The Worms formula hasn't changed much in 10 years. You know the score: control a team of talkative, heavily armed annelids and fight against up to three other teams. It's turn-based, and losing worms doesn't affect your allocation of turns (until they're all dead). So far, so simple.

But somewhere along the way things changed. No, not when it went three-dimensional - when it became all about the special weapons.

In Worms 4: Mayhem, there are poison arrows, sniper rifles, kamikaze fireworks, superhero sheep, inflatable scousers and concrete donkeys - and if those aren't enough, you can invent your own. You tend not to bother with the basic weapons that much any more, which is a shame, because that's where the trajectory-guessing skill comes in. When did video games get scared of simplicity?

Having said this, Worms 4 is still fun, and the silly weapons that disrupt the purity of the gameplay amuse me more than I'd care to admit. What's more, the designers deserve credit for sorting out the finicky movement problems that caused so much stress in earlier versions - the worms will walk over small obstacles now, without you having to jump, miss, fall in the sea and tear your hair out. And those Village People fancy-dress outfits and facial hair are great.
A word on the voice effects, though. If I hear - Where did you learn to shoot? - one more time I won't be held responsible for my actions.

Worms 4: Mayhem: Specs

  • 1GHz Pentium III or Athlon
  • Windows 98SE/Me/XP/2000
  • 256MB RAM
  • DirectX 9.0 compatible sound card
  • DVD-ROM drive
  • 1GHz Pentium III or Athlon
  • Windows 98SE/Me/XP/2000
  • 256MB RAM
  • DirectX 9.0 compatible sound card
  • DVD-ROM drive

OUR VERDICT

This is a franchise that seems to have regressed as it has aged, to the extent that this, its 10th-anniversary release, has largely eliminated skill for the sake of cramming in childish jokes and unsubtle weapons. It's enjoyable, though, even if the single-player missions are too easy.

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