Worms for Android: “Excellent” or “Stuuu-pid”?

The Worms game series, with its turn-based 2D gameplay and hyper-destructive warfare, is amongst the most famous and popular ever created on PC or console; most people have played it at some point in their lives. But how well does the sixteen-year-old series adapt to small screens and touch controls? Read on for the full review!

Familiar to the Fans?

I suppose the first stop in this review should be pointing out how the Android version compares to the PC and console versions we all grew to love over the years.

All of the classic weapons and tools are included, for example the bazooka, cluster bomb, holy hand grenade, homing missile, banana bomb, ninja rope, teleport, and the Super Sheep!

The level generation, style, and items should also feel familiar. Occasionally health and weapon crates fall from the heavens to help whichever team manages to grab them. Mines are also laid across the terrain; in custom games the crate drop rate and amount of mines in the game can be set to low, medium, or high. The destructible terrain is also included, as well as the famous Worms voices. Sadly I haven’t heard my favourite clip (“Incoming!”), but others are definitely there in its place.

Some gameplay!

These are all the weapons you can use in Worms for Android. Some favourites are definitely in there.

Controls

Before downloading the game I flicked through the Android Market reviews, and was surprised to see a bunch of 2 star or 3 star ratings. Each time the main complaint was the control system, so when I downloaded the game I was anticipating having to put in a load of effort to understand how to make my worms move and fire.

After running through the game’s help section and having a little guided tutorial, I had no problems. I think the controls are great considering that most devices only have a touchscreen for input, and no hardware tactile keys like a Playstation, DS, or Computer.

To be frank, I expect the complaints on Android Market were from the sort of people who are too lazy to learn a control system or expect it to be perfect first time round -and if it isn’t they instantly growl and leave poor reviews. I ask that you ignore them and trust me instead. A great job has been done.

Single Player

Several game types have been incorporated into the Single Player mode. If you want a quick match, just select a difficulty level, and you’ll be dropped into a game versus the computer, with all of the map settings chosen randomly for you.

Alternatively you can run a Practice Match: in this mode you are given unlimited uses of all the weapons available in the game, and the enemy worms will not attack you at all. In this mode you can select the landscape style, crate rate, and amount of mines as well.

In Body Count mode you get awarded points based on how many kills you perform. The enemy worms are replaced every now and then, though. This is a ‘how long can you last’ game type. The higher your kill score, the better you did! Your high scores are saved each time, so you have to strategize and take precautions more and more if you intend to best your previous score.

The Challenges game type is a simple set of increasingly difficult games you unlock one after the other. Your unlock progress is saved, so you don’t need to start over each time.

I like how different game styles have been included; it helps to ensure that the game doesn’t get repetitive or boring. If you get bored of one game style, next time you play you can switch to another.

Multiplayer

I got quite excited when I saw this option on the main menu. The idea of being able to play Worms online with other people was fantastic. However I was soon disappointed! The ‘Multiplayer’ mode is where you can add both Computer and ‘Human’ players. Sadly ‘Human’ players need to be sat next to you, so you can pass your phone to them.

This is still a good feature of course, since bus, car, and plane trips now have the bonus of Worms games!. I know that Worms versions on platforms like the Nintendo DS also had a ‘pass the parcel’ multiplayer feature. Still, you might have thought that, on Android, networked multiplayer may have been implemented. No such luck I am afraid.

WarGames fans may be interested to know that you can make the phone play itself.

License Issue

Another issue I found in the game is that it often likes to ping back over the ‘net somewhere to do a license check. This annoys me immensely. If I am on GPRS or in any area with weak internet, the game refuses start up and hangs on the mini-credits or loading screen. On WiFi or 3G this is unnoticeable, and on Edge or HSPDA it takes about 15 seconds. Still, why should the game need to ping back to do a license check. I bought it, didn’t I?

This license check process seems unnecessary

Performance

I think that Worms requires less powerful hardware than one may suspect. Devices similar in specification to the HTC Desire should be fine to run this game. Smaller or less powerful devices wouldn’t get a great experience.

However, I must extend a warning to tablet users! My Eee Pad-wielding cousin informs me that Worms was very buggy for him, and wouldn’t perform the initial in-app game content download. Some Samung Galaxy Tab users have complained in the Android Market review thread too. I have been informed it is a Honeycomb problem, so if you have a Honeycomb tablet I wouldn’t risk it.

Concluding Thoughts

My thoughts on this game? Fantastic! EA and Team17 have done a really great job here. If you are a fan of the Worms series or like turn-based strategy games in general, I suggest you go and download this. For 59 pence you are hardly risking much loss. Sacrifice the cookie with your Starbucks, and have this game accompany your coffee instead.

(Editor’s Note: The price has since risen to £1.39 – that’s still pretty cheap!)

The Appstorm rating? A proud 9/10! The little niggles such as the lack of internet multiplayer and the license issue only come together to deduct one point from this game. If multiplayer was across the web then I would have decided upon 10/10 instantly. I hope that this is a feature EA and Team17 work to implement.


Summary

A turn-based strategy game in which players fire a variety of crazy weapons at each other to eliminate the enemy.

9