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Worms 2: Armageddon

Platform(s): Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Developer: Team 17

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Xbox Live Arcade Review - 'Worms 2: Armageddon'

by Jesse Littlefield on July 19, 2009 @ 7:30 a.m. PDT

Worms 2: Armageddon is a 2D turn-based strategy game in which players control worms in a battle to be the last man (worm) standing. Players take turns positioning their worms around fantastical landscapes and use a variety of over-the-top weapons (bazookas, grenades, uzis, exploding sheep, etc.) to defeat opponents' worms.

Genre: Strategy
Publisher: Team 17
Developer: Team 17
Release Date: July 1, 2009

Worms 2: Armageddon is everything that the original Worms title on the Xbox Live Arcade should have been. It plays better, looks better and has significantly more features than the previous iteration of the game. Worms 2 is probably one of the best Worms games ever released, but people who bought the XBLA original will probably feel like they just paid $10 for what essentially amounts to a spectacular apology.

In the event that you've somehow missed out on the Worms franchise through the dozens of releases over the years, Worms is 2-D turn-based strategy game where cute cartoony worms kill each other in surprisingly brutal warfare. Since worms aren't exactly the fastest creatures, movement is limited and you'll often find yourself relying on weapon accuracy much more than trying to get up close and personal with the enemy (there are plenty of options for that, too). A typical match has anywhere between two and four teams of four worms on a randomly generated landscape, and all have been given sets of absolutely ridiculous weapons. Depending on the game type you're playing, some of these weapons will be locked for a certain number of turns, some won't be selectable, and some might have a limited amount of ammo. This is where the strategy comes in, as you must place your worms in the best locations to cause maximum bodily harm while keeping them out of reach of the other team's weapons.

The weapons are by far the best part of Worms. While the previous iteration had just over 20 weapons — the most absurd of which was the explosive sheep — Team 17 listened to fan feedback, and the insane amount of weapon choices that's usually found in Worms titles has made its way back into this new release. This means that the holy hand grenade and super sheep are making a return, as is my all-time favorite (and usually a huge game-ender), Armageddon. The vast weapon selection will likely overwhelm any players who aren't familiar with the Worms series, but anyone who has ever played Worms will feel right at home with Worms 2.

While Worms has always worked best as a multiplayer experience, there's actually a well thought-out single-player portion to this newest entry into the series. If you want, there are single matches that you can play against any number of computer-controlled teams, the AI of which can range from idiotic to masterful. The main offering here is a 35-mission single-player campaign. The campaign will seem like a breeze to the average Worms player, but things get tricky when the game throws a "puzzle" mission at you and you're given limited resources to kill the enemy worms. These missions are so vastly different from what you usually see in a Worms game that it breathes new life into a 15-year-old concept.

Adding more to the title's longevity are tokens that you receive every time you finish a map. This game is just bursting at the seams with items to unlock, ranging from simple hats that you can put on your Worms teammates to new weapons, and every single one of them must be purchased with tokens. It'll even cost you tokens to unlock the final five campaign missions, which are brutally difficult and will often pit one worm under your control against three AI-controlled teams.

While a reasonably expanded single-player experience is a nice touch, the Worms series has always been at its best when played with friends or online, and Worms 2 doesn't disappoint. The multiplayer options are deep, and if the multitude of provided game modes doesn't appeal to you, the title allows you to create your own rules and customize every single aspect of a match. You could make it so that worms can't move, you can customize how much and how often you get to use each weapon, the conditions for victory, length of the match, etc. Whatever you can think of that fits into the Worms formula, you can change it.

That's worthless if the gameplay isn't fun, but luckily, Worms 2 is a blast to play with friends. If you can find the fun in the Worms formula, then you'll be able to spend countless hours with your friends and try to find new and exciting ways to blow up one another. If you can't find friends to drag over to your house for a gaming session, Worms 2 has plenty of options for you to play online. You'll likely end up spending most of your time in the player matches, as that's the only mode that allows four players and game type customization. It's unfortunate that ranked matches, where you'll find the more serious gameplay, seems to limit you to a couple of the built-in game modes and two players, but either way, you'll never spend more than a few minutes trying to find a match. Once you're in the game, things are relatively lag-free, and the game lets you know when your turn is coming up by making your Xbox avatar dance around on-screen before your turn begins.

Worms 2 is by far the best-looking Worms game I've ever seen. While the previous release was applauded for bringing Worms to HD in a spectacular manner, this title puts the original to shame. The sprites are sharper and better animated, and in general, every graphical element feels like it has a wonderful level of polish. My favorite touch is the fire that slowly burns through the environment when certain weapons go off. While the fire and the ensuing damage look absolutely spectacular, the trail of smoke that is left behind is a final touch that really solidifies the game's role as a fantastic-looking title.

For years, the Worms series has been content with reusing the same sound effects and voice work, and while it was charming and delightful the first few times, it was not particularly enjoyable to hear it repeated over the years. Color me surprised when the entire game soundtrack seems to have been re-recorded for this latest release of Worms. While some of the sound effects aren't nearly as memorable as the old ones (I'll never forget the original bazooka sound), the newly recorded sounds mostly come across as high-quality and refreshing when compared to the originals. Even the worms' speech patterns have been updated. While the series has always been known for the massive variety of speech styles that you can give your created team of worms , there were several styles here that I'd never heard before, and they fit right in with the old ones. I ended up settling on the voice that impersonates the "movie announcer guy" and does a wonderful job of poking fun of him.

For the $10 price of admission, Worms 2: Armageddon is a hard game to pass up if you've ever remotely been interested in the series. There's a slew of content here and lots of replay value due to the massive quantity of unlockables and level of customization that the game allows. With a decent single-player mode and an incredible amount of multiplayer content, Worms 2 is sure to be a hit anytime you have friends over, and there's even plenty of fun in the single-player campaign. We're finally getting a fully featured Worms game for the Xbox 360. While it's a fantastic game, people who bought the original will probably be annoyed because they'll feel like they're paying $10 for the title that they should have gotten in 2007.

Score: 8.9/10


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