Worms 3D Review

Despite its slightly aged appearance, the accessible strategy and comical violence retain most of their appeal.


The differences between past Worms games have been incremental, and the release of Worms 3D last year on the GameCube, PC, and PlayStation 2 marked the biggest change the series had seen. For some strange reason, it took a full extra year for Sega to bring Worms 3D to US Xboxes. Worms 3D also sports a budget-conscious price tag and online play on the Xbox, and despite its slightly aged appearance, the accessible strategy and comical violence retain most of their appeal.

How does a worm even use a jetpack?

Save for the anomalous and oddly compelling Worms Blast, all of the previous Worms games have been turn-based strategy affairs, and Worms 3D doesn't mess with that part of the formula. The fundamental task in Worms 3D is to command a strike team of worms armed with an arsenal of inventive weaponry to dispose of the opposing team (or teams). During each timed turn you're given control of a single worm. You can inch around the landscape, using jump and backflip moves to get past smaller obstacles or using special gear such as the ninja rope or the jetpack to access harder-to-reach spots. The selection of weapons in Worms 3D is both varied and completely silly and definitely accounts for much of the game's appeal. There are plenty of conventional weapons--bazookas, grenades, shotguns, land mines, and Uzis--but then there's the weird stuff, like the exploding sheep, the Street Fighter II-style dragon punch, and the agreeably chaotic banana bomb. And these are just some of the highlights.

Despite their absurd setting and cutesy presentation, the Worms games have always been pretty serious tactical strategy affairs, with factors like the wind direction, fall damage, and the blast radius of different explosions coming into play. The projectiles are definitely harder to use now than when the worms had only two dimensions to consider, which will usually force you to get a lot closer to your enemy before you launch an attack. Since all of the maps in the Worms games have been bound on all sides by water, one of the most practical strategies is to just knock a worm into the drink rather than try to whittle away at its health, since, as we all know, worms can't swim. By taking the game into 3D, this tactic is made even more prominent, since there are now more sides to push opponents off of. Worms 3D is still a good strategy game, but curiously, taking the game into full 3D seems to have actually detracted from some of the depth found in the 2D games.

If you're by yourself, Worms 3D offers several fun diversions. The campaign mode puts you through a series of maps where you're regularly given objectives other than simply eliminating the enemy, usually involving picking up special packages scattered across the map. Playing through the campaign mode will, in turn, unlock stages in the challenge mode, where you'll have to flex specific skills, such as your prowess with the shotgun, your finesse with the jetpack, or your ability to dispatch the opposing team quickly. There's also a quick-start option, which will toss you into a random game, which is good if you just want a no-strings game of Worms.

But the most attractive aspect of Worms 3D is its multiplayer game. The game itself doesn't differ that radically from a regular game against the AI, but what makes it so great is the amount of customization it allows for. Up to four teams of worms can play in a round-robin game, and the variables you can tweak include, and are not limited to, the weapons available during the match, the amount of health each worm has, the length of the game, the length of each turn, the number of rounds in the match, whether worms take damage from falling, whether the landscape is destructible, and the size, shape, and color of the landscape. All these options, combined with the fast-paced hot-seat nature of Worms 3D, make it a fantastic multiplayer game with a great amount of replay value.

The Xbox version of Worms 3D has a very pronounced edge over its PS2 and GameCube counterparts in the multiplayer game, largely because of the inclusion of system link and Xbox Live support. Thanks to the standard Xbox Live feature set, which includes the easy-to-use quick match and optimatch features, as well as voice chat support, the online experience is far more streamlined and stable than what Team 17 implemented on the PC. There aren't many people playing right off the bat, but when you can find some competition, the multiplayer is a lot of fun.

The look of Worms 3D is usually sunny and cartoony. There's no thematic consistency beyond that, really, and the levels you'll do battle in include a spooky graveyard, a re-creation of King Kong climbing the Empire State Building, and the moon. The graphics are simple, looking kind of blocky and sporting some rather simple textures. The personality definitely helps the game overcome the relatively basic technology that powers it. It doesn't look like Team 17 has tweaked the visuals at all in the year since the other platform releases of Worms 3D, and it shows. Textures can be a little fuzzy, and the overall scope of the game isn't impressive.

Aside from aerating soil, these worms enjoy using heavy munitions and are proficient in close-quarters melee combat.

The voices of the worms have been a linchpin to the aesthetics of the series from the beginning, and Worms 3D knows not to mess with a winning formula here. On the whole, the worms will make off-the-cuff comments in a cute, squeaky voice, but the beauty here is that there are just shy of 40 different voice themes that you can assign your worms, which gives you plenty of options if you grow tired of a particular set. The bulk of the in-game sound effects have been lifted directly from past Worms games, and the familiarity of the squeaky noise the worms make as they inch along, the hollow clank of a grenade bouncing off surfaces, and the solid kerplunk when worms end up in the water not only let you know you're playing a Worms game, but also complement the game's outlandish tone on their own. There's a bit of music in there too, which is light and upbeat, though not in an overly cartoony way.

Worms 3D puts in a good effort to introduce a third dimension into the formula without losing the strategy and the silliness that defined the series, but frankly, the 2D Worms games of yore were just better. If you're not concerned about the Worms legacy, you'll find that Worms 3D stands up as a cute, quirky little strategy game with excellent multiplayer capacity. There are worse things you could say about a game, and ultimately, it's good to see that Team 17's nihilistic annelids have survived the transition to 3D without much incident.

The Good
Accessible strategy
Highly customizable
Great multiplayer options
Budget price
The Bad
Middling production values
Less depth than 2D counterparts
No one on Xbox Live (for now)
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Worms 3D

  • PC
  • PlayStation 2
  • Xbox
  • GameCube
  • Macintosh
Worms 3D is a pretty good strategy game, but taking the game into full 3D seems to have actually detracted from some of the depth found in the 2D games.
All Platforms
Animated Violence, Cartoon Violence
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