Developer: Team 17
Publisher: Xbox Live Arcade
Also on: Playstation Network (Playstation 3)
Console Played on: Xbox 360
Release Date: July 1st [XBLA]
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Despite all the vast technological advances in gaming in recent years, there’s one crucial feature that I doubt anyone could deny is essential for a good game. In case you hadn’t guessed, that feature is gameplay. You can have the most beautiful landscapes ever seen with a wondrous symphony of music in the background, but if the game is no fun to play, no one’s going to play it. In the case of Worms 2, it is very much a case of brains over beauty and gameplay over graphics.
Worms 2 was originally released back in 1997 on the PC, as an obvious sequel to the hugely successful Worms 1. For those of you yet to have experienced the phenomenon of Worms, gameplay is simple, but extremely addictive. The player controls a team of up to eight worms in combat against opposing teams. There is no plot, just a simple matter of worms against worms. These worms are more than your average worm though, with an entire arsenal of weaponry to defeat their opponents. Action is turn-based with each team taking it in turns to move across the two dimensional terrains in an effort to destroy each other. There is typically a wide variety of weapons, some quite obvious (shotgun, bazooka) and some much more entertaining (a mobile explosive in the form of a sheep for example, or a banana shaped bomb). All the action is very much like a cartoon, so such fantasy weapons look extremely appropriate in such a title. So now that you understand the basics behind Worms, why should you want to spend your hard earned 800 points on Worms 2? Because it’s damn fun, and here’s why.
As soon as you load up Worms 2, you are introduced to the fairly wide array of customisation options, namely creating your team of worms. There’s nothing more fun than being able to name your team members after work colleagues that you’d just love to throw an explosive sheep at, or maybe that’s just me. As well as name changes, you can change the voices used by your respective worms. For example, set them to Grandpa and they sound like an old worm, or Rasta to sound, well, like a Rasta. There are plenty of options to adjust, with different victory dances and clothes available, all of which are fun little additions and really do make a subtle difference to your enjoyment. Once you’ve gone through the customisation set up sections, if you’re anything like me, you’ll jump head first into the single player campaign.
There are 35 levels in single player, around 10 more than the first game offered, meaning there is plenty to do. Most importantly, it’s not all about death matches this time round either. There are 11 worm based puzzles which break up the action nicely. Most of these puzzles are based around having to get a worm across a level to an exit point using the minimal provisions supplied (for example, only a jetpack). Some of these levels you can only move a worm by using an explosive to fire him across the level, making things a little more strategical. Other levels at first look extremely confusing, such as one memorable one where you have to defeat an enemy worm who is hidden behind a pillar. To get to him, I had to use an electromagnet to move a land mine towards him, so as to defeat him.
Overall, I found the puzzle levels the most enjoyable as they really did require a bit of thought at times, they also broke up the death match action nicely. That’s not to say that the death match levels are great fun as they certainly are. My only real complaint with the death matches is a common flaw in the Worms’s series; the CPU players are incredibly accurate at times! I will admit now, even after over 10 years of playing Worms, I’m not very accurate with a grenade or bazooka. The CPU however is amazingly accurate, to the point that it can feel a bit unfair at times when they manage to unleash a perfect cluster grenade at you, causing the death of half your team in one swoop. However, I still hugely enjoyed the death match levels. The physics around the weaponry was perfect with events proceeding just how you would expect them to. There were some lovely touches such as when a grenade or stick of dynamite landed next to a worm, he would panic and make a little cute scream at the impending doom he faced. As grim as the concept might sound on paper, the screenshots and actual play show just how cute and cartoony the game truly is.
To encourage further single player gaming, for each level completed you are awarded a certain number of points. These points can then be used in the game shop to buy new items of clothing, landscapes, and most excitingly: new weapons. The weapons consisted of things such as a Super Sheep, Concrete Donkey and the ever elusive, and famous amongst Worms’s players, Holy Hand Grenade. For the achievement hunter, all the achievements have progress checkers to ensure that you can keep track of how near you are to gaining an achievement, a small touch but something that every Xbox 360 game should have.
Besides the single player campaign, there is also a comprehensive multiplayer mode provided. One that will bring you back often to Worms 2. I found it pretty good fun. There were a few problems with lag in places, especially as some matches can involve up to 4 teams competing making action frantic and manic, but overall it was enjoyable. My only concern is whether people will get bored of Worms 2 quickly and move onto the next game, meaning multiplayer might be harder to come by in the future. However this is always a worry for any Xbox 360 game unless it’s Halo 3 or Call of Duty.
Final Thoughts: Worms 2 may not be the prettiest game in the world (although it does have a certain charm about it) nor the deepest of games but it does ooze fun, which if you ask me is the most important thing. For 800 points, it really is a bargain and will keep you playing for many, many hours.
Gameplay – 8: This game just oozes quality gameplay. It would have been a 9 if it wasn’t for the frustratingly accurate CPU players, but otherwise it’s terrific fun.
Graphics – 6: By modern stands, they are incredibly dated but they still have that cartoonish charm, and how could you resist a loveable cartoon worm. Seriously?
Sound – 7: The music may be nothing special, but the various quips that the worms come out with are classic. No one could forget the little ‘Uh oh’ noises a worm makes just before their unfortunate demise.
Overall – 8: Worms 2 is a classic game that manages to still retain its charm after all these years. It might be looking a bit rough round the edges graphically, but blowing up a worm with a bomb shaped like a banana just never gets old. Fans of Worms will love this game; arguably it’s better than Worms 1. Those new to the series should still enjoy it, as it really is quite unique fun. Miss it at your peril!