Worms 4 Mayhem
Once Upon a time, there was a game that made tum-based combat fun. As time passed it gained more and more old women, sheep and holy hand grenades. Then it became 3D. It had seamlessly integrated itself into computing history. Now, the announcement of Worms 4: Mayhem confirms that even at the game's tenth anniversary, there's still no end in sight for the Worms world party.
Ten years ago, if I thought I'd still be talking about Worms in 2005 I'd have laughed at you, says Martyn Brown, the studio director at Team 17. It's amazing really. The worm thing is almost like a part of the furniture here now. It was never intended to work out that way, but I guess we timed it just as the industry went hell-bent on franchise development. There's a saying that suggests you can be a victim of your own success - but the term victim' is hardly applicable given all that's gone before - especially with all that's about to hit with Worms 4."
Worms 4, recently migrating from Sega to the Codemasters stable, is apparently being taken back to its anarchist basics. It's probably the title we really wanted Worms 3D to be, but never had the luxury of time and resources, explains Brown. It brings a much richer balance of play, plus two of the most keenly requested aspects of our fan base; you can customise your own worms and also make your own devious weapons. With inflatable scousers, poison arrows and a bovine blitz option that provides a bombing raid of cows, it looks like you're in for a familiarly surreal experience - not least with the game being spread out over five themed zones: Wild West, Arabian, Construction, Camelot and Jurassic. Animation and worm interactivity have also been significantly upped, meanwhile, and Brown promises that issues with cameras, control and multiplayer that he felt bugged previous 3D releases have had far more attention paid to them this time around.
But how does it feel to be head of a development company that's been entangled in worms for an entire decade? I think it's fair to say that it's been one mother of a roller coaster ride, smiles Brown. It's had massive highs and a few splashes in the water along the way. I've felt sick, been sick and worried sick, but ultimately never became sick of the game itself. Given that it's been ten years and we're still keen as mustard on making things better - that must say something. Roll on Worms 5,6 and 7 then...
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Worms always struck me as docile creatures. After all, the slinky invertebrates spend their entire lives wallowing in the dirt ' not exactly threatening, right?
Oh, but how wrong I was. These little buggers have a murderous cold-edge to them, ready and willing to call an air-strike on you if you even so much as look at them the wrong way. Thanks to Worms 4 Mayhem, I'll never look at one the same way.
The Worms franchise has been a mainstay of the gaming world for over a decade, offering up strategic and humorous mayhem on a small scale. And, to be honest, not a whole lot has changed since the first installment. Worms 4 Mayhem revolves around the same concept of huge weapons dolling out big death in a strategic, methodical fashion. It's hard to deny the delight that results from chucking a holy hand grenade at an opposing worm and watching his death ensue in a hilarious fashion, but as with all things, the charm of a worm's death can wear off with repeated viewings.
Even so, the core of Worms 4 Mayhem is solid enough to help counter-act this issue since you will have to utilize methodical strategy throughout the game. The game still comes off as a bit easy however in spite of all that. Once you get the hang of the game's mechanics, it becomes easy to steam roll your way through the game, especially so since the AI isn't all that bright. Matches quickly become bullying events because the AI isn't too consistent in its death-dealing competence.
The thing that'll keep you playing through Worms 4 Mayhem, however, is the multiplayer. It can be a riot with a group of friends, thanks largely in part because of the game's humorous edge, and you can take it online too via Live!, but finding a match might be harder than you think, given the low population of the community.
Technically, Worms 4 is on shaky legs (which is strange because worms have no legs at all). The visuals are unimpressive, with low resolution textures and blocky environments. The filler effects from explosions and the like aren't all that thrilling nor satisfying; a bit disappointing since half the fun comes from watching the worms bite the dust. Unfortunately, the sound fares a lot worse. Minimalism seems to be key in describing the sound in Worms 4 and even what's there can be grating after a time.
But, hey, at the bargain price of $20 bucks, you get what you pay for. Worms 4 Mayhem won't rock your world with its refinement and it won't keep you on the edge of your seat with excitement, but it's certainly an entertaining and interesting diversion, if nothing else.