“You’ve got Worms!” shouted my editor when the Worms Collection arrived at our office. I chuckled quietly under my breath, out of politeness. “I’ve got Worms!” I cried to my girlfriend when I saw her later that day. She didn’t laugh at all, we’ve been together long enough that she doesn’t have to be polite any more.
I know it’s not funny really, but when you have Worms it’s important that everybody knows about it.
Worms Collection is a compilation of Worms (the 2007 version), Worms 2: Armageddon and Worms: Ultimate Mayhem. I imagine most people know the basics of Worms, even if you haven’t played a Worms game it’s likely that you at least know the concept. Still, for those of you who have been living under a rock since 1995 I’ll briefly summarise the concept.
Worms and Worms 2: Armageddon (we’ll get to Worms: Ultimate Mayhem later) are 2D carnage fests. Each player, or AI-controlled, team consists of a group of four adorable worms armed to the teeth with a variety of high powered ordnance. The teams then take turns, one worm at a time, to direct this powerful and often ridiculous weaponry at the opposing worms in an effort to destroy them. Last team (or lone worm) standing is the victor.
There is a lot of strategy and skill involved in this slaughter which is largely dependent on your choice of weapons. Some weapons, like the standard bazooka, are affected by the wind which blows with randomised direction and strength per turn. It’s all too easy for the wind to blow your shot off the map, or even clear back into your worm’s face, but skilled players can use this to bend shots around the landscape to blast an opponent who thought he was safe hiding behind that hill.
Other weapons, such as the classic banana bomb, are unaffected by the wind but are unpredictable and explode with such sheer destructive force that the consequences can be difficult to predict. The resulting chaos can damage unintended targets, blow massive holes in the landscape and send the randomly scattered proximity mines flying through the air.
I’m just going to come out and say it: you can skip the first game. There is certainly nothing bad about the 2007 incarnation of Worms, but Worms 2: Armageddon is essentially the same gameplay with a host of additional weapons, game modes and options. Given that weapons sets are totally customisable per game you can always set a game of Worms 2 to use the original weapons only, start a standard deathmatch and you are essentially playing Worms in any case; albeit on slightly different landscapes.
Both Worms and Armageddon have single player campaigns available, with the first title consisting of increasingly difficult deathmatches while the second game throws the occasional puzzle level in the mix, requiring you to complete a specific objective using a limited selection of tools and weapons. These experiences are a fun distraction and a useful training ground but the real mileage of these titles is the multiplayer experience.
Multiplayer is available for 2-4 players through online matchmaking or by local gameplay, which can be played using a single controller passed amongst the players between turns. Loads of game modes are available - at least in Armageddon - including standard deathmatches, ‘Fort’ mode in which each team starts in a defensive position and ‘Warzone’, a mode in which teams are provided with a stockpile of utility items to form defensive positions before the more effective weapons are unlocked.
Online multiplayer is a blast, but the real laughs are had when playing with someone else with you in the room - whether you are playing pass-and-play or they are just there as an observer. It’s incredibly easy in a game of worms to make a massive and embarrassing mistake usually resulting in one of your worms taking a dirtnap. There are also moments when your plan comes off perfectly or an accident works exactly in your favour. These moments can be genuinely hilarious or immensely satisfying and it really improves the experience if you have somebody else with you to share the laughs or give you a well-deserved high five.
Worms: Ultimate Mayhem adds a whole new dimension to the Worms experience: A third dimension to be precise. Ultimate Mayhem moves the action into a 3D environment, increases the worm-per-team count to six and includes a number of different game modes for multiplayer.
Ultimate Mayhem includes the single player campaigns from both Worms 3D and Worms 4 and is essentially a mash-up of those two titles. The first campaign largely consists of small missions in which the player must complete a certain task, while the second campaign is a much more robust experience than the previous titles with a full background story involving time travel complete with voice acted cutscenes and a shed-load of irreverent humour.
New multiplayer modes include ‘Statue Defend’ where players compete to destroy the enemy’s statue whilst defending their own and ‘Survivor’ in which players use only a single worm at a time, with a new worm spawning upon his death until reinforcements are exhausted. Up to three modifiers can be chosen or randomly applied to each game using the ‘wormpot’ slot machine adding crazy effects like increased weapon damage, reduced gravity or making one worm vital to the survival of the team; kill him and they all die!
Unfortunately the transition to 3D takes more away from the Worms experience than it adds. Gameplay is of a slower pace, shots are harder to pull off when worrying about the extra dimension, and the destruction element is lessened by that fact that there is just so much more scenery around you to take the punishment. The core gameplay essentially runs along the same principles of the 2D titles and there is certainly a lot of fun to be had in Ultimate Mayhem but it does lack some of the sheer frantic craziness of its predecessors.
All things considered, Worms Collection is a worthwhile purchase for anyone who doesn’t own these games already. Worms 2: Armageddon is an absolute blast and Worms: Ultimate Mayhem, despite some flaws, is a fun enough experience and has a decent single player campaign. Worms itself loses out due to being very stripped down compared to it’s sequel, but there is still enough here to provide hours of classic gameplay.
- Great multiplayer action
- Share laughs with friends
- Huge amount of customisation
- Never gets old
- Worms (2007) dwarfed by Armageddon
- Single player experience is lacking