Worms Armageddon Review

Worms Armageddon PC box art

Over-the-top and addicting turn-based strategy game featuring the famed Worms.

Introduction

Worms Armageddon takes the crazy worm warfare to new heights with more weapons, more mayhem and more features. The game builds heavily on the predecessor Worms 2 from 1997 and it was said that Worms Armageddon was going to be the final chapter of the Worms series. Clearly there have been numerous Worms games released across numerous platforms since this game, but Worms Armageddon still represents a peak of 2D Worms games thanks to its approachable design and high level of customization.

The Game

Worms Armageddon is a turn-based humorous strategy game where you play as a team of worms waging war on other worms in bizarre, ever-changing environments using all kinds of crazy weapons. During your turn, you get to act with one of your worms and you have typically 20 seconds or so to make your move. Your move typically consists of moving around, jumping, crawling, squirming and firing one of your weapons once. Your goal is simply to kill off the opponents worms so that your team is the last one standing. Even though the game looks and feels very simplistic it has quite a lot of depth and requires strategy and planning. The biggest strength of this game is the replayability which is virtually limitless.worms_armageddon3

Content

Before you start playing it is recommended that you create your own team. You get to name your team and team members, as well as selecting special weapon and choose the voices, fanfares and tombstone that you want for your team. The tombstone, voices and fanfares are simply cosmetic, but the special weapon you choose will become your signature weapon in games where special weapons are allowed.

More importantly your stats, progress and performance records will be stored on a team basis – and since it’s so easy to create and delete teams, it’s easy to let multiple players store their stats on a single computer locally.

The battle field you play on is destructible. Explosions will eat away at the very ground you stand on, forming the terrain and eventually creating deep holes or leveling it totally. Because of this there are no guarantees that the same landscape features will remain from one round to another. This also means that there may be leftover particles of land after an explosion that can’t easily be seen, but that can get in your way causing some unexpected results. You simply need to keep your eyes open and plan your move carefully.

There are numerous game modes in Worms Armageddon; You can play a single-player quick-start deathmatch game against AI controlled opponents. Your progress will be stored and the game automatically adjusts the difficulty level of your next game based on your previous efforts.

If you want to really test your limits, you can play the deathmatch challenge mode. Here you will play against AI controlled opponents and the more victories you score against them, the harder it will become. You will be promoted in rank when you win, and demoted when you lose.

You can also play the Training mode, which is divided into different areas such as; grenade throwing, bazooka firing, grappling hook use and shotgun firing. You will earn a medal based on your efforts here, and that medal will allow you to take on the mission in the Missions mode.

Other than the training mode you can also try to break your personal record in special challenges such as Super Sheep Racing where you steer an explosive flying sheep and try to collect crates without crashing and the Crazy Crates challenge where you must collect as many crates as possible using the Ninja Rope (grappling hook) before time runs out.

Perhaps the most challenging game mode is the Mission mode where you try to accomplish various goals across 33 very tricky and increasingly difficult missions. Completing missions will unlock new levels to be used in the regular deathmatch and multiplayer modes.

In Worms Armageddon there are around 50 weapons, each of which has its distinct features, strengths and usage. Some examples of weapons are; cluster grenades, mortars, miniguns, shotguns and homing missiles. Not all of your arsenal is directly offensive though; bungee jumping, building walls and jet-packs are some examples of tactical moves you can do on the battle field. Learning to use the various weapons is a lot of fun and requires hours of experimenting, and there are many secret weapons too that can only be found by picking up weapon crates that occasionally drop from the sky.

Across the battle field you’ll also see land mines and flame barrels. They’re randomly placed and will heavily influence how you pick targets as they can easily be used to cause some extra damage to your opponents – seeing an enemy worm fly head first into a mine is satisfying.

Another beautiful thing about Worms Armageddon is that it randomly generates stages to play on. The basic level layout is randomized and depending on what theme the stage has, it has randomized backdrop items and landscape features appropriate to that theme. For example the jungle theme has monkeys and exotic plants while the pirate theme has treasure chests, cannons, and palms. There are 29 such themes to play on.

Other than random levels you can play on image based levels – you could even use your own images and photos to play on if you would want to, allowing for some really insane games. The procedure you’ll have to go through in order to make your own images and photos work in the game will require some basic photo editing skills and that you save the image in the correct format.

Furthermore there is a level editor included in the game where you can easily draw a basic level layout, set some parameters and instantly play on it.

The only shortcoming in Worms Armageddon concerning the levels is the limited map size and it is especially obvious when playing on a high screen resolution.

After each played game you’ll see a statistics screen that will award the worms with various titles such as “most damage done with one shot” and “best shot” etc. Since the game keeps track of the events that occurred in the game, the awards are very accurate and amusing to read through. Even if you play poorly you’ll get some humorous (but not-so-positive) honors on there. This statistics screen and its awards have no other purpose than to provide a comical review of the game, and it is a very nice way to end a game.

Worms Armageddon relies heavily on random factors; worm placement before the game starts is random, what weapons you get from crates is random, the wind is random and levels are random. The way cluster bombs spread is supposed to be random but they always seem to hit your own worms. Many of these factors can of course be adjusted but either way random factors are important in this game. It virtually gives the game unlimited replay value and excitement as no round is like any other. This game is also highly addicting thanks to its random nature and easily approached gameplay.

Controls

When firing weapons in Worms, you aim your shot mostly by eye and with the help of a crosshair. The longer you hold the fire button when throwing grenades for example, the longer the grenade will travel, making it very tricky to actually hit the intended target. A major aspect of the game is the wind. At the bottom of the screen you’ll see an indicator showing what direction and how strongly the wind is currently blowing. This is something you must take into consideration when aiming shots as it has a strong influence over how projectiles fly across the stage. Effectively using weapons will require hours of practice and you’ll notice that your precision gets better over time.

Multiplayer

The real beauty of Worms shows best in the multiplayer mode. Worms Armageddon can be played locally with up to six players thanks to its turn-based nature. You can easily mix up a local multiplayer game with AI controlled teams in five different difficulties and you can set alliances between teams as you see fit. You may also select how many worms each team will deploy. In other words; you can basically play this game how you want, and that’s an important aspect of Worms.

You can also play the game over TCP/IP on a local network, as well as online on Team 17’s WormNET service. It’s pretty impressive to see that the official servers are still up and populated ten years after its launch! Furthermore it’s very easy to set up or join games on there, and it’s nice to test your skill and strategies strangers and friends alike.

The focus of Worms Armageddon lies in its multiplayer games whether you choose to play online, locally or against AI controlled opponents. The game allows you to adjust the game rules on a very detailed level; you can adjust every weapon’s damage, how many of each weapon is given at the start of each game, how mines and booby traps should work and so on. You can save and use your own rule sets or any of the predefined rule sets. It can be really rewarding to fiddle with the many options to tweak the game to better suit your preference, but it’s also a challenge to keep things balanced – you simply have to rely on your own judgment and as long as you have fun with the game, anything goes.

Graphics

The visuals have a comic book style, which has become iconic for Worms games and it goes well with the insane worm warfare theme and randomized levels. The graphics are simple and clear in that it’s easy to follow the action. The explosions do look a bit plain though. Especially the ones supposed to be big explosions as they basically consist of a dust cloud and a comic book type “BOOM” text. The flame barrel explosions look awesome though.
The worm animation is very smooth, and simply watching them closely will make you the witness of many goofy things.

The game does suffer from some occasional and random frame rate stuttering. However, this isn’t a major issue as it usually only lasts for a few seconds. It’s obvious that the game isn’t optimized to utilize the full potential of modern computers. Not even with the latest patch applied.worms_armageddon6

Sound

The sound effects from the weapons are very well made and they all sound great. The worms are very talkative with their high-pitched and squeaky voices. They do utter some funny comments here and there – especially when they appear in their right context. There are tons of voice sets that you can apply to your team so if you get tired of hearing the same comments all the time you can always switch to a new set of voices. The game even includes a special software designed to help you create custom voice sets.

The background music is ambient and experimental. While it has its bright moments, it doesn’t really prove its worth. It does provide a strange atmosphere to the game however. As a matter of fact there is not a single good song in the whole game, which is disappointing seeing that the original Worms game had an outstanding soundtrack.

Summary

In many ways, this game is the apex of the classic Worms series. It builds on solid core mechanics and really captures the essence of gameplay fun. It mixes strategy and action in a very entertaining way and really appeals to a wide audience of gamers. Thanks to its customization friendly nature it will keep players hooked for hours on end.
Worms Armageddon can be played alone or with friends, for a few minutes or for many hours at a time – it’s fun either way and that’s impressing in its own right.
Addicting and timeless are two words that come to mind when thinking about Worms Armageddon, and that should tell you something about the quality of the game.

Developed By: Team17
Published By: Atari
Version Reviewed: Windows PC
Genre: Strategy
Players: 1-6
Also Available On: Dreamcast, PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Color
Released: 1999-05-31

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