a single health point. These can get a bit frustrating if you're stuck on them, but thankfully once you've unlocked a set of five you can play any of them from that set, so you can go and do another one and come back to it later.

So, now we've covered the single player, how about the core of the game - the multiplayer. Well, you've got a few options - there's Deathmatch, Tactics, Forts, Race, and Triathlon. Deathmatch is just Traditional Worms - up to 4 teams of worms fighting against one another. Tactics is Deathmatch, but with the interesting twist of being able to use some, well, tactics in the "war room" before the game has started. For example, you can survey the battleground, change where your worms will start, hit an opposing worm with a sniper, and several other similar tactical options. Forts is a 2 player game where the two teams are on different land masses, requiring greater long-range accuracy, Race is, well, a race using either jetpacks or ropes, and Triathlon is a best-of-three of Deathmatch, Forts, and Race. Theoretically, all of the multiplayer game modes can be played online via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, however I never had any luck with anything apart from Deathmatch, which is a shame, as one of the features of Tactics mode is supposedly the ability to take one of another player's war room abilities if you defeat them. On the plus side though, I did never have to wait long for Deathmatch, and it was enjoyable online.

You can create your own custom levels to cause havoc in

You can create your own custom levels to cause havoc in

It's probably worth mentioning that Worms: Battle Island was originally going to be a WiiWare game. Whilst this shouldn't make much difference to the final product, it definitely does feel as if Team17 were trying to keep the size down in several areas. One of the most obvious issues is that of highly repetitive speech banks; it starts to grate after a while when you hear the same phrase every couple of turns. Another one that's not immediately noticeable is the presence of just one piece of background music. The last thing I'll mention is the lack of FMV; whilst not immediately noticeable, the FMV in Worms has just given it that extra bit of character since the original, and it is present in the PSP release. These aren't too major, but it would've been nice if they'd made use of the extra space (and development time) available to pack some more variety in and add some more polish.

But still, enough complaining - one place where there is variety is with customization. You can change quite a few things in the game; you can change your worms' names, their voice bank, their headwear, their gravestones, their victory dances... and I'm going to stop listing everything you can change before I bore you. You've also got a weapon builder, which lets you combine various weapon properties (damage, sensitivity to wind, and so on) to build your own custom weapon, although unfortunately there's not enough choice to let you create the Bog Bomber. Finally there's the level creator, which is a bit fiddly as it uses the Wiimote to draw bits of land and place items.

We were sad not to be able to recreate the Bog Bomber

We were sad not to be able to recreate the Bog Bomber

There are a couple of ways to gain customizations. For building weapons, each stage in the campaign mode has a "blueprint crate" to collect, which gives you an extra option - you might be able to give an air strike weapon a bigger bang, for example. In order to get the other customizations, to change the appearance and behaviour of your team, you must level up. That's right, Worms has experience points. If you win a game, be it multiplayer, campaign or puzzle, then you gain XP, and when you level up you get some new customizable goodness. The first time I played a round I levelled up and got a hat. I thought I was in Team Fortress 2.

Ultimately, coming to the end of my review, Worms is one of those games where it's difficult to rate it. There's really not all that much that can be added to the formula. If you already own a Worms game on a system you can easily use, then it's going to be a hard sell. Most of the fun is in multiplayer, and that just doesn't change that much. Sure, there's the addition of new gameplay modes such as Tactics, but whether this is worth the twenty quid RRP is debatable. On the other hand, if you don't already have a modern Worms, but you enjoy the gameplay, and you also want a fun multiplayer game to add to your repertoire, then it's definitely worth getting.

Ratings

Overall It's Worms, it's fun, it could have had a bit more polish after being moved from WiiWare. If you don't have a Worms game already, get it. If you do, you're probably not going to get that much more enjoyment out of it. 7/10

Click here to buy Worms: Battle Islands from Amazon.co.uk.

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