Number of Players:
The Good Press:
Cute little worm voices belie the bloodthirsty mentality of this game. Plus, so many weapons, such little targets.
The Bad Press:
Mission objectives are sometimes a bit hazy. Graphics are a bit on the small side.
From bungee jumping to sheep launching, strategy has never been so much fun.
When it comes to the animal kingdom, worms are probably the last creatures you'd associate with violent territorial battles. Lions growl at and wrestle with each other. Bucks lock horns. But worms?
Then again, their small, inconspicuous nature provides the perfect cover for the world Worms portrays--one in which these little pink pugilists are at constant odds with one another, and they control enough firepower to bring down the Eiffel Tower. Man, who knew?
These, of course, are no ordinary worms. The slimy critters we're talking about stand upright and have big, bulbous heads. They speak in tiny, high-pitch voices, hurling as many insults as they do grenades, while maintaining a generally militant perspective on life.
The worms sound like they're from Liverpool, promising "You'll pay for that!" and "I'll get you" whenever they take a hit. I was even told by a friend that it's more fun to listen to this game than it is to play it, though Worms has to go down as one of the most entertaining strategy games since The Lost Vikings. In addition to the worm mutterings, there are two modes of commentary for English-speaking players: normal and soul man (which sounds like they paid James Brown to call the shots). Choose soul man if you want to laugh.
The basic layout of the game puts you on a 2D level like something out of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids! You're either in a pumpkin patch, on a library shelf, or sometimes on a miniature beach or mountain. These levels are cute and colorful, and they fit the game, though they're not exactly at the cutting edge of graphics technology. However, they do bring back good-time memories of Lemmings with shrunken-down, but perilous little panoramas.
The object of the game is usually to choose a team of worms and then take out an opposing group, using a potent arsenal of traditional and very non-traditional weapons.
The way your worms use these weapons is as hilarious as their voices. They cock their shotguns, put on tiny blowtorch masks, and they even tie on little headbands right before they go Kung Fu on other worms.
Besides weapons, there are various other items your worms can use to navigate the landscape. Ninja ropes and girders let you swing across chasms; bungee cords and parachutes let you survive long drops; teleporters let you go just about anywhere.
You'll have to become highly skilled with projectile weapons to beat the other guys, and that's where training really comes in handy. You learn to manage the wind, which can bring rockets back in your face. You'll also get good at swinging from the rope while dropping mines on other worms, and directing flying sheep across the sky. All this will prepare you for the missions ahead.
Before you can rumble with the other worms, you'll need to create a team. You can select your flag, team, and team member names, and morbidly enough, you're own tombstone (as worms will surely die during these exercises). You can also choose a special weapon such as a flame thrower, among others. Your team can then be used in mission and training modes, and if you create other teams (and have at least one friend), multiplayer mode.
The game is a literal blast, with factors like positioning, hit points, and special items comprising the strategy. Your troop of six worms get 100 hit points each, but there are other ways to skin an annelid.
One shot can sometimes send a worm into the drink, and blasting your way through rock often exposes some water hazard. Shotgun fire and shrapnel can knock worms off cliffs or onto mines. Or, if you're lucky, you'll take an enemy worm with you when you die. (Each worm blows himself up when his hit points reach zero. How honorable!)
Besides managing hit points, you'll also want to be aware of item boxes, which parachute down in the midst of battle. Some are medical boosts, while others are weapons, and getting ahold of these weapons before your opponent does often helps your chances of winning.
Worms is truly intended to be a multiplayer game, because the computer does have a tendency to act predictably, or just plain stupidly. With humans, though, almost anything can happen, especially miscues that end up hurting the attacker more than the target. Grenades can bounce back in your face, or a bad swing on the rope can land you in a hole. This is when you're bound to trigger the greatest amount of laughter among friends. Up to four teams can compete, and you can choose how many victories it takes to win the match (a victory is the annihilation of all other teams).
Like most strategy games, the gameplay of Worms is turn based, and you can select which worm you want to control. You can keep using the same worm over and over while your other worms remain in a sheltered place, or you can toggle between worms. Of course, you don't have to fire a weapon every turn; you can just move, and sometimes, that's for the best.
If you can't scrape up any friends, you can still challenge mission mode, in which you advance through 30 levels of varying objectives. Sometimes, you have to take out the other team, while other times you have to grab a particular item or even take out a renegade worm with only a few hit points to play with.
Sometimes it's sketchy as to just what the final goal is, but if you read the little messages the game flashes, you should get at least some clue. Having a clue of what to do doesn't guarantee victory though, and you'll have to use your inventory wisely since you're only given a set number of items to work with. You also receive medals based on time and style, which adds replay value to the game.
In all, Worms Armageddon is one fine example of what a strategy game can be. It's intelligent, never dull, and has as big a sense of humor as its heroes are small. Sure, maybe its looks won't stun you, but the end of that little dude's baseball bat certainly will.
- Go through the entire training mode before taking on the missions. You'll need the experience.
- Try to knock enemy worms onto land mines, which multiplies the damage they suffer.