PSN Review – Worms 2: Armageddon

You’ve got to give them Worms credit: no matter how many times they get beaten, bruised, shot, mined, exploded, drowned, catapulted, poked or crushed by a concrete donkey, they’re still ready to pick themselves up and get back in to the fight. Their ‘up and at ’em’ attitude is an inspiration for all of us going through the hardships and struggles of daily life, and whilst the situations they find themselves in aren’t the most relatable you can find in a game, they still manage to tug at your heartstrings every time you let one of the hardy critters fade away into the ether.

Or maybe I’m just thinking about this too much. Anyway, the first Worms game hit the PlayStation Network back in 2009 and included all the usual bells and whistles such as leaderboards, online play, trophies and so on. This time, the Worms are taking things all the way to Armageddon, that is, if the title can be believed. Well, that’s actually a pretty big overstatement since Worms 2 feels more like an iteration than an all out game changer. Nevertheless, Worms 2 is still an enjoyable romp through the militaristic world of mini-beasts.

To anyone who has ever played a Worms game before, getting into this second PlayStation 3 endeavour will be a piece of mud pie; the core game and control methods from the previous umpteen games remain unchanged. If, however, you’re uninitiated in the way of the worm, let me give you the run down. There are two or more opposing factions of Worms, each distinguished by their unusual attire and accents, fighting for supremacy over an oil drum littered, mine infested battlefield. To aid you in thwarting the rival teams, you have all manner of devilish contraptions at your disposal. And this really is the must obscure armoury you’ll find in a game; think extremely inefficient, highly effective weapons that would make even Dick Dastardly blush. This assortment of contraptions only gets more loony with Worms 2. The “Bull of Lies” charges along the ground, exploding its way through the landscape, and the titular Armageddon unleashes all hell on the poor saps on the ground.

There's a severe lack of flying sheep laden with high explosives on today's frontline

Now, whilst most of the core game has remained the same, there has been one distinct addition made to it and it’s based on the mantra that everything can be improved by setting it on fire! Whenever an oil drum explodes near the more grassy areas, not only will it destroy a certain chunk of the level but it will also set fire to the targeted area, causing damage to any worm unlucky enough to be in the vicinity. It’s good to see Team 17 try to mix things up a bit, and it does give the game a bit more visual flare but this was obviously conceived to add an extra strategic element to the game, and in that regards it falls flat. This isn’t like including deformable levels which completely changed the strategy of play, this feels unnecessary. The explosions from oil drums offer enough incentive for you to target them, fire doesn’t make it that much more of an appealing option. You could use fire to block off certain parts of the level, but this is negated by  the majority of your arsenal being made up of projectile weapons anyway. So in all, this new mechanic feels fairly useless; it is a new strategy, but pales in comparison to the existing elements of the game.

Among the usual hammer the other team into nothingness modes, there are also puzzles interspersed throughout the campaign. Of course, this being a Worms game, it’s a more characteristically obscure take on puzzles: most of them need you to use pre-selected weapons to make it to an exit point, such as, dropping a mine beside you to blast yourself to the goal, or unleashing some hadoukens and shoryukens on a fellow team-mate until he bounces over to the finish. Some of the other puzzles instead require you to use the traversal tools in the game, like jetpacks and ninja rope. These need a smidgen less imagination than the above methods but they’re still fun and give a welcome break from the turn based confect-’em-up of the main game.

The team building twiddly knobs from the previous game are back and in full force in Worms 2, but now you can customize your wriggling squad even further. This game comes with a hefty batch of replaceable heads for your Worms to parade around in: there are the usual mix of cultural hats to choose from including sombrero, pirate hats and the like but there are also some more noticeably iconic character features like Sackboy and Helghast helmets. What better way to pledge franchise allegiance than to have your army don the caps of your treasured characters. There’s also a bevy of new skins, gravestones and hilariously adorable death animations to have a look through.

Start flooding Team 17's email with requests for Kevin Butler DLC!

The last big addition to the Worms formula is that the game includes a currency system. As you progress through single player, you’ll earn in-game gold which can be used at the shop to buy new weapons, outfits, levels and so on, but there isn’t really much to choose from. With only roughly five or six items under each group, it’s strange that most of them weren’t unlocked from the off, but I guess it does give the game that added lasting appeal.

For the entirety of the Worms franchise, playing the game with other people has been the big draw, and Worms 2 has made this an even more enjoyable adventure. The random terrain generator has been improved so that you now have more control over your volatile playground: choosing the number of items you want to explode or the height of the water is all presented to you at the beginning of the session.

Team 17 have also incorporated some of the aforementioned puzzles into multiplayer, giving you the chance to see who among your party is the most qualified to be a Tarzan-agram with game’s rope swing mode. Of course, if you’re feeling particularly unsociable but still want to be involved in some multiplayer Worms action, you can always hop online and start your own continental feud with players around the world. All of the same game modes from the local multiplayer are present online and it all works as you’d expect it to.

May the electromagnetic force be with you

The newer Worms games have always had a certain mischievous look to them and that’s certainly still the case here. The game looks bright and crisp and the new fire effects up the visual ante for the next Worms games. The sound effects for the weapons have been redone and they sound great blaring out of a TV. And of course the worms are as adorably sadistic as ever, even if their voices haven’t changed in years. But ultimately, the game retains that slightly meddlesome Team 17 charm and it feels like a proper Worms game.

To wrap up, if you haven’t played a Worms game before then this is definitely the best jumping on point. The game is full of fun for newcomers and includes plenty of content. For those die-hard fans looking to embark on yet another spree of global worm-fare, Worms 2 includes just enough iterations to make it worthwhile, though at the steep asking price, it’s hard to recommend to casual fans who have already played and tired of the series. The new modes and weapons are certainly welcomed and there’s no doubt that this is a good game, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that these are still just the same old ‘exploding cattle’ antics from the PlayStation One heyday. Team 17: you have the resources and you have the platform to experiment with. My advice is to think of some crazy concept and just run with it: put the Worms in go-karts or give the super sheep its own 2D side-scroller, anything. If you can keep the Worms series afloat all these years, I’m certain you can come up with some new, brilliant concept that blows us all away just as the original Worms game did some 15 years ago.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

Still includes the franchise staple wacky weapons

Still a lot of fun with friends

Still the same Worms game

8 out of 10