Amazingly enough, Worms: Reloaded is Worms. Do you like Worms? It's Worms! You don't like Worms? Move along, it's just Worms. They may be higher resolution than they were back in the 90s, the backgrounds a little more interesting, and the weapons more explosive, but at heart this is exactly the same turn-based war of bazooka-wielding annelids we saw in 1995, 1998, and every other Worms game ever, ignoring the series' brief jump into 3D back in 2003. It's also much the same game as last year's Worms 2: Armageddon over in Xbox 360 land, albeit with a few more toys thrown in.
Most games would struggle to keep going so long without radical changes, but Worms constantly manages to get away with it. As Worms 3D proved, it isn't a template that benefits from too much messing around, and it never takes long to get hooked into the fun of blowing away enemies with a perfectly arced bazooka shell, or roping onto a cliff and giving an enemy's last worm a humiliating poke into the nearest ocean. Reloaded's new features build on that rather than reinventing it, offering new features like vertical maps, fighting atop open-air forts, and a dull Ninja Rope race mode.
Hardcore purists will chafe at specific balancing changes, notably the feel and physics of the Ninja Rope and only getting four worms per team. For everyone else, the biggest shift is the addition of more defensive weapons: Sentry Guns to help lock down parts of the map, and Electromagnets that deflect incoming attacks. These turn Worms into a slightly more tactical game, but somewhat spoil the purity of simply trading shots. If you like them, or the other, sillier new weapons, hurrah. If not, at least you can switch them off in the comprehensive but oddly clunky ruleset editor.
Any changes to the single-player game are less interesting, mostly because single-player Worms is as pointless as Strip Solitaire in a nudist colony. You get escalating deathmatches, a campaign that does a reasonable job of breaking up the action with puzzle maps and interestingly asymmetric teams, a one-worm army survival mode, and plenty of other options, but none of them are much fun thanks to the ridiculously bipolar AI. One minute it's pulling off mathematically impossible trickshots, the next it's shooting up the scenery or committing suicide-by-mine. At best, it's dull as paste.
Multiplayer is firmly where it's at though, and aside from a few mid-game syncing issues, a ridiculously oversized UI and some issues finding public games in the server browser that will hopefully be patched this side of soon (check the official forums for updates), Worms remains as great as ever. It's a simple, beautiful game, and while you may wince at paying for it yet
, Reloaded is a great version that will have fans and new players alike falling back under the spell of the spineless ones.
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