Do you think this is what people had in mind when they imagined Armageddon? The world chipped away inch by inch by a bunch of militaristic invertebrates squeaking at each other in Scouse accents. Worms 2: Armageddon marks the series’ second appearance on Xbox Live Arcade. As ever, you take command of a team of armed-to-the-teeth worms with no objective other than to take down the opposition by any means necessary – be it draining their life meter, drowning them or throwing them off-screen.
The attitude going into this sequel seems to have been ‘bigger, better, badder’. Most obviously, there’s a mass of new weapons – the two lines of weaponry in the first XBLA outing are replaced by a toy box of destruction that fills the centre of the screen, filled to the brim with Armageddon-themed trinkets to blow your opponents’ faces off, alongside the standard artillery and more strategic tools. The engine’s also been spruced up to include further environmental damage, as fire will now eat away through the scenery – and anything else in its path – for the rounds proceeding certain explosions, in addition to the world already being eroded by standard weapon fire.
The single player campaign now includes puzzle and race levels that simultaneously tax and teach you about the tools at your disposal. Upon completion of each stage you are awarded coins, which you can then spend on more landscapes, weapons and hats for your teams to wear. The multiplayer includes new modes such as Rope Race (as it sounds) and Fort (wage war from opposite sides of the map). Better yet, you can set up your own game styles, customisable right down to how much ammunition each weapon can use. With friends, Armageddon is as good as, if not better, than it was before.
However, it seems ever apparent that, despite the incredibly fun basis upon which the series rests, Team17 cannot create the perfect Worms game. The single player A.I. later in the campaign – as with others in the series – becomes frustratingly perfect, landing grenades upon your worm’s brow from miles away. Irritatingly replays have been removed for all but the most destructive of turns, and the backflip should have been mapped to one of the spare buttons; double-tapping the jump key often leads to a forward leap and a control pad being thrust into your leg in frustration. It is the multiplayer aspect that is harmed the most, though. A combination of lag and the game itself hanging, most evidently on the screens between rounds featuring integrated Avatars, makes for a rougher experience. The matchmaking is poor, taking far too long to find other players, if it manages it at all – Fort games are the only ranked matches that can be found with any regularity. A patch is desperately needed to rectify this.
With friends, the problems can be forgiven, as Worms 2: Armageddon is still as great as ever played with a good bunch of familiars willing to take the bad with the good and cause hilarity at the expense of others. There’s still nothing quite like jet packing over to a rival, bobbing around on them for a while, leaving an explosive gift and then gliding off to safety, and the laughs are even more copious this time with new tools to experiment with. The faults aren’t the end of the world, but a game such as Worms should really be in far better shape online.
Worms 2: Armageddon is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Content Descriptors. This game can also be found on: PC, Mac.