Worms is a gaming classic, but maybe it should have stayed in the past. The basis of the game is turn based combat with a 2D set-up where you try to use various weapons to have the last worm standing. The series is now up to Worms 3 on iOS, and it’s claimed to be “designed and developed exclusively for iOS”. That statement is laughable at best, because this game is poorly designed for iOS even by 2008 standards when the App Store launched. This may be the most frustrating game to interact with in the App Store, save the first two Worms games. The branding of being made for iOS sounded like it would actually be made for touch, but nothing in this game works the way you would expect, or in any manner that could be seen as smooth.
Worms 3 is jam packed with features, but it’s tough to even get to them when you’re hampered by the poor controls. There are two different options with either a d-pad or direct touch interaction, and it’s tough to decide which is worse. Both make it a hassle to actually aim any of your weapons, which is the basis of the game. With either one, you have to be extremely deliberate with your actions with no intuitive aspects at all whether the game confuses movement for aiming, or jumping for movement. The touch controls are especially problematic since the game is claimed to be made for touch, and yet you’re never sure what your touch interaction is going to do. You’re supposed to tap on either side of the screen to move in that direction, drag the aim indicator, and tap directly on a worm to move, but it never is that easy. The controls can actually end up causing damage to your own worms, and it’s so bad that it’s not even funny.
After soldiering away with the terrible controls I was able to dive into the actual gameplay, which gave the controls a run for their money for the worst aspect of the game. When the tutorial begins by saying that health crates give you health, you know you’re in trouble. Every turn is extremely tedious with very deliberate actions, delayed enemy responses, and deliberately slow movement by the worms. There are also terrible transitions in between turns to the point that you notice time pass as the game slogs forward. In an amusing twist of fate, the characters in the game provide perfectly descriptive lines including, “It’s like watching paint dry”, “Pick your poison”, and of course “Boring”. Each one is set within the flow of the game, but they perfectly describe the flow of the gameplay, and the decision of what’s worse between the gameplay and controls.
The game does feature an extensive single player campaign with 27 missions across four themes. There’s also asynchronous online multiplayer to play head to head with friends. Both would be great features in other games, but are completely irrelevant in Worms 3 because everything else is so poorly designed. A big component of number three is the inclusion of cards, which provide some very valuable use cases, but still don’t change the low level of strategy. One of the most amusing parts of the campaign is that it’s tough to aim or gauge the power of your own shots, but the AI enemy can nail you perfectly to show you how it’s done. Weapons are another focus of Worms, and since aiming is so difficult, most are rendered inert, despite their variability. To make matters worse, you have to be familiar with the more specialized weapons, or you’ll end up just having to experiment to see what they do, with no clear indicators anywhere in the game. The game has no redeeming qualities, and it’s one of the worst iOS experiences I’ve had the misfortune to endure.
Worms 3 ($4.99, Universal) is an intense battle with horrible controls and poor game balancing that isn’t worth your money, and definitely not your time. It’s an embarrassing release, that no one should ever have to be subject to. Harsh I know, but Worms 3 earned it. If this review changes just one person’t mind on picking up this game, then my job is done.