Worms 4: Mayhem Review
Team 17 have worked tirelessly on the Worms series for the best part of a decade, and arguably, their games peaked with Worms Armageddon on the PC and Playstation a while back. The transition into 3D games came with Worms 3D, which met mixed reviews from critics and fans. Some disagree with the change of style, but there are few successful 2D games nowadays, and none which have had six or seven previous games in their series. With this, the third title in the 3D lineup, have Team 17 and Codemasters finally achieved the fun and extremely playable game we saw with the 2D titles?
Well, firstly, we need to clarify a few things. Worms 3D was a very good game; it was fun, big, and diverse, something which is very necessary in repetitive games. Repetition is not a bad thing, because the thing Team 17 has managed to repeat is the fun, and the tried and tested element of team strategy that made all the Worms games work. Apart from one. Don’t panic! I’m not talking about Worms 4, it’s Worms: Forts Under Siege that I could not agree with. Gone was the destructible scenery, the ninja ropes, and the fun – it is of course only my opinion, but that was not a valid reflection of the series so far, and I was very worried that Team 17 had got themselves into a hole.
Then came Mayhem......Worms 4: Mayhem, and various announcements of the return of destructible scenery, random maps, and the beloved ninja rope made us sure that this would be a hit with Worms fans. Codemasters appear to have had a lot of input into this, as there is a much smoother learning curve, tutorials and more action due to an improved level structure. Sure, the idea of slimy, gender confused, mini combine-harvesters destroying each other may not appeal to the spawn killing runts of the modern day, but for those wishing to have fun with friends, there is no better answer.
The formula for Worms, for those who have never delved into the series is a fun, turn based, strategy game,
which focuses on the multiplayer factor. You control a team of up to six worms in third person, and move them individually with the control stick, much like in a third person shooter. You are pitted with, and against other AI or human controlled teams, and must eliminate the enemy worms. The strategy comes in many forms. For example, you have a time limit, meaning you need to get where you want to go, choose a weapon or item, and use it within the default setting of 45 seconds. If you want to win, you need to use assorted landscape elements such as height, cover, and hazards.
These hazards include mines that the game places across the landscape (with a new feature being a mine machine, which spews out new ones as the old ones are used, or as it wants to make the level more uncomfortable) and if you go too close to these, you have a short time to jump out of the way or be blown to smithereens. You can also shoot these mines into the enemy, lay your own, or blow up weapon, health or tool crates to create the same effect – a big explosion.
When choosing a weapon, they range from a bazooka (of infinite ammo), to a sniper rifle, an air strike, or a homing missile. Each weapon of your arsenal has different attributes, pros and cons to make you consider their usage. For example, a shotgun is able to be used twice in one turn, but a bazooka does more damage. A bazooka is affected by the wind, but can be jumped across the water like a skimming stone (another new feature). You then come across the more humorous armaments, including the old favourites ‘super sheep’ (a fluffy farm yard creature wearing a cape, which can be steered remotely into a target), ‘holy hand grenade’ (a grenade that deals huge damage and looks and sounds holy upon detonation) and ‘old lady’ (an old lady who walks and mumbles towards the enemy and eventually explodes, reflecting real life experiences).
These shape the tone of the game, into a fun and light-hearted experience. Other items such as the infamous ninja rope must be used to get into decent positions in game, such as a high bridge or point on the map. The rope can be attached to near objects, then you can reel yourself in to the target. A new ability to rope in crates has also been added to the game, a useful tool for sure. The return of multi-roping (a term TGSN just invented) that allows you to disconnect, swing, then reconnect again to cover more ground takes real skill, and you begin to learn that Worms isn’t all about pick up and play ethics. There are many other items and weapons, the jet pack, allowing you to drop weapons on the enemy from height, or to access other areas - the air strikes, which drop anything from bombs to sheep at the enemy, causing real damage to the landscape, with everything being destructible.
With those gameplay basics covered, the more advanced features can be addressed. There is a whole new level of customisation on your worms, with hats, glasses and gloves all available for use in different themed styles. The famous voice banks are back, ranging from a secret agent to a spaceman, and there is a new ability to ‘create a weapon’ – which does as it sounds, but isn’t too highly functional – i.e. we don’t find it extends the gameplay value greatly.
The single player is as fun as it has always been, which is to say that it’s very addictive and suitably challenging, but the older versions weren’t too immersing. This time around, you can choose your customised team to play through the campaign with, and they are included in all the cut scenes (some of which are very well animated in a cartoon style, similar to that experienced in Worms 2). The missions are usually search and destroy, but some you must blow up dynamite, use only 1 weapon, or collect items – overally varied sorties. There are 25 single player missions, all placed in uniquely designed levels – all these levels are then available (to buy for points you gain after each mission) to use in the multiplayer, as well as another 20 multiplayer maps, and the random maps in the zones of Jurassic, Camelot, Arabian, Construction and Wild West. Overall it’s a very large experience.
You can also unlock new costumes, voices and other goodies by playing through the single player – making it even more customisable. Speaking of which, the ‘Wormpot’ has returned, allowing for random settings, and thousands of possible game combinations. There are now new multiplayer modes, with tasks such as defend or attack, mirroring the FPS favourite ‘Assault’ mode. Before, we’ve only had the standard 6v6 or deathmatch, and with these new modes, it adds a whole new type of fun.
For the die hard fans, almost all of the old favourite weapons are there, and for the new players, you have great new items such as the sentry gun (a deployable drone gun that targets any moving character in range) and the online experience should please everyone. You can use your customised team and weapons online, and it runs smoothly across Xbox and PC. Codemasters have allowed Team 17 to keep nearly all of the old features, but clearly have inputted invaluably into the gameplay to subtely revolutionise the series.
To finish, Worms 4 has everything you could want in a Worms game, it even retains the cracking music from Worms Armageddon on the menu screens, and the new features are enough to bring in new players. Online, it comes into it’s own, offline and with others it’s still a great game, but the single player campaign may get tiresome if you aren’t doing it to unlock extras.
By Michael Hazleton - Mongoose
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