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Worms 4: Mayhem
PlayStation 2 Review

Mentioning Worms 3D in a conversation with other fans of the series is like to stir up a bit of controversy. Some people view the game as a necessary step for the franchise that, while not 100% successful, did pave the way for a better 3D Worms titles in the future. Others say the franchise belongs firmly in the realms of 2D gameplay, and that the gameplay mechanics simply cannot work in a three dimensional environment. Infogrames' Hogs of War showed us that a turn-based strategy game can work in 3D, and Worms 3D further cemented that - although both games were fundamentally flawed on a number of levels.

Since the release of Worms 3D in 2003, Team 17 have licked their wounds, regrouped and continued working on the Game Engine. They've re-written the code for the worms' movement from scratch. They've changed the way landscape generation works, throwing a deformable height-map into the mix along with the already present Poxel (polygon/voxel combination) system. They've let us tweak our controls, customise the appearance of our worms, even create our own weapons - a far cry from the previous game which wouldn't even let us implement our own flags. The game looks, feels, and tastes a Hell of a lot slicker than its predecessor. The animation quality is fantastic (although some of the animation seen in the PC Demos does, unfortunately, get a little choppy on the PS2), and the expressions on the worms' faces as they react to the environment around them is truly a sight to behold.

However, there are some aspects from the console versions of Worms 3D that have not been fixed, namely the controls. The first person camera is tremendously slow to aim, as is just as slow (if not slower) than the aiming from Worms 3D PS2. This drag also affects the Blimpcam and, to an extent, the third-person camera. While the controls can be fully reconfigured on the PC version of the game, all that can be adjusted here is whether or not you want the axis for the various cameras inverted - options that you'll want to set to "Yes", as the default angles for everything apart from First Person Aiming is backwards by default. There are also occasional instances of Background Music deciding it has better things to do than hang about and watch you play a game of Worms, and so it vanishes for no particular reason whatsoever. Very nice if you decide you want to pop a CD on in the background, but not so nice if you enjoy the ambient feel of a Worms game.

The other drawback is that, due to the PS2's limited specs, texture and colour quality are lost. This is understandable for a console release, and wouldn't really affect most casual gamers, but those of us who spend more time playing PC games than anything else - especially those of us who have played the demos on the PC - will find this very noticeable and, if you're picky about these things, rather irritating. Still, this can't be helped, and Team 17 are hardly to blame for this particular "problem". It also takes much, much longer to load a game once you leave the menu and start playing, but until we play the PC version it's uncertain whether or not this is also due to the PS2's lackluster specifications.

Overall, Worms 4: Mayhem for the PS2 is certainly a general improvement over its predecessor, however there are still a few issues that have not been resolved. Despite this, you would be hard-pressed to find a better multiplayer game on the PlayStation.

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