PC Game -- Worms 4: Mayhem

"Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I think I'll go eat worms." So the song goes... but unless you want a hefty dose of bazooka down your gullet, it's probably a good idea to leave these particular wrigglies alone.

After the adventurous and not-so-successful foray into the world of tactical RTS with Worms: Forts Under Siege, Team 17 developers are going back to their roots with explosive results in their latest multiplayer romp, Worms 4: Mayhem. Fine-tuning the 3D environments, expanding the volatile arsenal and throwing in more customisation options than a Michael Jackson plastic surgeon, Worms 4 is the best multiplayer bonanza yet.

Gameplay is split up into the usual Multiplayer, Challenge and Story Modes. Story Mode has been made into a more dynamic feature that focuses on specific objectives such as destroying buildings or engaging in gun-slinging duels instead of just making worm mince out of your computer-controlled enemies. Spanning 25 levels over five different environments, ranging from Jurassic Park to the Wild West, the levels feature some of the best-designed maps ever seen in a Worms game. Completing these levels will unlock them in multiplayer mode alongside the 20 supplied multiplayer maps.

Worms 4 has also been pimped with a number of improvements since the franchise's introduction into the 3D realm with Worms 3D. Overall, the levels have been polished with smoother textures, a more responsive camera and splendid special effects for weapons and the destructible environments.

The worm's bevy of hysterical and harrowing weapons has been expanded to include a number of new delights. Of worthy mention is the Inflatable Scouser which fires a tubby Liverpudlian towards an enemy worm, who then grabs it and inflates, slowly climbing into the sky until he collides, bursts and drops his passenger back down to the ground, inflicting fall damage or a watery death. These new additions not only encourage strategic use of weapons but also ensure heaps of laughs.

Team 17 has gone customisation crazy with Worms 4, supplying players with options for designing themed worm teams and stylised rules of play. Feel like swash-buckling your fellow worms as a scurvy pirate? You got it. How about donning a smart Einstein outfit and getting all E=MC² on your wriggling adversaries? No problem. Players will be able to choose hands, faces, hair, glasses and wacky voices for a very personalised worm team.

But wait, there's more. Team 17 has even gone so far as to let players customise their own special weapons. Who wants to be busting caps playing Halo 2 when you can be dropping turds from the sky in a storm of annelid annihilation? After designing your dream worm team from scratch, it's time to construct your own doomsday device. You can choose everything from blast strength and worm damage to homing capabilities. And to stave off delusions of world domination with your brand spanking-new device, a clever capping system has been implemented to make sure weapons aren't unbalanced.

Worms 4: Mayhem really nails the 3D realm in this multiplayer blast-a-thon. Fixing many of the troubling graphical glitches from Worms 3D, Worms 4 has blended the non-stop annihilation of its platforming predecessor into a must-have multiplayer game. Whether you're a Worms fan or not, there's just too much fun to be had with this title, so don't miss it!

Visuals: Quirky, cartoony visuals, hilarious weapon animations.
Audio: Much the same as the visuals.
Gameplay: More depth than its predecessors, but filled with accessible multiplayer mayhem.
Score: 41/2
Developer: Team 17
Distributor: Codemasters
URL: www.wormsmayhem.com
Price: $49.95

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