Ringworms, roundworms, tapeworms and hookworms... fish 'em out and fire 'em up because Team 17's wriggling warmongering classic is back. A call to arms for everything without a spine, Forts: Under Siege is Worms 3D (Issue 22, 7.3) but with a more devious repertoire, a brand new strategic angle, and 50-stone canaries.
As you have no doubt guessed from the title, this is Worms with fortifications. Where the aim of the game was once to survive the longest, you're now required to beat back the enemy and indulge in a little Barrett Homes building at the same time. Think of it as Worms gone Populous. There's even wrath of god weapons this time too.
By expanding your encampment into enemy territory and building on map hot spots known as Victory Locations, you earn bigger building structures. These can then be mounted with vast weapons capable of obliterating an enemy in one fell swoop. Developing the best buildings in the best place is obviously the key to success, as is firing off the excellent Rhino weapon now and again. The more Victory Locations you secure, the greater the range of building until, if you're lucky, you'll have hospitals and weapons factories spewing out worms and ammo faster than you can use them.
If you think the inclusion of forts is a gimmick you're sorely mistaken. It's a dynamic move that adds a layer of depth and intricacy to gameplay that feels just a little bit naughty. You know Worms should be nothing more than tit-for-tat retaliation, but with brains it's so much better.
Then of course, there's the Xbox Live play. Our collective gasps of shock when we all found out Worms 3D would not be playable online were obviously heard. You can play against your friends, you can communicate tactics and taunts, and you can undertake vast campaigns against intelligent opponents who'll do everything to employ craftier tactics than you. To say Live play adds life to this title is an understatement.
But, surprisingly, the biggest shock to the system is the wealth of new weapons. Want to trundle around with a massive explosive canary held above your head? Of course you do. What about firing off a giant hippo with dynamite strapped to its back? Be our guest. How about smothering your enemy in flaming hot Chilli Con Carnage? Go grab a spoon and do your worst.
These weapons, plus around 50 others (look out for the fridge bomb which opens up to scatter its explosive contents everywhere) are complemented by the environments this time too. Not to mention the destruction you can rain down on them... Real-world locations have replaced the trippy, otherworldly arenas of Worms 3D and lend themselves brilliantly to the slimy retelling of history's finest moments. Whether you're rescuing Helen of Troy or setting sail across the seven seas only to be attacked by pirate worms, it makes for a far more engrossing experience than any alien worm attack ever did.
It's not without its faults though. Time limits on some levels end up being the biggest opponent and where you'd like to employ flanking manoeuvres and explore your surroundings, you're forced to do otherwise. Slight scenery glitches see the camera sometimes swallowed up by the occasional wall, and the failure-to-success ratio will infuriate some players. But, if you still consider turn-based games a valid concept, and don't mind that you find enjoyment in such a simple game (albeit with a god-sim twist), you'll be in your element. Forts is probably not for everyone, but those of us with hearts as squishy as the loveable mud-chewers themselves will be in seventh heaven.
More worms, more strategy, more fun! Fans rejoice, Worms virgins, come see what you've been missing.