Worms: Battle Islands Review

Title: Worms: Battle Islands
Developer: Team 17 Digital
Game Type: PlayStation Portable
Download: 89 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download, Direct Download
EU Availability: Digital Download, Direct Download

This review was requested by and is dedicated to Jacob Nielsen.

When you think about Worms, what do you think of?  More than likely, you think about little, pink creatures that live in the dirt.  Honestly, I think of an episode of the Goosebumps TV Shows that had a situation where all of the worms in a rural area grow to a giant size and terrorize everyone in the area, having become huge killer worm monsters.  However, you might also think about video games, particular a franchise that is simply calls Worms.

Worms is a franchise of military strategy games involving worms.  It’s very different then what you might expect from that description.  In essence, the series is a franchise where you are going through turn-based fights to try to attack and annihilate one another.  It’s not a series that is immensely popular.  In fact, this reviewer has only played one game in the series, and that is something that is quite rare.

For the PlayStation Vita, there are two options if you want to try out this series.  One of the games is for the Vita, itself, and another is a PSP title.  Today, we have a review for you for the PSP title, as was requested for us to review.  Here is our official review of Worms: Battle Islands.

Story

The story of Worms: Battle Islands is not really shown or detailed, but in the opening cinematic.  A large group of worms with faces are traveling to one of six island resorts.  Once they get there, they are planning to have a great time on vacation.  Once they get there to their Base Island, which you choose as you start the game, they decide that, to have fun, they’re going to attack each other with weapons and try to blow each other up before they get blown up, themselves.

That is all there is to it to the story.  All in all, the series doesn’t have much of a story.  The whole emphasis is on the gameplay, so there isn’t a deep, emotional story to go with the military setting of the games.

Gameplay

When you first start up the game, you will be tasked with choosing an island to be your Base of Operations.  There are various types of islands, from a Nuclear Plant to Resort Islands to more.  Once you choose your base, you can make your troops to name and then start working on compiling weapons and going into battle with other teams of worms, which are CPU-controlled, on missions.

When you go into a battle, you will be able to choose where you want to do the battle, and then your team will be loaded into the battlefield.  A battlefield consists of a 2D plane that can far exceed the normal view of what’s on-screen.  You will have a 2D landscape that your worm troops are placed on, as well as the enemy troops.  You will then be set loose to participate in turn-based fights.

When you think of a strategy game, you might think of Real-Time Strategy where time is constantly moving and you have to constantly move troops to make items and fight enemy units.  Worms progresses a little different.  Being Turn-Based, each unit takes a turn where everyone else stands still.  You will be on a timer throughout your turn as you can move across the landscape, change weapons,  and jump around before eventually aiming your weapon and attacking the enemy.  Positioning is very important, especially if you a destructive weapon.  Since there are weapons, from rifles, to TNT, to rocket launchers, to grenades, you have to watch where you and your allies are because you take damage from explosions as well as your enemy units.

Another thing to consider is the fact that the landscape can be destroyed.  If you fire a rocket at the landscape around an opponent, it can hit and take them out, but it will also leave a rather large hole in the landscape.  This is so much so that it could prevent you from getting past the hole to go towards the enemy units.  Worms don’t jump very high, so it’s not only a strategy of positioning of your unit, but also positioning of where your attacks go.

As you progress through battles and win them, you gain access to new areas as well as obtaining experience and blueprints.  Experience accumulates and can increase your base’s rank and blueprints will allow you to create and equip new kinds of weapons past the initial set that you can go with.  This is tied with the customization that there is.  You can customize many things, from your worms to weapons to your base to some of the landscapes you fight on.  There are a lot of customization options here in the game.

There are Campaign Missions in the game that span about 30 missions over the six islands.  However, there are also other things you can do.  There are Puzzle Missions, where you can do various stunts and challenges.  Some of these can be defeating all of the enemy units, while others has you using a jetpack to fly through a secret cavern.  Finally, there are multiplayer options that let you fight with a friend to find out who can wipe the other out the fastest.

All in all, you will be simply fighting one another to try to take out your enemies and not make bad situations with your landscape to prevent you from reaching the enemy units.  But, as far as time is concerned, it’s not an incredibly long game.  If you play through the Campaign missions, you shouldn’t be spending more than about 6-7 hours on the game before you can get through each of them.

Controls

Controls are one of the things that many people praised when this game first came out on the PSP and the Wii.  Previous games had control schemes that were a little harder to use when you were in the middle of the actions.  With playing the game on the Vita, you have even more options with mapping controls to the touch screens or the Right Analog Stick.

The D-Pad and Left Analog Stick are used for navigating menus as well as moving the currently-controlled character around the landscape during their turn.  The Face Buttons do most of the controls, though.  The X Button is used to aim and shoot your weapon when you’re trying to take out part of the landscape or an enemy’s HP.  The Square Button is used for Jumping and the Circle button can pull up your list of weapons to equip.

The other controls for the game are used mostly for the camera.  It is sometimes hard to see everything on-screen, so you can use the L and R buttons to zoom in and out of the screen before you make your move.  The Start Button also pauses the game so you’re not wasting all of your turn figuring out where you want to go next.

Presentation

Visually, Worms Battle Islands doesn’t look bad.  Though I wouldn’t say it looks the best, either.  On the PSP, they used a Cell-Shading style for the game.  This allowed them to have crisp 3D character models on the 2D landscapes, which was a unique style.  However, the transition over to the Vita sacrificed some of the crispness of the models.  All of the character models, whether in a loading screen or in a battle, have a lot of jagged edges that break the smoothness of the cell-shading.  It doesn’t look bad now, but doesn’t look great.

Apart from this, the game plays pretty well.  While there are some lengthy load times to consider whenever you are loading a battle, it normally doesn’t last more than about 5 seconds.  That is something that’s not bad, considering this was a game that had also released on the Nintendo Wii.  The gameplay, itself, runs very smooth.  There is little to no slowdown between giving out a command and the appropriate character moving along with you.

Overall

If you’re a fan of the Worms game and want a game on-the-go, this isn’t a bad purchase.  While there is a Worms game that features similar gameplay native to the Vita and the visuals for this got hit when being stretched on the Vita, this game isn’t a bad choice, either.  If you like the genre, it can be a very fun pick-up-and-play game.  While I wouldn’t call it a fantastic game, it’s not a bad one, either.

The PlayStation Vita Review Network Rates Worms: Battle Islands a 6.5/10

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One comment

  1. Sorry to hear that the great cel graphic have suffered from the porting /: But you gotta admit it’s a pretty good soundtrack (:

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