STAFF REVIEW of Worms Collection (Xbox 360)

Thursday, June 6, 2013.
by Adam Dileva

Worms Collection Box art Before my days of being addicted to MMO’s, there was a different game that I would play seemingly play for hours on end without moving, simply staring at the screen and trying to become better. That game for me was Worms when it was released way back in 1995 on the Amiga and PC (though I can’t seem to recall what I initially played it on or how I came across the game). Point is, I still remember that very first time I played Worms and becoming instantly hooked. Since then, Team 17 has always been one of my fondest developers simply because I’ve been such a big fan of their Worms series ever since.

Team 17 has released a disc package of most of the Xbox Live Arcade Worms titles, aptly dubbed The Worms Collection. On the disc you’ll receive Worms, Worms 2: Armageddon (along with all of the DLC), and Worms: Ultimate Mayhem (which is essentially a mix of Worms 3D and Worms 4 mixed together). While having multiple titles and DLC on the disc is a nice inclusion, the best of the three titles is Worms 2: Armageddon by far, as it’s vastly superior to Worms, and Worms: Ultimate Mayhem isn’t the classic Worms gameplay we’ve come to love over the years due to its 3D nature, but more on that later.

For those unfamiliar with the Worms series, the general concept is that teams take turns firing artillery at their enemies until there’s only one victor remaining. You have a set amount of time to take your turn, so you must decide where to move, what weapons to use, and how to compensate for the wind with your fire (generally). On the surface it may seem very simple in theory, but play against someone that knows their Worms weaponry and gameplay and it’s a whole other level of strategy. While most new players will gravitate towards the tried and true bazooka and grenades for their damage dealing, things become much more interesting when you start to learn the more unique and wacky arsenal choices such as the Holy Hand Grenade, Flying Sheep, and the iconic Banana Bombs.

Worms is played on a 2D landscape (aside from the Ultimate Mayhem title included) that can drastically vary in size and shape. Weapons that explode will cause the terrain to deform, drastically changing yours and your opponents’ strategy quite often. You can choose to play against the AI or even against other players, all with colorfully voiced and drawn worms as your soldiers. I’m sure if you’ve never seen or heard of the game, this probably sounds quite odd, but just go with it, as it’s a lot of fun when you start to learn the intricacies of the series. The last team standing is a victor and then you’ll load up another match and continue on playing.

The first title included in The Worms Collection will have to be the first one that was released on Xbox Live Arcade back in 2007, simply named Worms (with a cost of 400 Microsoft Points on Xbox Live Arcade separately on its own). This was essentially an HD remake of the 1995 classic and I was truly excited to finally get to play some Worms on my 360 when this came out. You can start out with some Challenges or jump into a quick game that randomizes the landscape and enemy placement. In Worms there weren’t very many challenges, and while you will get stuck on a few of the more difficult ones, once they’re complete, there’s not much else to do so single player other than play Quick Start matches on varying difficulties that range from Beginner, to Intermediate, to Pro. This is where Worms’ multiplayer comes in, and while you can play four players locally, you can also play on Xbox Live against other players as well. Worms gameplay thrives on playing other similarly skilled human opponents, and if you manage to find a game online against other players (as it is quite old and not many people seem to play any longer), you’ll have a wonderful time online testing your strategy against theirs.

Next up that’s included on the disc is Worms: Ultimate Mayhem, which will normally set you back 800 Microsoft Points if you were you purchase it separately. Originally released on Xbox Live Arcade back in 2011, it’s the only 3D title in this compilation, but for good reason. Ultimate Mayhem is essentially a gameplay hybrid of Worms 3D and Worms 4, trying to fuse the two together, but never pulling it off well at all. The core Worms experience has always been on a 2D playing field, but once it transitioned to 3D, it just never seemed to work too well. You navigate in 3D, have a radar of where enemies and items are, but the controls are very sluggish and poorly responsive at the best of times. Coupled with absurdly long loading times and you’re not going to have a very positive Worms experience with Ultimate Mayhem. Maybe it’s the old school Worm’er in me talking, but the transition to 3D just never did well (which is probably why it never really spawned any sequels) to play into the game’s strengths.

I applaud Team 17 for trying to make the 3D version work, as they did add a story mode, though there’s no real reason for it, as Worm’s players want to simply play the game and shoot enemy worms. Challenges return but many feel like they are simply Time Attack versions of pieces of the Campaign rather than the standard deathmatch style of setup. Complete these though and you’ll earn coins which can be used to purchase new costume pieces, weapons, maps, sound banks, and more. It’s a shame the 3D version never really worked out, but with poor controls, mechanics, and a bland visual style that doesn’t even look as good as the 2D worms, it really surprises me that this game is included on the collection rather than a better choice that’s available.

Finally we have the last Worms title that’s included in this collection; Worms 2: Armageddon, not to be confused with the 1999 PC game Worms Armageddon. Purchasing this regularly on Xbox Live Arcade will set you back 400 Microsoft Points and it was originally released back in 2009. After all these years and even two newer releases on XBLA, Worms 2: Armageddon is still the go-to Worms experience on the Xbox 360 in my opinion (even mores o than the newer 2012 Worms: Revolution) by far. Armageddon simply has the most content packed with the best classic gameplay on the console, though many extra DLC packs have been included in The Worms Collection as well.

The Retro Pack (normally 320 Microsoft Points) adds twenty extra single player missions that have been handpicked from the classic Worms: Armageddon along with new hats and other items to go along with five more achievements. The Mayhem Pack (which is free) adds new landscape themes, hats, speech banks, gravestones, and more. The Time Attack Pack (normally 320 Microsoft Points) focuses on time based challenges that will have you using your jetpack and ninja rope skills as frantically as possible. This pack also contains the standard set of new hats, gravestones, speech bank and landscape theme.

The Forts Pack (normally 320 Microsoft Points) adds another handful of single player levels with more reliance on the fort variant of gameplay. As always, new hats, speech banks, gravestones, and fort landscapes are included in this pack as well. The Puzzle Pack (also normally 320 Microsoft Points) features more single player missions but with a much more difficult puzzle element to them (to coincide with the standard other extras like hats, etc). The final DLC pack included is the largest, and best valued offering, The Battle Pack (normally 400 Microsoft Points). This DLC not only adds a massive 30 missions, but 6 new and unique weapons (that I’m still getting used to), new forts, speech banks, player titles, and even game modes. While normally I’d never purchase DLC that’s as expensive as the game itself, it’s included in The Worms Collection disc and is the best DLC offering Team 17 has had.

With Worms 2: Armageddon being the best of the Worms titles on the disc, the inclusion of all of the DLC packs is quite impressive and will keep you busy and entertained for quite some time with all the extra offerings. Just like Worms, Armageddon offers a campaign mode instead of it being title challenges, though these are much more fun and entertaining. Most missions will have you trying to defeat the enemy teams, but every now and then there’s a level thrown in that’s very different to break up the monotony. One for example has you needing to reach the end of the level with just a jet pack before time runs out, or by doing it with just a ninja rope. While campaign doesn’t have a story, it doesn’t need to and even without all the DLC additions, the missions here will keep you busy for a long time to come. Like Ultimate Mayhem, you earn gold coins for completing missions which you can then spend in the shop to unlock extra and bonus items for your worms. Again, online multiplayer is what will keep you coming back and back again, though even these days it seems difficult to find a match sadly. Of all three Worms titles included on disc, this is really the only one you’ll need to play as it’s the smoothest and more complete Worms experience there is on the Xbox 360.

While I’m one of the biggest Worms fans out there, I do have a few gripes with this Worms Collection that need to be pointed out. Firstly, when you boot up the game disc, you’re disconnected from Xbox Live until you launch one of the games from the disc. Also, it allows you to install the Armageddon DLC, but for the games you need to run them off the disc. In all honesty, Ultimate Mayhem shouldn’t be on this collection, as it’s just not that good of a game. Team 17 tried going the 3D route but it just didn’t work and I was confused to why that game was on the disc, but the newer 2012 Worms game Revolution wasn’t. The last issue I have is about the pricing; while it’s a budget title in stores at $29.99 MSRP, and technically you are saving money as buying all the games and DLC normally would set you back over $40, there’s no reason to play Ultimate Mayhem (for reasons explained above) or Worms, since Armageddon is also included and the vastly superior game.

Taking that into account, you are saving money if you don’t already own the games from Xbox Live Arcade, Worms 2: Armageddon and all of the DLC bought separately adds up to roughly $20, so you can see where I take issue with the disc’s pricing. That being said, being the massive Worms fan I am, I can definitely recommend The Worms Collection since you do get Worms and Worms: Armageddon; let’s just pretend Ultimate Mayhem isn’t here or happened and you won’t be disappointed. Now go shoot some zooks and ninja rope outa here to get your copy.

Overall: 7.6 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.5 / 10
Sound: 7.5 / 10


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