Developers Team 17 have been lovingly crafting the Worms series since 1995. The idea behind the game is easy to understand. The player controls a team of cartoon worms who take turns blowing-up the opposition using a variety of comedy effect weapons. The concept is hardly a new one, given the idea is built upon games like Tank Wars and Scorched Earth, but with worms it’s extrapolated to the nth degree.
Worms 2 Armageddon is a direct port of the XBLA version of the game, released back in 2009, but if you’ve ever seen a title in this series before you’ll know exactly what to expect. The first thing you’re tasked to do in the game is setup your team – and choosing the right name for your team and its occupants is an essential task. There’s no point in venturing online without some whimsical play-on-words. There’s plenty of scope for customisation within the ranks as the game allows you to choose gravestones of dead worms, skin colours, a variety of humorous voices and the important victory dance animation.
For those gamers who’ve never played a worms game before, there are three tutorial levels that will teach the basics and more advance techniques that are vital for future victories. It’s important to understand how the different weapons work, as some are affected by the wind, whereas others are not. And there is no shortage of different weaponry with which to cause mayhem to fellow non-arthropod invertebrates; items such as the bazooka, grenades, homing missile, shotgun, minigun, dynamite and air strikes are welcomingly familiar. However, much more imaginative destruction can be caused with banana bombs, lightning strikes, holy hand grenades and exploding sheep.
Appreciating their power, area effect and reach is needed in order to choose the right tool for the job. It’s no use using mines or dynamite when there’s nowhere to escape to, as armaments injure your own team too. Likewise, using a shotgun when a fire punch that plunges an enemy in to the water for insta-death would more appropriate, is just as reckless. There is something very satisfying about lobbing a frag grenade precisely where you mean to, causing not just metal shard devastation, but also making the two landmines teetering on the edge, slide down the scenery for further worm maceration.
Another essential skill to learn is the ability to move about the landscape. Now, being legless really isn’t that much of a problem for the worm expert. Jetpacks and parachutes will allow the angry annelids to get to hitherto unreached areas, but you know you’re a worms master when you’re able to Ninja Rope across a level, dropping dynamite on a bed of worms, and then leaping to safety to watch the resulting calamity.
Winning games and killing other worms results in point rewards. These can be spent in the shop to provide new landscape types and additional customisations, such as different headgear and headstones. It’s a minor mechanism, but it provides an extra drive if the goal is to unlock everything.
Although there is sufficient fun to be had in the battles against the AI across the thirty-odd single player missions, it is multiplayer where this game shines best, be that locally or online. Finding other gamers to play against is surprisingly easy (something of a bugbear in so many other PSN and XBLA titles), so I took Team Regurgitator, made up of Viscount Vomit, Professor Puke, Baron Bile and Sir Sick, in to battle across PSN.
It’s possible to setup a whole host of different parameters in a game, from available weapon sets to time to make a move, and there are a number of different modes including Standard, Pro, Rope Racing and Crazy Crates. Surprisingly the turn-based action that makes up the game isn’t frustrating online; in fact it’s a lot of fun watching other people make a hash of their turns, blowing themselves up along the way. The general lack of headsets in PS3 multiplayer means there isn’t so much trash-talk, but whether you view this as a bad thing is down to individual taste.
Worms 2 Armageddon is a fun and approachable game that’s lost none of its shine since it first made an appearance nearly fifteen years ago. That fact alone should give you confidence in making a purchase. If you need more, it’s bright, it’s charming and there’s enough to keep you going in both single and multiplayer. The only question is why did it take so long to get to PSN?