Worms 4: Mayhem
Up until a few days ago, I had no idea what the Worms franchise was about. I knew the series was reasonably popular and that it had been around for ages, but that was the extent of it. I didnít even know what genre the games existed in, let alone what went on in the games. Since I had heard so many great things about it, once I got the opportunity to play a game in the series, I didnít hesitate to take it. Honestly, Iím pretty glad I didnít.
It turns out that Worms 4: Mayhem is a sort of turn-based, tactical strategy game but it doesnít feel nearly as slow as a lot of the other games in this genre because of the clever implementation of a timer that forces to you to be quick. The rest of the game plays out similarly to any other turn-based strategy: your team controls one side of the map and the object is to eliminate the opposing team which controls the other. There are several ways to go about destroying your foes. For starters, worms canít swim. Any kid who has walked by a puddle on a really rainy day knows this from all the dead worms being washed away. So, if you can somehow knock an enemy into the water through the use of one of the many weapons in the game, theyíll instantly die.
Of course, thatís not always an option as some levels donít take place with a surrounding body of water, and in that case youíll have to resort to firepower, and this is where Worms 4: Mayhem really shines. There are dozens upon dozens of weapons. You can run up alongside an enemy worm, drop a stick of dynamite, and watch not only the worm blow up but the surrounding environment as well. Youíd just better make sure you get away to a safe distance or else youíll find yourself in the bottom of the crater as well.
You can also use traditional firearms like sniper rifles and shotguns to inflict death upon your enemies. But a game like Worms 4: Mayhem is too strange by itself to resort only to traditional weapons, so there are also remote-detonated sheep to toss at your foes, which, much like the dynamite, also destroy whole chunks of the environment. Destroying the environment is a lot of fun, especially in one of the opening levels where some TNT has been left dangerously unguarded next to a diner….
There is a story mode included, but for the most part this isnít the type of game that really matters. The story essentially just links together the levels through the use of cutscenes that are narrated in a really funny gibberish speak. What does matter is that you can create your own team of worms to fight with, arm them with your own created levels, and then drop them to play in your completely customized gameplay mode. You can even go so far as to manipulate wind speed, which will affect the way your weapons move. While the main game alone features 25 levels, including a tutorial, the creation options really increase the longevity of the game even more.
The game takes place in 3D and though it wonít win any awards for best graphics, Worms 4: Mayhem doesnít look that bad. The different worms all wear different hats or hair to differentiate them from each other, and my team of afro-wearing worms was quite entertaining. Some of the explosions in the game look really good in a comic book way, though the flame effects are a bit too coloring book. As mentioned before, each worm speaks with a high-pitched, comical voice, which is a bit like the language of The Sims. Itís too bad that most of the things theyíre saying arenít really funny (the worm-speak is subtitled).
The game is playable with friends on one console or over Xbox Live. Most of my friends didnít really have the patience to wait through a turn-based strategy game, but what I did play was pretty fun and challenging. You can also have the computer control other teams (up to four teams of four worms) to make things a little more challenging.
Worms 4: Mayhem isnít a bad choice at $20. Iíll admit that it really isnít my type of game (I prefer more fast-paced action) but I did enjoy my time with Worms 4: Mayhem. Itís a clever game filled with lots of gadgets and an immense amount of customization thatís usually not found in most $50 games. While it isnít perfect, most of its flaws are forgivable because of the style and the price tag.
Seven out of ten