While the last ten years have seen little in the way of innovation when it comes to Worms' trademark turn-based battling, the Amiga original was so spot-on that we're more than happy that the concept has remained largely unchanged in spite of the recent move to 3D.
Of course, many would have you believe otherwise; that by viewing the insect carnage from all angles, the purity of the original game has been leeched away. These people may have had a case when Worms 3D wriggled onto the scene back in 2003, seeing as it lacked the ease of play of traditional 2D efforts thanks to a slower pace and over-complicated interface. However, in Worms 4 we're happy to report that Team 17 has pretty much succeeded in modernising the decade-old series. Unlike last year's fun-but-flawed Forts spin-off, the developer has gone back to basics: fixing, tweaking and stuffing in even more over-the-top weapons.
We'll not waste precious column inches explaining the basics. If you've never experienced Worms before, you really have no cause to call yourself a gamer, suffice to say that the cycle of move-shoot-snigger rotates at such a pace that it seems wholly unjust to call it 'turn-based'. Our invertebrate heroes slink across the landscape at an agreeable rate, no longer snagging on polygon outcrops. Plus, because there's a much-improved camera that tracks shells and grenades as they arc across the maps, more time is spent appreciating the cartoon carnage and guffawing at yours and others' ineptitude.
As ever, the game is stuffed with toys and customisable options, from equipping your team with various items of facial furniture and imbuing them with high-pitched voices, to creating your own multiplayer templates and even creating new super-weapons - although sadly this feature simply involves tweaking a few settings on a multi-purpose rocket-launcher.
Thankfully there are a few all-new weapons, all of which are instant Worms classics, from a sentry gun, a sniper rifle and, my personal favourite, the concrete donkey, which when released can drop through a multi-storey building, often leaving entire teams of stunned annelids blinking at each other across a puddle of water.
In truth, while Worms 4 lives up to its Mayhem moniker rather well, it isn't yet the ultimate 3D version. For a start the fine art of ninja roping is an utter bastard to master - I'm sure the complexities of having to play in 3D are a contributing factor. Some sort of persistent ranking would also have been a welcome feature.
Generally though, Worms 4: Mayhem is fantastic fun, as Worms has always been (Blast and Forts excluded). Some may claim that it's a one-gag game worn thin, but to others like me, Worms is something that will always manage to raise a smile.
To say it's better or worse than versions of old is to miss the point. Worms 4: Mayhem is different in so many ways - the emphasis is now firmly on quickly collecting bigger weapons rather than hiding in tunnels. We may have several years before 3D Worms has exhausted all avenues, but right now, Worms 4 is as refreshing and distinct as you could hope for.
Worms of mass destruction
- Worms 3D - fixed
- Excellent new weapons
- As funny as it ever was
- Still not as intense as 2D Worms
- Nothing new
- 3D roping is a bitch