Worms Battle Islands Wii, PSP Review

Worms is something we as gamers are all familiar with, though not the bacterial affliction I should hope. I am of course referring to the computer game, the one that initally graced us in the mid-nineties with its insanely addictive though rather simple premise. There is an island, randomly generated, and there are various obstacles such as mines, explosive oil drums and a variety of pick-ups and power-ups. This island is populated with the often precarious placing of the aforementioned worms of which there are four per team. The aim of the game is to blow the other team of worms into oblivion, or poke them over the edge of a cliff to their impending doom, all the while your face lighting up with glee at the violence you have wrought.

Worms: Battle Islands was released late last year for the Wii and PSP, and despite being the newest game in the Worms franchise, the format has barely changed since all those years ago. Apart from the odd power-up and introduction of new abilities, the game barely makes a leap past Worms: Armageddon, which in my opinion was the peak of the series.

Battle Islands does exactly what it says on the box – it’s a series of islands upon which you have battles; see where I’m going here? On each of these islands are set objectives and you have a certain amount of weapons and tools in your inventory depending on what you picked up on the previous island. After conquering each island you move on to the next section, upon where you wage war in a slightly different set of battle conditions on another themed level. A great feature of the Wii version is the support for Nintendo Wi-Fi connection, enabling you to create a multiplayer match with fellow gamers from around the world, should you so choose. This feature is a welcome addition to the game and adds greatly to the longevity.

Visually not much has changed from the earlier days of the Worms universe; it’s still 2D, it still operates as a side-scroller (in a sense) and it’s still pretty in its own stylised way. The difference between the Wii and the PSP version of the game is quite shocking in its contrasting visuals, the PSP version is by far the better looking version with the game. The pastel shades and cartoon-esque art doesn’t quite cut-it on the Wii version, with little done to spruce up the visuals for the bigger screen. When pushed, the Wii can churn out some beautiful visuals, but sadly the Wii version of Worms: Battle Islands is a game which although functional is at the same time both passable and uninspired, lacking the vibrancy of its PSP counterpart.

Moving on from the somewhat lacklustre aesthetics of the game, the  Audio is essentially the same as all the other Worms games to date. To be fair it doesn’t need changing, it’s not as though surround-sound is going to make a huge difference when coupled with the 2D visuals. Simple melodies are looped throughout, but given the game’s nature – sticking your own music on in the background hardly detracts from the experience. Loading times are at least bearable on the Wii, whereas they’re a bit of a slog on the PSP; some of the levels can take up to 45 seconds to load.

The most important factor is whether the gameplay still stands up to Worms of old. You’ll be relieved to know that other than the addition of the battle islands, it seems as though nothing has changed. If you’re a Worms fan and series follower you’ll know that the gameplay hasn’t drastically changed in any of the previous iterations. Controls for the game on both formats are as simple to pick up as they always have been, and anybody will be able to play within five minutes of starting the game.

You can only stretch a worm so far before it snaps; this hasn’t yet been the full demise of the Worms series, but it is pretty close now. Team 17 would be well advised to take an extended break from this game and try their hands at something fresh, new and ubiquitous. Worms: Battle Islands is fun, but it’s not long before it’s relegated to the odd party game and the occasional commute.

6 out of 10
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