Worms

If you were playing videogames in the early-mid '90s, the strapline above might stir feelings of nostalgia. If it doesn't, perhaps mention of Metal Slug, Alien Breed and Alien Breed: Tower Assault will. And if that doesn't either, it's ever-so-slightly possible you're dead inside. In any event, they're all going cheap in GOG's latest weekly sale

Clearly, I've named my picks of the bunch in the strap, so let's look at those first. Worms 2, Cannon Fodder and Sensible World of Soccer 96/97 are all on sale for just £0.89/$1.19. It's dated as hell now, but the Amiga/Atari/DOS entries of the Sensi series are among my all-time favourites.  

Metal Slug, MS2, MS3 and MSX are all going for £2.19/$2.99; and Alien Breed and its Tower Assault follow-up come bundled at £0.69/$0.89. Elsewhere, the formidable Worms Armageddon comes in at £2.19/$3.09, as does King of the Monsters, as does Fatal Fury Special

Modern ventures, such as prison break 'em up The Escapists and its DLC are also going cheap, as is Worms' most recent outing—2016's Worms WMD.

Courtesy of YouTube person Neffets, here's Real Madrid getting cuffed 5-2 by Danish side Silkeborg in Sensible World of Soccer 96/97:

Check out GOG's latest weekly sale in full, which runs from now through Monday, May 21.

Some online stores give us a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Read our affiliate policy for more info. 

Borderlands 2

The pantheon of great videogame weapons is dominated by shotguns, rocket launchers, and the odd sword or hammer. And it makes sense, these tools are responsible for the large majority of blood you’ll spill in most games. It’s a shame though, because there’s something wonderful and elegant about a perfect grenade toss—that graceful arc through the air before unleashing untold, instant destruction. If the rat-a-tat of a gun is the string section of an orchestra, grenades are that ear-splitting crash cymbal. Pound for pound, grenades can be every bit as satisfying—and there’s no shortage of wacky grenades that rival the most absurd guns.

In honor of these little death dealers, we’re rounding up the best grenades in PC gaming—from the satisfying shockwave of FEAR’s frag grenades to the divine chorus that spells doom for your team in Worms. If you like watching things explode (or implode!), we’ve got some good ‘nades for you.

Holy Hand Grenade - Worms 

Few grenades are capable of triggering horrific childhood memories quite like Worms’ Holy Hand Grenade. I vividly remember the dread of seeing one plop down next to several of my worms, a chorus of angels singing a triumphant “Hallelujah!” before blasting them all straight to hell. It’s the enormity of God’s holy wrath contained in the tiniest of weapons. Compared to Worm’s other assortment of absurd weaponry, the Holy Hand Grenade is elegant and simple: You throw it and count to three—four shall thou not count, neither count thou two, accepting that thou then proceed to three—and revel in the obscenely large explosion capable of destroying a huge portion of the map. And if the initial blast doesn’t finish off your enemy, you can always rest easy knowing it’ll send them soaring through the air to a watery grave. Monty Python might have invented it, but Worms’ hilarious variation is what really made this one of PC gaming’s most iconic grenades. — Steven Messner

Pulse Grenade - Destiny 2 

I generally don’t like a damage-over-time ‘nades, but until these were nerfed they were straight up broken in Destiny 2. Pulse Grenades are arc-powered pineapples that are exclusive to the Warlock Stormcaller and the Titan Striker subclasses, the latter of which could carry two at once with the top skill tree. Toss a Pulse Grenade down and the initial impact sends enemies pinwheeling through the air. Anything not killed instantly is then flash fried by repeated bursts of electrical energy that look like a fire in a sparkler factory. The funny thing is that Pulse grenades were absolutely garbage in Destiny 1, but for the sequel they were buffed to be good enough to melt bosses, whilst almost every other grenade got reduced to water balloon effectiveness. But that’s Bungie’s sandbox balance team for you. The daft bastards. — Tim Clark 

N6A3 Fragmentation Grenade - FEAR 

*Slow motion voice* Get dowwn!

I don't know what porn is, but watching a N6A3 fragmentation grenade explode in slow motion is grenade porn. The explosion bends the air into a visible concussive bubble, a shockwave that sends office supplies flying and men's asses to the ground. There's a half-second of quiet as everything floats away from the grenade's center, and then pop, fire and shrapnel fill the screen and dissolve the men and their asses into errant blood spatter textures and goofy little giblets. It takes some time for the smoke to clear. Exhale with it as you try to convince yourself FEAR came out over ten years ago. — James Davenport 

Medic grenade - Killing Floor 2 

Killing Floor 2 is so focused on shooting and blowing stuff up that even its medics get to shoot you (with love) and blow you up (with vitality). I love that KF2's medic class doesn't have to slow down or weild a Team Fortress 2 or Overwatch-like proton pack to do the job: just alt fire to stick a teammate with a healing dart, or throw a medic grenade to pop a cloud of blue smoke for everyone to suck into their lungs. It’s not the most impressive visual effect, but nailing a toss and capturing your struggling teammates in the cool, healthy embrace of your medicinal gas, which also damages Zeds, can prevent a team wipe—and I love saving my teammates by violently chucking metal at them.— Tyler Wilde

Boogie Bomb - Fortnite Battle Royale 

Would you rather your digital avatar be torn limb from limb by bits of shrapnel or would you rather lose control of it altogether, forced into some stupid boogie nights wiggle as your executioner watches and laughs? Sure, Fortnite Battle Royale's Boogie Bomb is cute, but the reality is a horror show, a tool built for humiliation. Death by one such mirror-plated 'nade is like being taken to the influencer gallows, where you're forced to tromp around and bash cymbals together for a meme-hemorrhaging audience before the floor gives out. I'll take the shrapnel, please. — James Davenport

Thermal Imploder - Star Wars Battlefront

The best grenades don’t always have to have to do something wacky, sometimes it’s all in the presentation—and in that regard the Thermal Imploder is unparalleled (except by FEAR’s N6A3 ‘nade, maybe). EA’s Battlefront stuck relatively close to Star War’s canon when it came to weaponry, but the Thermal Imploder is an exception I’m willing to make. The blast effect is gorgeous, but it’s really the bwah-bwuuuuh! of its detonation that makes this grenade stand out. If FEAR's frag grenade is grenade porn for the eyes, then the Thermal Imploder is grenade porno music for the ears. — Steven Messner

Candela - Rainbow Six Siege 

The fanciest flash grenade in video games, Ying's 'candela' spits out not one but six independent flash charges in quick succession, making it hard to shield yourself from. It also has strangely nuanced throwing behavior. If you cook it, up to three LEDs will illuminate on the candela before throwing. The more lights that are lit, the further the tactical light ball will roll along a floor. And separately, you can simply affix the thing to any 'soft' wall in Siege to flash through the wall. It's fun to hurl into a bombsite or hostage room, knowing at the very least you've sent anyone inside scattering. — Evan Lahti

Singularity grenade - Borderlands 2 

I played most of Borderlands 2 solo as Maya, so singularity grenades, which suck enemies into a little black hole before exploding, were my best friend. I sampled a few other grenade mods in the early hours, but once I found my first singularity, I never looked back. I'd actually hold onto low-level singularity mods instead of using higher-level bouncing betty mods and the like. They're that good, especially for Maya, whose super skill preys on clusters of enemies. They're also fabulous with rocket launchers, and I have fond memories of gawking at their Geforce PhysX particle effects. Remember when that was still novel? Where do the years go... — Austin Wood

Frag Grenade - XCOM

On the surface, frags in XCOM are not that impressive. You can cause more damage by shooting someone, their range isn't great, they destroy equipment so you can't salvage stuff off anyone you do manage to kill with them, and lining up that bubble showing where they will land can be annoying. It's not flashy, it's not special, it doesn't draw attention to itself. It's the Jimmy Stewart of handheld explosives. But the humble XCOM frag grenade is in everybody's inventory from mission one, they destroy cover, and you don't have a percentage chance to miss with them. They always lands where you want and cause enough damage to kill a baseline sectoid. The number of turns where I've messed up every easy shot and found myself in a situation where someone's fucked unless I can cause precisely three points of damage to that one guy over there are beyond counting. In those situations, the XCOM frag grenade is the best.— Jody Macgregor

Incendiary Grenade - The Division 

If the twenty first century has taught us anything, and so far it probably hasn’t, it’s that blowing people up is bad. But for real transgressive thrills you can’t beat setting (pretend) people on fire.  I think my love of immolating NPCs began with TimeSplitters on PS1, because Free Radical Design went the extra mile to code in really scared HOLYFUCKIMONFIRE screams. But it was with The Division that my pyromania took root. I main the Firecrest gear set which is built around setting dudes on fire. Mostly with the rinky dink flamethrower turret, but also with the extra Incendiary Grenades the gear grants. Pop one of these spicy little peppers and it spills liquid napalm over a satisfyingly wide surface area. Enemies caught within the nade’s roast radius start flapping around like, well… like their arses on fire. With the Wildfire talent enabled the burn spreads to their colleagues in that satisfyingly organic way that Ubisoft games seem to have nailed. I dunno, man. Burning is just the best. — Tim Clark

PC Gamer

People still remember 1999's Worms Armageddon fondly, and in some ways developer Team17 has fought against that nostalgia as it continues to develop the series. As a lifelong Worms fiend, it s been hard for me to enjoy the most recent Worms games on PC Worms Revolution in 2012 and Worms Clan Wars in 2013 because they just seem so different. They are both good games, but Worms with varying stats and the cheesy 3D graphics kept it at arm s length from the Worms experience I remember.

But the next installment, Worms WMD, is a love letter to Armageddon. It s a homecoming for a series that may have strayed a little too far down the path of modernizing for the sake of modernizing. Team17 has stripped out the different worm stats and fancy water physics, and returned to 2D art that looks the way you (incorrectly) remember Armageddon looking. Digitally painted environments and characters that are downright gorgeous, especially compared to the 3D models of the games that came before it. The whole game looks stunning for its simplicity, and it feels like Worms.

Despite being made on a brand new engine, jumping, ninja roping, and carefully firing bazookas into the wind all worked just as I d hoped. And the cheeky sense of humor present through all the games is still there, now updated with even more references. The voices available in the preview build I played included one that sounded like Bear Grylls, a cheese-obsessed character that sounded like Wallace of Wallace and Gromit, and (I imagine a recent addition) a worm clearly meant to be Bob Ross who would tell me there are no mistakes, just happy accidents every time I whiffed a shot.

An unentered building on the left, and then what it looks like inside on the right.

Despite its reverence for classic Worms, WMD does introduce a handful of new mechanics to shake up the formula. The best of these new additions are buildings areas of the map that look solid, but are actually mostly hollow. When one of your worms enters a building, the facade disappears to reveal the area inside. It s pretty much just normal terrain, but the health bars and names of worms in a building don t show up unless it s your turn, and even then only if you are controlling a worm in that building. It s a unique moment in a game of Worms where all the information isn t clearly laid out in front of you, and remembering who's indoors is key.

The helicopter is an incredibly strong tool on flat maps like this.

Unfortunately the addition of vehicles doesn t add nearly as much to the game as buildings do. The preview build I played had pilotable tanks and attack-helicopters scattered around the map, and they felt like a weird sidestep for the series. When jetpacks have such limited fuel and expert ninja rope skills can get you to otherwise unreachable locations, it seems wholly out of place to be able to spawn right next to an infinitely flying helicopter, entirely undermining both of those items. Additionally, each vehicle only has one mode of fire, which makes them a predictable set piece in a game that s otherwise about variety.

Something I'm still undecided on is how the addition of crafting fits into Worms. A second tab in the weapon select screen reveals the crafting menu, where you can construct most of the weapons in the game. You can even make special upgraded variants of weapons, like a flame-launching bazooka or a proximity mine version of the iconic Holy Hand Grenade. Crafting requires crafting materials which drop from the sky in specially marked crates, similar to health packs and other supply drops.

Because what the Concrete Donkey really needed was a craftable variant with fire.

It s actually a pretty cool way of letting players tailor their arsenal to their needs mid-match. If you see the enemy is turtling up, craft more (or better) bunker busters. If they re exposed, craft napalm air strikes and homing missiles. You can open and use the crafting menu while you are waiting during an opponent's turn in an online match, but I worry the feature was created entirely with online play in mind. In local games the best ways to play Worms you can only craft on your own turn, and those who can t craft quickly will be at a pretty big disadvantage, especially considering turn time is usually of the essence for inexperienced players.

But even with these new changes, playing Worms WMD felt like familiar in all the right ways. I wasn t able to play around with customizing my team or changing the ruleset of a match at all, so we ll have to wait until the game launches on August 23rd to see if you can do things like turn off vehicles or alter crafting options, but WMD is a whole lot of fun. It brings back the Armageddon experience while still feeling like a fresh take for the series.

PC Gamer

In the 21 years Worms has been in existence, the turn-based strategy-cum-murder playground has spawned over 20 main series entries and a smattering of supplementary spin-offs. Over 3,000,000,000 worms have met their maker in that time, says developer Team 17, which is a number sure to rise further still when Worms WMD arrives on August 23.

Expect new additions such as tanks, rocket-launching choppers and concealable buildings when it does; not to mention huge falling Concrete Donkeys because, well, this is Worms.

Should you wish to commit to the frontlines early, WMD s All-Stars pre-order edition adds a whole host of familiar war-faring faces to your ranks too - from rocket-propelled cars, to raging orcs; from prison escapees, to dubstep gun-wielding saints. Check out highlights from the All-Stars pack ensemble below:

  • Rocket League: Adds Rocket League's Octane Battle-Car to the war zone.
  • Goat Simulator: Introduces the off-the-wall Goat-on-a-Rope weapon that utilises goats with sticky tongues, as well as a themed three-mask set.  
  • PAYDAY 2: Adds Payday-styled masks to your gang of slimy swindlers. 
  • Saints Row IV: Equips worms with the infamous Dub Step Gun.
  • Unturned: Three masks from the free-to-play zombie survival 'em up added to play, not to mention a specific Unturned mission. 
  • Broforce: Adds the Broforce Turkey Bomb, as well as the The Liberty Strike air attack.
  • Orcs Must Die! Unchained: A minions weapons and a three-mask set awaits orc/worm slaughterers.
  • Yooka-Laylee: Adds a Yooka-Laylee-themed seven-mask set. 
  • The Escapists: Introduces a new mission and a jailhouse-themed three-mask set.
  • Classic Worms: Adds classic worm fodder by way of the Ming Vase, Sheep Launcher, and Kamikaze weapons, as well as five "classic" missions and a three-mask set.

Fancy that? The All-Stars Pack will be available to everyone who pre-orders before August 23. The Steam pre-order is set to go live at 6pm BST/10am PT today, and will cost 19.99/$29.99/29,99 .

PC Gamer
Why I Love

In Why I Love, PC Gamer writers pick an aspect of PC gaming that they love and write about why it's brilliant. Today, we get into the swing, as Phil explains his love of grappling hooks.

If you go back through the Why I Love articles I've written to date—stealth on shipsTF2's Scout or playing Chinese-style opera in Audiosurf—all have, to a greater or lesser extent, been about systems or experiences that change how you traverse through a level. The Scout can double-jump. Ship-based stealth levels are tighter and more claustrophobic than their inevitable "big warehouse" counterpart. Monkey Bee has one of the most distinct middle-sections I've yet to see emerge from Audiosurf's level generator.

A satisfying traversal system isn't the only thing I look for in a game, but it is one of a few broad areas that define my taste. If I can move around a game in interesting ways, then I will probably like it. I like Prototype—a game in which you can run up, and leap off, and glide over buildings—even though a part of me suspects that it's really a bit rubbish. I'm a somewhat overweight guy in his thirties. Sometimes it's nice to tell gravity to go and do one.

There's another traversal tool that I consistently love in games: the grappling hook. My appreciation for good grappling hooks—and good here doesn't mean realistic—started with the original version of Worms. Friends and I would play multiplayer matches with a very specific set of rules: no turn timer, unlimited girders, and unrestricted access to the grappling hook (or "ninja rope," as it's called in-game). You can use the ninja rope multiple times per turn, and we gave ourselves unlimited time to make our way across the map. With these rules, a worm can travel from one side to the other—their turn ending only if they take fall damage.

That's where the girders came in. We'd place them above the level, both to protect our own guys from air strikes and to have more surfaces to grapple on to. Worms' rope mechanics are, in essence, bizarre. They're also consistent in their implementation, which led us to a great understanding of their potential. With some effort, it's possible to swing 180 degrees and beyond—eventually landing on top of the platform the worm is swinging from. The trick is to extend the rope fully, smack into a solid surface, and then retract. That maximises the speed boost from bouncing off the wall, and, with luck, propels the worm up and around. 

To anyone but those directly involved in the match, this was an unspeakably tedious spectacle. To us, it was thrilling.

Subsequent Worms games enforced turn times, essentially ruining my enjoyment of them. But a few other 2D games feature that same spirit of exploitable traversal. Trine is, intentionally or not, all about this. One of its three characters is a Thief, and her grappling hook allows for a similarly awkward battle against physics. Here, you can even grapple onto one surface, break off and re-attach to another, all while still in mid-swing. You can, on select levels, chain these swings—at times resulting in long, unbroken stretches of undulation. 

Used properly, it can be a graceful tool. But both Trine games also contain a secret hidden mini-game for grappling hook aficionados. This game is called "can I use the Thief to complete this section, even though it was obviously designed for the Wizard?" Often, the answer is yes.

At this point, I should probably point to another 2D grappling hook game—one designed entirely around swinging as the main method of level traversal. It's called Floating Point, it's free, and it was made by PC Gamer's former section editor Tom Francis. It's a more sedate grapple-space to move through, and rare in that its freedom of movement is the idea rather than an exploitable quirk in the engine. If you're here because you like grappling hooks, then it's relevant to your interests.

In three-dimensions, the grappling hook is a less sure-fire hit. Too often, it's restricted—kept to specific grapple-points in order to stop the player breaking the level in ridiculous ways. Most recently, you can see this in Far Cry 4. You have a grappling hook! You can jump from the rope and re-attach it to another point before hitting the ground! You can only do this at specifically marked points around the map. I'd like you to imagine a sort of anti-exclamation mark, and place it on the end of that last sentence.

Some games are better at it this than others, and they tend to be the ones that are more open about their freedom of movement. Arkham City's Grapnel Gun combos satisfyingly with the glide. You can't swing, but you can shoot it to build speed across the map—using it to all but fly. And then there's Just Cause 2, or Let's Do Fun Shit With A Grappling Hook: The Game. You can attach onto a plane, or to cars, or to an explosive barrel that is shooting vertically into the air. You can use it in conjunction with a parachute to create a free-form system of movement more distinct and enjoyable than any of the game's vehicles.

Maybe that's another reason why grappling hooks, specifically, are one of my favourite methods of traversal. They're inherently ridiculous. There is no way to put an unrestricted grappling hook in a game and still have it be a serious tool, because it's either inherently exploitable or inherently unrealistic. It is a jointly a tool for motion and a tool for fun. 

Case in point: the 3D version of Bionic Commando. It had a grappling hook as its central gimmick, and yet its story still felt the need for a Serious Emotional Payload. How was that done? With the late-game reveal that your bionic grapple-arm was also your wife. Your wife, who was used to create a strong emotional bond with the robo-limb.

That is dumb. But that is what happens when you try to inject emotional pathos into a game with a grappling hook—it throws off your sense of what's appropriate. At some point, a developer must have questioned whether wife-in-a-robo-arm was good storytelling. I suspect they saw their hero swinging care-free through a city and lost all sense of perspective. "Yes," this hypothetical employee thought, "it makes total sense that this bionic commando's arm is his wife."

It didn't, though. It was stupid. That's why grappling hooks can never be serious. Not true, freeform, use-'em-wherever-you-like grappling hooks. They're silly and fun—a tool for engaging with, perfecting, and enjoying the feeling of motion. They are, in practice and philosophy, the opposite of a wife in an arm.

More grappling hooks; less wives in robot arms. That feels like a strange place to end things, but also like good words to live by.

...

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