Worms: Battlegrounds chooses to completely ignore the modernity of the current generation of consoles, and for many, that’ll be a refreshing change of pace. However, when a game makes twenty seconds feel like a lifetime, slow-paced becomes boring and that’s not a good thing. That’s Worms: Battlegrounds biggest issue: it’s a throwback, for better or worse.
For those unfamiliar with the series, Worms: Battlegrounds is a 2-D side-scrolling, turn-based battle game. Players are given 60 seconds to maneuver an army of worms and attack their rival worms using various weaponry, ranging from standard guns (shotguns) to crazy sci-fi abilities (telepathy). The variance in how you dispose of your foes is very exciting and the game rarely requires the use of a specific tool. You could choose to use a charging sheep that’ll blow up a group of worms, or you could shoot a rocket launcher towards them. Having that sort of freedom is nice, though rarely rewarding as many times missions start you out with completely different weapons.
The campaign, though short, is fairly entertaining. Team17 has done what they can to shoehorn in a story through voice overs and text. A lack of cut scenes goes mostly unnoticed thanks to some really great voice over work and witty dialogue. Worms: Battlegrounds pokes fun at the Tomb Raider series often, as the entire game takes place in a museum. Katherine Parkinson, who fans will recognize as Jen from BBC’s The IT Crowd, voices the narration as an English “tomb raider” of sorts who constantly brags about blowing up ancient fortresses and burning down museum exhibits. The game’s villain has stolen some mystical carrot which gives him the power to control the villain worms. The comedy is all very silly, but at the end of the day, very light and fun and pushes the game along nicely. The worms’ dialogue is also very cute and funny, and mixes cartoonish cuteness with ultra-violence (worms don’t die from your attacks, they commit suicide once their health is at zero).
Unfortunately the game’s personality can only push it’s entertainment value so far. Combat is sluggish and very basis for the game’s combat (turned-based) often brought the game to a halt as the AI prepared their move. Sometimes I found myself staring at the screen for 20 or 30 seconds before the AI chose it’s attack. To make matters worse, if you had to retry the entire level, you’d have to sit through the enemy’s delayed decision-making process. Once or twice, this could be forgivable, but after the 12th or 13th time, it grows easier and easier to put down the controller and play something else. The ability to fast-forward through the enemy’s turn would’ve been much appreciated.
In addition to Worms: Battlegrounds’ story mode, there’s a time-based mode called “Worm-Ops” missions. These missions are a play on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and 3‘s Spec-ops missions, requiring the player to accomplish a specific task in a given amount of time. These act as little more than filler and don’t seem to have much direction on Team17’s part.
Every aspect of Worms: Battlegrounds feels like it’s targeting a very specific niche market, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But it will never feel like a major success to most people that will pick it up and play it.