Everyone knows what the Worms are, right?
No, it isn’t what you get if you eat lots of dirt as a child, but the series of video games which originated from UK studio Team 17. This seminal series has lost its lustre in recent times, mostly because of a succession of sub-par sequels and dubious forays into three dimensions, but following on from the successful re-release of Worms onthe console download services, Worms 2: Armageddon has also been released.
Just in case there are still those unfamiliar with how it plays, Worms is a turn-based battler in which teams or individuals attempt to bomb, shoot and generally maim their opponents until one side is victorious. The main formula hasn’t changed all that much from the original title released in 1995 but, like all good games, there`s still something appealing about the core concept that keeps people coming back for more.
There’s a fairly comprehensive list of modes on offer with this release. The training section will help those who are new to the series get to grips with everything and, once ready, they can make a proper start on the campaign. Consisting of 30+ missions, things start out at a gentle pace and allowing the player to find their feet, putting into practice the lessons that have been learned from the training sessions. Worms 2 introduces some distinctly odd mini-games within the campaign that require the player to complete tasks like using the ninja rope to get to the end of a level in a set time. Unfortunately these jar somewhat against the established core of what Worms is all about, feeling distinctly out of place and ending up as a case of trying something new, but without a great deal of success.
While the campaign will hold people’s attention for a while, nothing quite compares to playing against friends either offline or online, and thankfully Worms 2 caters for this. A positive move by Team 17 is to include options for all levels of players, with Beginner, Standard and Pro providing a starting point, no matter your skill level. Ranked matches are limited to two people over Xbox Live, while both private and player matches can support up to four players, so there’s potential for countless hours of mayhem, regardless of how you want to play.
The weapons have always been a highlight of the series, and Worms 2 has them in spades. Even by today’s standards there’s nothing quite as satisfying as lobbing a Holy Hand Grenade at an unsuspecting victim. Or quite as hilarious as an ill-advised rocket being fired full kilter at an enemy, but accidentally dislodging the player from their perch and resulting in an untimely death.
This off the wall sense of humour permeates all the way through the game, right down to the voices used for the different Worms. While the impersonations sometimes fall on the wrong side of The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club, they always manage to stop short of being the `wrong` kind of characterture. You’d certainly have to be a cast-iron miserablist not to raise a chuckle at some of the quips from time to time.
It’s a smart move by Team 17 to release the Worms series as download titles, since they’re perfectly suited to digital distribution. The releases provide the franchise with a new avenue of encouraging those who grew tired of the sequels to revisit the game when it was at its peak, along with those who might only know it by name.