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Worms Rumble Review

Worms Rumble

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Release: //12/1/2020
Publisher: Team17 Digital
Developer: Team17 Digital
Genre: PS5 Reviews, ShooterStrategy
PEGI: 7+
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8.0 - Gameplay
          
 
7.5 - Video
           
 
7.0 - Audio
          
 

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Ah yes, Worms. That beloved tactical franchise from the early-to-mid 90s. You remember – with the sheep and the “Oh dear”. Know what it needs? To become an ACTION-PACKED BATTLE ROYALE, BABY.

I don’t know if that conversation ever took place, but whatever the thought process, meet Worms Rumble. It’s a multiplayer-only 2D-shooter, taking some of the more familiar elements of Worms and repackaging them for the new generation of gaming.

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It’s the biggest change in tone since 2003’s Worms 3D, and we all know how much impact that one had on the franchise. Will Worms Rumble be equally forgotten?

Holy Hand Grenade, Batman!

That one has two different answers. The first is: it probably shouldn’t be. Worms Rumble is great fun – a little bit different and with a learning curve that can bit you on the butt, but easier to get into than the Fortnites and Apexs of the world.

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Unfortunately, even a few weeks after release, it’s getting harder and harder to get a game. Now, obviously, I don’t have any scientific data to back that up. It might be there are twice as many people playing than there were at launch and it’s just taking me longer to get into a match. I don’t know. I can only say that for me, personally, the waiting times are going up, and the amount of unsuspecting newbies I can blow away with a rocket launcher are going down.

That’s a real disappointment, because it’s incredibly good fun. Short and sharp, with plenty of variations and playstyles. There are weapons ranging from the simple handgun to the all-consuming missile-spitting Hammerhead. Racking up kills is a beautiful combination of scavenging bigger and better guns, and good old-fashioned skill.

In this game, skill boils down to jumping in a bit of random way while still being able to occasionally hit a target.

Three giant maps start to feel a little familiar after not too long, but the variety within the maps means you don’t get bored. More differences in location would be nice, but I guess that comes with time. That, like so much else, is now a staple in multiplayer games, and Worms Rumble is no exception.

Leave Me Alone

There are other downsides of being a multiplayer game, of course. The first is that there is an inherent loading time to get into a match. Obviously you have to connect with other players, so your shiny new PS5 SSD – which loads the tutorial in the blink of an eye – suddenly stops being the deciding factor. This only feels like an issue because over the last month or so we’ve been allowed to become so ADHD about loading times, and games like Call of Duty or Rocket League, naturally, don’t have this sort of issue.

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It’s almost an unfair critique, because it’s not something the developers can do anything about, and actually it’s a self-feeding problem. But it is still a problem.

The second is that as the player count drops, the people still around are more talented. I pretty much constantly get in the top three or four in Deathmatch – not a brag, but an example of how someone who has played pretty consistently at launch is now dominating the game’s “easy” mode. With that said, the Battle Royale based Last Squad Standing and Last Worm Standing modes are completely beyond me, because I barely touched them.

Deathmatch is Last Worm Standing, but with respawns. You can fight indefinitely until the match ends, no matter how many times you’re blown to pieces. In Last Worm Standing, a death means you might as well quit out to the main menu (which leads to my “getting a game” problem mentioned above). Last Squad Standing is the game’s only team challenge, and I suspect mileage will depend entirely on if you’re bringing your own friends along to the party. If you’re pairing with randoms, expect mayhem.

Oi, Nutter

Unfortunately, the gameplay loop doesn’t really lend itself to anything single-player. That’s fine, but any problems you face with online elsewhere, you’ll also face here.

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For instance, the latest update sent everything super glitchy. Vents didn’t seem to breakaway, giving stealthy worms the chance to shoot out of them and right into your face. Your little guy would suddenly take off, flying into the sky until your stamina ran out. And, my favourite, I once got to zero health and didn’t die, surprising both my opponent and myself with my fortitude.

These aren’t serious issues. They’ll be fixed sooner rather than later (if they’re not already), and I’ve found them exceedingly rare anyway. But it just goes to show what you’re potentially dealing with.

Games are fun and frantic, and over before they outstay their welcome. Inevitably, you’re met with a level up screen where you receive experience for both your worm and your weapons, and in-game currency. Levelling up nets you access to more cosmetics. In-game currency lets you buy them. There’s a mountain of items to make your worm special, for those that like that sort of thing. Here’s hoping for some Call of Duty-style licensed tie-ins. Nothing like a Freddie Kreuger Worm, right?

But, in all seriousness, this is where the world is and for those that love customisation, the developers have done you well.

They’ve also managed to put in some Dualsense features. I like the haptics, as I always have, but I’m still not convinced by the triggers. As an online game, people would recommend you turn them off anyway, but personally I’m a glutton for punishment. All I’ll say is that it doesn’t take long for my hand to feel tired, which isn’t ideal for playing at length.

Graphics and Sound

Tying into the customisation, there are a bunch of voice options for your worm, and for the voice of the commentator that narrates every match. There’s plenty to choose from, and it gives a unique feel to your worm, and to your game. You could change up something audio-wise every day for a month, and not run out of options.

The graphics are good, but not mind-melting. You wouldn’t expect them to be, given what the game is. They’re fit for purpose and not unpleasant. A few graphical glitches exist. For example, at the end of a match the top three players are shown on screen. Player three in that round-up constantly flickers, their costume going on and off like a light at an anti-epilepsy rave.

Worms Rumble – Conclusion

In Worms Rumble we have a fresh take on a much-love franchise, and it’s a pretty successful one. The game is fun, if relatively shallow. That’s not to say you’ll get bored unless you’re playing in a particularly hardcore way. There’s just enough content and just enough variety to make it feel fresh.

Instead, the issues stem from being online only – something the developers are unable to do anything about. As a PS+ title, I guess there was hope this would be the next Fall Guys or Rocket League but, alas, that doesn’t seem to have happened. What has happened is that there are just enough players to make it worth checking out, but it’s worth doing it sooner rather than later.

 

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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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