Worms Battle Islands Wii
Published by: THQ
Developed by: Team17 Software
After a dalliance with the world of 3D, the Worms series has returned to the 2D perspective and is all the better for it. That's not to say the 3D games weren't any good. In fact I quite enjoyed Worms 3D but in retrospect I think the pace of the game was slowed down and you had the extra hassle of dealing with the camera angles. This all served to make the game less accessible and no quite so suitable for the short quick fire battles that the series was known for. Back in the world of 2D however, the Worms series is really finding a return to form.
In case you haven't played a Worms title a little description is in order. Essentially the game is a turn-based battle game where you'll control a team of four worms that are battling against another team of four worms, usually in a destructible environment. What makes the game so good is its simplicity and the superb range of weapons and explosives at your disposal which range from the humble bazooka to the ever popular Holy Hand Grenade. The battles are fast paced and very addictive. You get sixty seconds to take your turn. After the battle has lasted for ten minutes, the water will begin to rise eventually forcing the end of the battle. Like all great games it's easy to play but mastering it is another matter. You'll have to deal with wind direction when aiming and your shot isn’t as simple as you might think at times. Whilst the game has always been fun to play against the AI it's at its best when playing against friends and it's no surprise the series has been very popular for years.
Worms Battle Islands has a generous collection of modes. You can take part in versus games for up to four players. Using the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection mode you can take on players from all around the world. If you’re not looking for human opposition there are training, campaign and puzzle missions to tackle. The only complaint I have about the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection mode is that it can be difficult to find players to play against due to very few players being online most of the time. In the campaign missions you'll go into enemy territory in order to defeat them and take control of their islands. There are six locations to visit: Nuclear Test Site, Jungle Outpost, Desert Installation, Arctic Station, Underwater Lab and Chemical Plant. Each of these locations has five islands and on the final island of each location you'll have to deal with a boss. With the boss defeated you'll claim possession of the whole location. If you fancy a change of pace you can attempt to solve some of the professor's puzzles which put you in a variety of situations that will test your skills.
You'll begin by selecting a nickname, naming the four worms in your team and choosing an island as a base of operations. Playing ranked games online (there are five game modes to play online too including Tactics, Forts, Deathmatch, Racing and Triathlon) will allow you to increase the size of your island. Once you're done you're given the opportunity to take a tutorial. If you're a Worms veteran you might be tempted to skip the tutorials but it's worth playing through just to get to grips with the control system and you'll also gain experience for completing the tutorials.
In campaign and tactics missions you'll have access to a War Room. You'll have 60 seconds to plan the impending battle. It allows you to recon the landscape, collect information on your opponent and do other things to prepare yourself or disorganise your opponent prior to the start of a battle. You can only use an ability once per battle however and with the sixty second time limit you won't have time to do everything in preparation for the battle. You'll also find a ranking system in place and you'll earn experience when playing the game. As you increase in rank you'll gain access to items that are initially locked which gives you more incentive to play the various modes in order to gain experience points.
The game does support motion controls but by default these are disabled. This is for a good reason because the motion controls are far from being the best control scheme on offer here. By default you'll only use the Wii remote by turning it on its side and holding it as though it were a basic controller from yesteryear. This is easily the best control scheme on offer as it's the most intuitive and takes only moments to get to grips with.
The game retains the familiar cartoon style of the previous games in the series. The visuals are simplistic but charming nevertheless and will definitely please fans of the series. There's a noticeable loss of detail when zoomed out but this is unsurprising given the low resolution the Wii console displays at. There aren't any cut scenes in the game which seems a little odd as the series is known for providing quite humorous ones.
Worms Battle Islands won't cause deaf gamers any problems. All of the crucial information is given in text only. Even the game's tutorials are text only and you'll have no problems learning how to play the game. All briefings and puzzle instructions are given in text so you'll always be aware of what needs to be done. The only speech in the game that isn't subtitled are the comments made by the worms during the course of a battle. These only have comic value however and are of no importance.
If you consider yourself to be a fan of the Worms series and own a Wii console then Worms Battle Islands is an essential purchase. The game is available at just under £12 at the time of writing if purchasing online and at that price it has to be one of the best gaming bargains of the year. It's a shame that so few are playing the game online however and the motion controls are worth avoiding but in every other respect the game is very impressive and one that every fan of the series should get their hands on.