Since its debut in 1995, Worms has become one of gaming’s classic franchises. The Worms Collection is essentially a reminder of all that Team17 have achieved with the strategy/artillery series. Featuring the best of current-gen Worms games, this is the kind of content-heavy package that provides a cheap, easy way for people to find out what all the fuss is about.
There’s one major problem though: Worms is… well, Worms! Despite attempts by Team17 to shake up the formula, the gameplay mechanics on offer are very similar. You take four Worms into battle, launch rockets, grenades and more at enemy worms whilst trying to avoid opponent’s fire. That’s it. This is tried and tested, addictive gameplay that unfortunately offers very little variety.
The games included in this collection are Worms (a.k.a. Worms HD), the 2007 PSN/XBLA title, Worms 2: Armageddon, the sequel released in 2009, and Worms: Ultimate Mayhem, a graphically-enhanced downloadable re-release of 2005’s Worms 4: Mayhem, with Worms 3D missions mixed in. All of which are available individually on the downloadable stores. Worms and Worms 2: Armageddon can easily be spoken of in the same breath because of their similarities. Presenting themselves as classic throwbacks to the hugely-popular original formula, they present exactly what made this series popular.
Local and online multiplayer, customisable game modes and single-player campaigns mean there’s plenty of Worms on offer in just these two games alone. All of the titles downloadable-packs, which include things like new maps, really help justify the purchase.
Re-visiting these games was a lot of fun, as the gameplay is addictive, tense and thrilling, whilst the franchises humour and strong presentation really add to the experience. On your own Worms and Worms 2: Armageddon are enjoyable, but it’s the games multiplayer that’s truly in a league of its own.
Getting the trajectory of your bazooka missile just right to take out your real-life opponent’s worm is immensely satisfying. Not only is gameplay exciting but it’s also very tactical. Worms is all about positioning your worms to avoid enemy fire and choosing the right weapon from your massive plethora of options.
However despite the fun I had with Worms and Worms 2: Armageddon, it’s impossible to escape the fact that it all gets a little too familiar far too quickly. Worms 2: Armageddon is essentially an expansion of the first, trading actual changes to the gameplay formula with new maps, weapons and general content. There’s nothing wrong with a sequel adding rather than revolutionising, but the lack of variety on offer hurts the overall value of the Worms Collection.
Worms: Ultimate Mayhem is the curveball of the pack as it does drastically deviate from the classic Worms formula that featured in the collection’s other two titles. All of a sudden, you’re launching missiles in a full-fledged three-dimensional cartoon world. All of the previous conventions exist but they now no longer feature in 2D.
This introduces new tactical elements to what is otherwise standard Worms. While some of the good ideas do come across, it quickly becomes clear that the franchise doesn’t work nearly as well in all three dimensions. It’s a shame that an attempt to reinvigorate what otherwise was a seldom-changed formula hasn’t worked, but it’s the overriding feeling I got from playing Worms: Ultimate Mayhem.
The Worms Collection is therefore left in a strange place. Both Worms and Worms 2: Armageddon are enjoyable, with the sequel offering improvements that will have surely appeased fans when it was originally released. Worms: Ultimate Mayhem is fun enough, even if it lacks the charm of the other two games it shares a disc with.
The problem here is that the Worms Collection can’t really find a target market. Those looking to check out what Worms is all about would probably be better off downloading Worms 2: Armageddon separately instead of investing in the full-retail package. With no new content on offer, hardcore fans will probably have all the content downloaded already.
Playing through the Worms Collection is a lot of fun. There’s a reason Worms is an industry classic and it’s clearly evident here. That said, there isn’t really a purpose that the Worms Collection fulfils. Hardcore fans won’t find anything new here and the gameplay on offer is so similar that it’s difficult to recommend the package to newcomers.
Much like the childhood game of sardines, Team17 have crammed a hell of a lot into one small place. If Worms sounds like your cup of tea and you want to experience the classic franchise in all its forms the proper way, then by all means pick up the Worms Collection. Just don’t go expecting any great variation amongst the masses of content.