Ever since the big jump from 2D to 3D, favorite franchises have been trying to make the transition without sacrificing the core, the heart, of what made their games great in two dimensions. Some have been more successful than others. Thankfully, Team17 seems to have taken a long, hard look at what made Worms the multi-million selling series that it is and put in the effort required to make a quite treacherous (but rewarding) leap to the third dimension.
On all platforms, the basic premise is the same: Missions and challenges are offered for solo players, and a freakishly robust customization system is supplied for multiplayer addicts that want to blow each other up. But that doesn't answer the biggest question – what is the strategy classic actually like in this brave new world? Refreshingly, and stunningly, it remains largely the same.
Sure, there are a few complications. Namely, the jumping and some weapons are problematic. It's hard to predict where Worms will be able to jump because they are easily caught on lips or ledges that players cannot see. A little fiddling generally alleviates the problem, but it is a frustrating hurdle (no pun intended) worth mentioning. Secondly, predicting the arc of favorite weapons like the bazooka and grenades is harder in this iteration. Although the game offers multiple camera angles (first person, a player-controlled isometric default view, and a blimp cam to display the bigger picture), it's still hard to determine where a hand-thrown cluster bomb is actually going to end up. A simple camera view to show the profile of your soldier would have helped immensely, but alas, it's not in there.
Despite these growing pains, Worms is still done so well that old fans will feel comfortably at home. Team17's ambitious move to 3D keeps the series' trademark unhinged reaction shots, off-kilter weapons (a crazed elderly lady is one), hilarious mini-cutscenes, and in-depth strategy action. What the new game format does offer, and the developers have taken great advantage of it, is the option to create really interesting vertical levels that require strategy, timing, and forward thinking – everything that a great turn-based game should force you to do.
Multiplayer is well executed in each version, but online options are only offered for the Xbox and PC flavors. That said, Worms 3D is just as addictive as its predecessors, but features more thoughtful challenges and conquests. Pick this up, and you'll be throwing down with your friends for years to come, and it's not often that you can say that about a console strategy title.
Really, the four versions of Worms 3D that we reviewed fall into two groups; the PS2 and GC versions are nearly identical, and the PC and Xbox versions can handily be lumped together. Options one (PS2 and GC) have muddier graphics that seem to complicate the jumping and aiming issues more than the superior group B (populated by the PC and Xbox editions). Besides better graphical clairty, these last two versions have smoother controls and what many people would consider obligatory online options. Playing against Worms-captains around the world (or around your office) puts the Xbox and PC versions on the top of the stack.
Really, truly update the Worms franchise by sticking the buggers into a 3D environment
Exaggerated comic style that perfectly captures and improves on the earlier editions
Funny blips and burps from your charges, opponents, and weapons
It's a wonderfully executed jump to 3D, but some minor complications arise
This is everything that Worms fans have appreciated about the series
Rated: 8 out of 10
Editor: Lisa Mason
Issue: March 2004
I remember the days when I didn't dread seeing my favorite game franchises move to 3D. Worms, in its original form, was a game all about blowing things up with ridiculous weapons. Worms 3D takes that simple, ingenious concept and tinkers with it, resulting in a lot of litter that clutters up the experience. Sure, it has all the humor, heavy weaponry, and carnage that made previous Worms titles unique, but the enjoyment of those elements is diluted by problems like unspeakably annoying platformer-esque missions, and terrible camera work with no zoom control. And if you thought the ninja rope was tough to use before, just wait until you try it now. If you're hungry for Worms-related mayhem, this game is adequate; but if you want one with all of the fun and none of the fat, leave Worms 3D alone and pick up Worms Armageddon for the PC.
Rated: 7 out of 10
Editor: Joe Juba
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