The Worms franchise has been around for a long time – the first title, Worms, came out in 1995. Since then, there have been a total of 16 Worms titles – including three spinoff titles and a Korean-exclusive online-only variant. Worms 2: Armageddon, then, is about as accurately a numbered sequel as anything in the Street Fighter series.
Worms 2: Armageddon (from now on, just Worms 2) is really a sequel to the smash-hit 2007 Xbox Live Arcade game, simply titled Worms. The gameplay remains essentially unchanged but there’s a lot more of it this time around. An extensive single-player campaign is a great way to learn (or refresh your memory about) the game, with a mix of battles and puzzles to challenge how you approach each situation.
For those unfamiliar with the action, Worms is a side-on 2D turn-based strategy game. Sounds incredibly dull when you put it like that but this is not your average nerd’s entertainment – Worms is universally regarded as one of the fun-est games ever. Rather than using hex grids, drop-down menus and action points, Worms is all about picking your trajectory, lobbing way too many explosives into the air and seeing who blows up when they land. The very ground is destroyed by the explosions and your worms can move around to get a better bead on their evil brethren before blasting them into the ever after. It’s lots of fun, especially in multiplayer mode, with hilarious weapons, such as the holy hand grenade (which blasts out ‘Hallelujah’, as it explodes) and a sheep bomb, which gambols and bleats its way randomly across the terrain before detonating. Another traditional highlight is the comments your worms make after each turn, such as “I’ll get you!” and “Reveeeeenge!” said in helium high voices.
Players start each match with four worms and go up against an enemy team (or three – up to four players can play online or off) in a no-holds-barred deathmatch that doesn’t end until only one team remains. Each turn players can select from their available weapons (some weapons aren’t available on some maps, some weapons take a number of turns before they become available) before deploying them as they wish.
In Worms 2 there’s loads more weapons to play with than in Worms, with many fan favorite (and tide-turning) mega-weapons making a welcome return. The customization options for your team of worms are satisfyingly deep, allowing players to change everything from the voice of your wriggly little fellas (for which there are loads of options) right through to their hats and the gravestones they leave behind when blasted into the unknown.
The campaign mode is genuinely good fun, mixing in puzzle levels that really do challenge you to think outside of the box. There are loads of different backgrounds to play on and the combination of customization options means that online opponents really are recognizably different. There are the odd little quirks to deal with, like smoke trails disappearing or AI players pulling off completely ludicrous shots with suspicious regularity and the between-round animations / camera changes could be considerable smoother and faster. But this is easily the best modern Worms game and just about the most fun you can have with a bunch of smack-talking mates and a crate of your favorite beverage on a cold winter’s night. Highly recommended.