As any PC gamer knows, the Worms series is a pillar of strength - a game that truly stands the test of time since its inception in 1995.
The newest, Worms 2: Armageddon for the Xbox 360, is the fifteenth release in what can only be one of the biggest gaming franchises around, perhaps after Final Fantasy. Who can blame gamers who enjoy taking control of the cute earth worms in an attempt to blow each other up?
Worms 2: Armageddon is a turn-based game which has each player take command of a small army of worms. These worms have to fight the opposing team to the death. This alone sounds pretty epic, but throw in an immense arsenal of weaponry and the worms will soon be turning one another to ash. Worms 2: Armageddon allows for enormous customisation, which lets gamers create their own mini-armies by naming each worm as well as selecting their accents, headwear, gravestones and colour. This allows gamers to make their worms their own, and it definitely helps to feel some attachment to the little critters. Happily, the customisation now comes very close to the earlier PC works.
Worms 2: Armageddon is a true Worms title. It is fully fledged, with no holds barred. The graphics have been refined with some absolutely awesome napalm and fire effects, and the animations have been fine-tuned to look even more spectacular. It's the little details that make it so much fun - walk one of your worms up to another and hear the little blighter let out an ear-piercing shriek at its impending doom, or listen to the subtle splash as a worm is blown square off the map into the ocean (one of the most satisfying sounds in the game). The game’s graphical style is a hark back to the much loved original Worms Armageddon, and the flavour is entirely retained.
It’s nice to see a return of the full Worms armament too, with over forty weapons in the game from the Holy Hand Grenade to the epic Sheep, as well as Napalm and of course the Air Strike. These weapons are all well balanced, as in most games the more epic the weapon the less use you will have of that particular weapon, so it's about choosing your targets well, aiming, powering up and setting your shots down as close as possible. The random map editor also keeps the game from ever getting boring, with an endless array of random maps to choose from. Each one plays very differently and requires completely different tactics. For example, one map was structured like a tower and had a large number of areas to hide. This required the players to use parachutes, teleports and jetpacks to fly up and down to the other players in order to make their shots land. This takes great finesse, as a wrong foot will see your worm land in the drink, and bring you a step closer to Game Over.
A real improvement over the last XBLA Worms game from 2007 comes in the form of a true single-player campaign. You can still destroy your opponents, however a number of levels will require you to solve puzzles or reach the end of a level within an allotted time. These puzzles can be quite tricky, but really its more about simply sticking to it. Winning rounds gives you credits which you can then spend at the in-game Worms store to gain access to more weapons with even greater effects. Multiplayer games too are always a blast, and the multiplayer allows the players full access to the customisation, pitting up to four opponents against one another over Xbox Live. You can even recall the memories of the days Worms was the centre-piece at a LAN party, as up to four players can battle it out on the same console.
Team17 Software have truly though of everything with this Worms title, and there is no doubt that if you’ve been hankering for a good game of Worms on your 360, it's finally here. Particular mention really needs to go to the ability to fully customise the game in a way that up until now only PC gamers have been able to do. It sounds like a simple thing, but really it isn’t, and Worms 2: Armageddon delivers in almost every area.
As a downside, the game is still just Worms and it really does nothing to bring anything new to the table, but then again, does it have to?