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Worms 4: Mayhem

If you cut a worm in two it most certainly does not grow into new worms. It'll spurt its greyish guts everywhere, convulse a little, ooze out a strange dark-green substance, then die. We know, we tried it when we were kids. Andy Davidson was having much more fun when he was a kid, though. He was creating Worms between sitting exams, just so he could destroy them in more inventive ways. Who'd have thought we'd be sitting here all these years on with Worms 4: Mayhem on our lap, experiencing the closest a current-gen console has ever come to creating the thrill of the original Worms?

Much has changed along the way. If the worms weren't dressing up as Vikings, they were building forts. All the construction and fancy dress stuff was in danger of overshadowing the point - Worms isn't about building, it's about demolition, and that's precisely what you get with Mayhem.

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The basic premise of Mayhem is virtually the same as every other Xbox Worms title - tit for tat turn-based violence using household implements and members of the clergy as weaponry. Banana bombs are so passť, darling! Actually, as well as the usual suspects (banana bombs included), the range of weapons on offer is the biggest yet seen in a Worms game. They aren't varieties of similar weapons dressed in different guises either, but distinctly new ways of offing the enemy, such as the inflatable Scouser. Send the moustachioed menace ambling towards a worm and once he makes contact with them, he'll stick to them, inflate, and the whole permed caboodle will ascend high into the clouds. If you need to make sure you know where your enemy is at all times, just ram rusted masonry nails through their tails. They wouldn't be able to move even if there was a five-year-old stood over them with Mum's best cutlery. And if the default weapons aren't your bag, you can always make your own. See 'Da Bomb' for full building instructions and blueprints!

The customisation aspect of Worms 4: Mayhem doesn't stop there either - it's fun to create bouncing eyeball bombs packed with explosive pork-chops, but there's so much more tinkering to be done. You can now alter your team's physical appearance, adding hairstyles, hats, glasses, and a veritable whore's handbag of other knick-knacks and accessories. Want to see a pissed-up Scottish Jock worm sporting bunny ears and tarty lippy? Who doesn't? How about 'doing a God' and creating and uploading custom-built maps for all to experience and share? Team 17 has catered for that too. You are now the sole architect of your worms' fates, and you can do with them as you please.

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There's still a story element with Mayhem, though - you're taken on a spot of time-travelling with Professor Worm, as he absent-mindedly drops pieces of his craft through various time periods. You have to knock Persian worms into jail using baseball bats, or run the gauntlet of a deadly obstacle course of an evil vizier. It's ideal for breaking up the endless procession of turn-based wormicide - as good as that happens to be, we've seen it all so many times before.

Worms 4 might be like your standard EA-style sports update - fundamentally the same as the previous incarnation, just sporting new features, such as curly turd-bombs dropped from helicopters. But strip away the gameplay and you'll find some natty new touches that have been punched into place, namely with the terrain. It now sustains a considerable amount of damage depending on what surface is struck. Whole buildings have to be levelled in some missions, with construction worker worms crushed under mounds of falling debris, or suddenly finding themselves flapping in thin air before falling to earth with a squelch. Not all environments crumble though. Inexplicably, whereas some blocks collapse with those around them, we often saw the dust clear to reveal a sole, surviving worm stood smugly waving on one of those weird, hovering pieces of scenery that remain suspended when all about it is rubble.

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