Worms: Battle Islands Wii Review
Publisher – THQ – Developer – Team 17 – Genre – Strategy – Players – 1-4 – Age Rating – 12+ – Other console/handheld formats – PSP
Most new iterations in Team 17’s aging Worms franchise bring with them a wealthier range of customisation options and tweaks, but rarely much else in regards to freshness. Because of this they often feel more like expansions than true sequels.
Worms: Battle Islands doesn’t change this; it’s still the fifteen year old Worms formula. So it still sees cartoonish worms waging war on one another with crazy weapons in turn based combat. On a mechanical level, it’s just the same as any other 2D Worms game, so all the weapons react in much the same way as they always have and all the familiar tactics can be employed.
In regards to weapons and utilities, all the favourites are there and as usual, with 40 options to play with, you’re hardly short of options. Amongst them is the destructive Holy Hand Grenade of which can wipe out multiple worms, whilst the Kamikaze results in one of your worms sacrificing himself in order to damage an opponent. Less nasty, but equally useful, is the ninja rope, which allows you to quickly navigate the stage, and the physics of your worm swinging through the air remains just as satisfying as it always has.
It retains the series’ considerable charm too, so whilst the visuals aren’t technically impressive, they posses personality and comical animations. Worms still have plenty of high pitched vocal insults and retorts that still manage to raise a smile, even though a lot of it has been getting used for years now.
Being Worms, there’s undoubtedly a focus on the multiplayer side of things, but there’s still a fairly substantial single player campaign mode there, too. It consists of 30 stages taking place on six thematically contrasting islands, though the AI of your opponents remains inconsistent: on one turn perhaps amusingly blowing themselves to bits with their own grenades and in another instance throwing a grenade towards one of your worms from afar with an infuriating level of accuracy.
The biggest new addition that Worms: Battle Islands brings to the franchise is your battle island, of which is your base of operations. Through victories you’re able to upgrade it and, in the process, be rewarded with special pre-match abilities, for instance you’re able to place snipers and direct them to shoot one of the worms of your opponent, you can also parachute your invertebrates into any area of a stage you desire. Such abilities allow you to gain the advantage before a battle even begins, though it’s not a great feature and takes away from the purity of the game somewhat.
There’s also a puzzle mode, tasking you with having to overcome limitations and such to complete a stage. For instance, there’s a level where you’re not able to move, forcing you to skilfully use the wind to direct your bazooka shots to your opponents.
The single player options are adequate but could never match the immense enjoyment that Worms has always delivered when you take on a human opponent. It’s simply more fun when it’s human minds attempting to outwit each other. There’s both offline and online support, though sadly the online servers are a bit sparse at the moment.
There’s an impressive amount of customisation options to unlock along the way, which should please the many fans that enjoy this aspect of Worms. You can tweak the rules of matches; create your own team of worms, naming them, choosing their appearance, voices, victory animations and even the gravestones that mark their demise, amongst other things. It’s all enough to knock together a team that feels as if it’s your own.
With Worms: Battle Islands, we’re once again left with a game that is much the same as many other Worms game, but the amount of customization options and the tweaks assure that this is the finest iteration of Team 17’s series yet and for the many ardent fans that have stuck with the series since its inception, this will be more than ample. But if you’re looking for an overhaul of the franchise, you won’t find it here.