by Howie Howard
previewed on PC
Ten years of warring worms...
With previous hits like: Worms Blast, World Party, Armageddon, Worms 2, Worms 3D and the latest hit, Worms Forts Under Siege, it's hard to imagine that there are any gamers left who have never heard of the Worms franchise. The release of Worms 4 Mayhem, latest in this long line of tactical real time strategy games, will mark the 10th anniversary of the first incarnation of this venerable series. Slated for release later this month, it's high time we took a closer look at what's to come.
Gameplay, as we've come to expect from the series, is furious, fast and above all, fun. I'd say Mayhem fits in well with the previous games in the series. The object of the game is to take your team of 4 worms up against either a computer controlled team of the same number, or a networked human opponent. Your task is to collect all of the crates that appear in different locations around the map. You also must destroy the enemy by using various weapons such as the Bazooka, Grenades, Shot Gun, Poison Arrow, Sniper Rifle, Holy Hand Grenade, Dynamite and a host of others. The Bovine Blitz quickly became my favourite weapon. When I first started playing the game I noticed that a helicopter would occasionally fly overhead and three cows would parachute out. This truly is a sight to behold. I said to myself; "What the heck is this!" When they landed they blew up with a tremendous BOOM and an accompanying large colorful graphic explosion. I was dumbfounded! I then delved a bit deeper into my inventory of weapons and discovered the Bovine Blitz. This gadget looks like a little walkie talkie and it allows you to call the helicopter. It also guides the bovines to their landing site. Your task is to guide them to the vicinity of the other team and thus destroy them with an enormous explosion. I'd almost forget to mention one hazard that should not be overlooked; land mines. They are colorful things that are randomly placed around the map. Step on one and your character will sustain a large amount of damage.
As you take damage you can look around for med kits to heal your worm but the game provides many other helpful items. Every round a new item or weapon is dropped and you can try to find it. Through the airdrops, many items are at your disposal such as a Jet Pack, a Tail Nail (a hammer), Bubble Trouble (a protective shield) and your trusty white surrender flag. The game will ship with an option to create your own custom weapons. I'm not sure how that will work out yet, but it's definitely an intriguing thought.
Easy to run, easy to play
System requirements are not extremely demanding and the game should be playable for any run off the mill gaming machine. The game does require a graphics card with 3D hardware acceleration that supports DirectX 9 and has at least 64 MB of RAM. When your machine supports all this, you'll find that the game graphics are quite good. It's cartoonish in nature and the colors are vivid and very bright. The game takes place in either a daytime or night setting which appears to be a randomized. At night there is a big moon in the sky and you do battle by its light. Daytime combat is wonderful in that there is a bright blue sky and the island I was playing on was surrounded by deep blue water. The water wasn't as harmless as it seems though; If you stray too far into it your worm will experience an untimely death. The battleground consists of a maze of obstacles such as fences, various buildings, rocks and other structures.
Game controls are keyboard based and are relatively easy to learn, they are pretty much standard. It took me a while to learn the different combinations of finger placement in order to get my worm to move in the direction I wanted. The learning curve isn't overly difficult and after a little while of playing the game it will become second nature. The mouse is used to aim the weapon and to choose from the various options and weapons for in game play.