Itâ€™s been about fifteen years since the first game in the Worms series appeared, and if first impressions were all you had to go by, youâ€™d think nothing much had changed with Worms 2: Armageddon. PS3 gamers, picky creatures that we are, would sneer at graphics that are really functional at best, sniff at the cheesy audio, and wonder if a game that downloads from the Playstation Network in a handful of minutes could really be all that worthy.
In this age of gaming, which is all about either frame rates or convoluted storylines, youâ€™d be forgiven for thinking this way. And yet the â€˜stick-aroundabilityâ€™ of a game like Worms is so high, and its fanbase so loyal (think Final Fantasy frenetic) that it would appear there is still support for the quirky, the short, and the silly in our games (not to mention the bloody). This is a very good thing.
Worms 2 isnâ€™t all just quirky, short and silly (though it is bloody). Itâ€™s also a game of intense strategy and resource management, where you pit your team of worms against another in random, often bizarre landscapes, in an attempt to blow each other up with a range of bizarre weapons. As well as the worms themselves, the landscape too is susceptable to exploding grenades and rocket launchers, and itâ€™s this precariously shifting setting that provides additional challenge and unpredictability to the game.
You begin the game by customising your team of worms, with special hats, voices, names, and colours (Iâ€™m particular to sombreros with robot voices). Thereâ€™s a handy tutorial that takes you through the basics of movement and strategy, but it does little to capture what it is about Worms 2 that is so addictive. Even the campaign, which a single player can work through if thereâ€™s no one else around at home to blow up, is not particularly satisfying (though by completing levels of the campaign you earn credits to buy different items, such as different hats and more creative weaponry).
Where Worms 2 really comes into its own, is in multiplayer play - and the Playstation Network only serves to make this aspect even more vibrant, as it gives support to online leaderboards, and networked play. (For starters, the AI in the game, while good, canâ€™t really compete with the thrill of playing against another person). There are lots of multiplayer modes, divided into ranked and non-ranked types, with a range of different types of competition available, whether you like it resource-heavy (Crazy Crates) or more difficult (Pro mode).
Worms 2 is never going to replace Heavy Rain, so letâ€™s not even start trying to compare apples and watermelons. But what you do get - a quick, smart, fun challenge that you can sit down and play with your mates while youâ€™re waiting for the pizza to arrive - is definitely not to be sneered at. While the look is indeed basic, donâ€™t let this lull you into a false sense of security; this cuddly numberâ€™s just waiting for you to turn your back. Currently retailing at less than thirty bucks via the Playstation store, Worms 2: Armageddon is a little mushroom-shaped cloud of gaming heaven just waiting to explode in your living room.