Version Reviewed: 1.0
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Game Controls Rating:
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Worms, the insanely popular game from Team17, has been ported to just about every popular gaming platform. So with their experience with porting, Team17 should produce a fantastic version of Worms for the iPhone, right? Well, sadly that logic doesn't hold up here, as Worms for the iPhone is nothing more than a subpar port of a great game.
Worms is a turn-based artillery combat game. Each turn is strictly timed, and consists of moving (usually laterally with small jumps), using a weapon, and then a brief retreat time. Also available for movement, at times, are the jetpack and famous ninja rope. A turn ends after the firing of a weapon or if you manage to damage your own worm. One of the big strengths of Worms is the large selection of weapons. Weapons are incredibly varied and each is truly unique. There are the standard weapons - the bazooka and grenade, and then the not-so-standard ones, such as the sheep or the holy grenade. There can be up to four teams at once, with four worms on each team. Turns cycle in order between teams, and also between Worms on a team. To make things more difficult, the terrain is littered with obstacles, mines, and explosive barrels. Occasionally health, weapon, and utility crates are dropped from the sky. With all the gameplay elements, Worms can quickly become frantic and chaotic, as chain reactions and the like are commonplace.
The initial release of Worms contains only three main game modes: quick play, challenges, and "hot-seat" multiplayer. Quick play, as the name would suggest, throws you into a game on a randomly generated map against an easy, normal, or hard AI. The random maps are a nice feature and add some replay value. Challenge mode consists of 50 completely predetermined levels, ranging from extremely easy to very difficult. For some mind-boggling and unknown reason, Team17 has decided to only include one device multiplayer even though online multiplayer is a hallmark of the series. Promises from the developers have included mentions of upcoming online play, but the exclusion from the initial release is extremely disappointing.
Controls, at times, can make the game a chore. Holding either corresponding side of the screen to move side-to-side works well enough, but just about every other control method found in the game is just too imprecise. Jumping is accomplished by tapping the worm once, and tapping twice causes your worm to backflip. This can require several missed taps to finally accomplish, and a separate "jump" button would be an easy fix. After choosing a button, a cross hair will be displayed near your worm. Most are limited to a fixed radius around your worm, but some weapons, such as air strikes, can be aimed anywhere on the map. Dragging the cross hair changes the aim, which is, in fact, very unresponsive. Holding the shoot button charges up power, and releasing it fires your weapon. For the jetpack, after pressing the shoot button, two onscreen arrows are displayed, and holding one boosts your jetpack to one side. These take a lot of practice to master, but once you do, controlling the jetpack feels... imprecise. Then there's the ninja rope. This is perhaps one of the most important game elements, and it's handled horribly. After tapping the shoot icon, your rope will shoot out and attach itself to a surface. From there, you can move the rope up, down, left, or right using onscreen arrows. Even after many hours playing the game, I still found it nearly impossible to correctly use the rope. There are so many possible control methods for the rope; swipe, tilt, touch/tilt combination, etc. Looking at the controls makes me wonder if Worms was the first game that Team17 has ever played for the iPhone.
On a happier note, the graphics still contain that patent-pending Worms spunk, and a lot of background animations are included - too many perhaps. The game does suffer from some performance issues on my iPhone 3G, but they were just annoyances, never interfering with the actual gameplay. Quite possibly the most frustrating part about this port is the zoom, simply because it would be such an easy fix. First, you are only able to zoom to about five different levels, which is quite annoying, and to make matters worst, the highest zoom level is not nearly far enough in. In addition, panning the screen using two fingers is a laborious process as the camera always seems to be at least a second behind your fingers.
As anyone who's ever played Worms before knows, one of the best parts of the game are the sound effects. The music is fine, but the voices and sound effects of the worms are just downright hilarious and add charm to the game.
Worms for the iPhone certainly still exudes that great Worms gameplay, but it's just buried under a lot of issues. This is game that could easily become one of my favorites with a few meaningful updates, but for now it remains a game that "should have been."