Worms Battle Islands review

Review of Worms Battle Islands video game for the PSP and Nintendo Wii rated 8 out of 10
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Back in 2008 my first review for Gamesweasel was Worms Open Warfare 2 for the DS. Now we’re heading into 2011 and it’s time for a review of the latest Worms game for PSP; Battle Islands. Now Worms is one of those game series that appears every couple of years without fail. Whilst it would be unfair to associate Worms with games that refresh every year such as Madden and Fifa, there is a noticeable similarity.

I’m no stranger to Worms, I played the original back in the glory days of the 1990′s and have spent time with many of the sequels since then. But it has to be said that as a series I feel development over the years has concentrated on refinement rather than innovation. Now that isn’t a necessarily bad thing, we all know that if something isn’t broken then it doesn’t need fixing right? Maybe it’s just me but every so often I think you need to risk breaking something to spark a bit of fresh creativity.

If you’re unfamiliar with Worms then you should probably read these next paragraphs because I’ll be explaining what the hell it’s actually about. You control a squad of four cartoon Worms that are armed to the teeth with cool weaponry and equipment. It just so happens that another batch of Worms controlled by the CPU (or another human) are littering the landscape. In a turn based battle it all comes down to urban warfare and strategy as you do your best to defeat the enemy Worms before they succeed in getting rid of you. I should just point out that whilst Worms can be played with more than two teams at once, traditionally the game focuses on a two players and so will I in this review.

The game plays out on distinctive and fanciful 2D landscapes that are made up of multiple areas, water pits and not forgetting those nooks and crannies we all love. Worms are quite small creatures and this results in the oversized landscape making a rather large yet rather unideal battle ground. Just because the Worms are agile doesn’t mean they can perform miracles, yes they can jump and back-flip but without some extra help they’ll never navigate the entire area without your help. Luckily you can make use of several interesting items such as Ninja Rope, Girders, Blow Torches and even a Teleporter to assist your Worms along the way.

Both teams’ Worms are scattered around the landscape fairly randomly meaning that some of them may be in the open and others may already be in cover. By default your Worms could be starting off in the safety of a cavern or dangerously close to the baddie Worms, this randomness forces you into offensive, defensive and counter offensive play right from the start - it’s exciting stuff.

Ah yes I should talk about those weapons a little before I stray too far from the topic. Your Worms have access to an arsenal of weaponry so vast that it would make the American military run home and cry. Everything from Bazookas to Sentry Guns are at your disposal and boy will you have fun exploring it all, just don’t forget that typically your opponent will have access to the same gear, so you’ll never have a walk in the park here.

So this is where you come in; can you turn your squad of Worms into the meanest bunch of killers or will you be beaten to a pulp?

Okay so first things first you need to name your Worms, if you’re going to send your troops into battle then the least you can do is give them an identity. Of course I named my Worms after the fab four; John, Paul George and Ringo. You can name them almost anything you like but I think choosing a good set of four monikers is vital if you want to bond with your Worms properly.

Next up comes the training missions, any veteran Worms player can skip these but if you’re a newbie these can be very useful in teaching you the basics. Not everyone can just launch a Hand Grenade into the air and expect it to land at their opponents feet without a bit of practice you know. You’ve got Wind and Gravity to take into account here, Issac Newton would be very proud I tell you.

So as I mentioned previously, Worms is a turn based game. Each Worm from both teams takes an alternate turn in moving and thus all power in relation to the game is possessed by the Worm currently in control. All other Worms are at risk of severe damage or even death unless they’re very well protected by the landscape. This is because many of the weapons in the game make it easier (but not very easy) to strike an opponent even if they are a great distance from your Worm. Many weapons including the Bazooka and Grenades can be launched quite long distances, not only that but Homing Missiles and Air-strikes can even be used with almost pin point precision upon the opposing force.

Your job is to strike hard but plan well enough ahead to not leave your Worms vulnerable to attack, in practice all seasoned Worms players (and the CPU) will have enough tricks up their sleeve to prevent many sleeper tactics but that doesn’t mean a good spot of defending won’t see dividends, just don’t expect to ever win a round without losing at least a couple of your troops that’s all. But is there anything new here in Battle Islands? Well yes thankfully Team 17 have put their minds together to slap a few new ideas here and there, let’s find out if they hit the mark or fall short of the target.

For starters let’s just get it out in the open that as a single player game, Worms has always been a bit hit or miss with me. There’s just never really been any point or story to the game up until now, so whilst that attracts a carefree pick up and play attitude, sometimes I need a goal or plot angle to keep interested long term. I’m not one of those people who can keep playing matches of Fifa against the robotic CPU for weeks and nor can I play Worms without something to aim for.

Battle Islands finally introduces a reason to play the game in single player. As the name suggests you will be battling over a series of Islands for World Worm dominance in the new Campaign mode - you’re not just playing a series of one off matches any more, this time you’re battling an opposing force that varies from Island to Island. Breaking these previously static Worms battles down into Islands (or stages) really makes a difference, you can attempt to conquer them in the order of your choosing and every five levels there is a Boss stage which throws a much tougher challenge your way.

Each island you battle on has a special crate with technology data inside, with this you can create your very own weapons to use against the enemy. In reality all you’re really doing is unlocking and customising previously locked weapons but the ability to change them to suit your own gameplay style is interesting.

The major new addition to the gameplay comes in the form of the War Room; this is an interesting menu system that appears before each battle starts and is a chance for you to gain an advantage over the other team(s). Here you have 60 seconds to do a number of small things that could very well put you in the driving seat. Let’s have a closer look at some of them;

  • Recon Landscape sends a UAV over the area and will show you where all the Worms will spawn.
  • Copy blueprints allows you to steal a custom item from one of the opposing teams.
  • Reveal info gives you more data on the strength and weaknesses of each Worm in your enemies squad.
  • Other abilities include the option to build a defensive tunnel, teleport your Worms into your ideal location and even drop a sentry gun onto the area. All very useful I must admit.

Now for me Worms has always been about the multiplayer, playing with real humans is just more fun and avoids all that hassle with super intelligent or super dumb artificial intelligence. There’s nothing quite like Worming away with your friends and Worms Battle Islands doesn’t let you us down here.

Those with friends locally can all play on the same PSP by swapping the device after each turn or if you have multiple PSP’s then you can play via local WiFi. Of course modern day gamers will expect online play and by golly it’s here. Just boot the game, choose the online versus and you can easily jump into a random 2 player game within seconds or go deeper into the options to setup a proper game between you and your mates. I’ve always preferred traditional death-match when it comes to Worms but for those with a little bit more adventure can partake in an exciting series of new game modes. Tactics, Racing, Triathlon and Forts.

So what have we learnt? Worms Battle Islands for PSP is fundamentally still Worms. The core game play is there and is as good as ever. Some new additions including a real single player campaign make the game much more attractive for those without that many friends. Multiplayer is still where it’s at and thankfully things have not been screwed up, Worms is as much fun to play as it’s ever been, and yes I’m blocking out the disaster that was Worms 3D.

Graphically Worms once again sticks to it’s core, very pretty cartoon graphics that don’t really push the system, they’re very cute and well animated. The explosion and water effects a especially nice but sometimes cause a bit of slowdown when you’re on the highest zoom setting - not sure if it’s a problem with the game or the PSP hardware showing it’s age but to be honest it’s not that noticeable most of the time. Audio wise Worms is mostly the same as it’s ever been, full of explosions and funny but repetitive voice acting.

Is Worms Battle Islands worth a purchase? Well if you’re a keen Worms player then chances are you already bought the game before thinking about reading reviews. Those new to Worms will be very suited to Battle Islands, especially the Wii version with a friendlier control scheme. I don’t think anyone who fancies a spot of action/strategy can go wrong with Worms, it’s easy to pick up and play and is is a great deal of fun with friends. Worms Battle Islands scores a very decent 8 out of 10.

Get Worms Battle Islands now
New: Buy Worms Battle Islands from Amazon.com

Worms Battle Islands review pics

Worms Battle Islands review screenshots

Related: Worms Open Warfare 2 for the DS, Worms Open Warfare 2 for the PSP

Buy now

Buy Worms Battle Islands from www.amazon.comWorms Battle Islands is now available for the PSP and Wii from www.amazon.com


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