Review: Worms Ultimate Mayhem

When I was asked to review Worms I went in to the garden, and noticed that worms help to condition the soil.  Their natural enemy is the bird and the occasional fisher, so you can imagine my surprise to find out that worms actually dislike other worms when it comes to computer games.

Back in 1995 Team 17 Software released a turn based 2D computer game that pitted a team of 4 worms controlled by you against 4 worms controlled by the computer AI, who both had to remove the team’s health from 100 down to zero.  To do this you had a mixture of weapons ranging from the close up baseball bats to long range ones such as homing missiles and grenades. Obviously this would be too easy to throw a grenade at the worms, so you had to contend with wind that varied in speed and direction throughout the game. The greatest thing about the game was the comedy that was put in to the game when your projectile hit the enemy such as “ha-ha Revenge”, to when the wind blew the projectile on your own worms leading to that worm saying “Oii Nutter!!” or “Stu-piddddd!!!”

With the passing of time there has been a number of Worms games that have been released for the computer and console market, and 2003 the first 3D version was released. Now in 2011 Team 17 has decided to release a new version of the game called Worms: Ultimate Mayhem. Here lays the first problem, as it is not actually a new game but rather a repackaging of the previously released titles Worms 3D and Worms 4 which were released on the previous generation consoles, and that as far as I can see nothing new has been added to this game, although this is not too bad for anyone that has not played or really liked these games.

On loading the game for the first time you are greeted by a series of videos that inform you as to how the worm’s world is formed, however not once does it explain the controls. For this there is a tutorial that starts you off with a couple of worms on your team as you get to learn how you control the characters and how you fire each weapon. This is a good idea, however I had the feeling that I was not actually learning anything other than what I already knew about Worms games.

There are 5 other modes for the single player, consisting of a quick play option, 2 story modes and 2 challenge modes. Quick play allows you to play on a random map with random teams, whereas the story modes get you to complete four missions before you play a boss round, and the 2 challenge modes give you various challenges to attempt to complete by a set time. These would be great if the game was not let down by poor controls, for example one of the first challenges requires you to use a sniper gun to shot far away targets. To do this you need to find the targets, zoom in and fire. Easy right? No! The aiming method of the analogue stick is so sensitive that just by nudging the stick a small amount results in your Worm moving the equivalent of 5 times what you wanted. What is more annoying than this is the fact there is not settings that can be changed to lower the sensitivity. That put the end to competing in the challenges for me.

With the story mode you are given a series of tasks to complete in a challenging timeframe. This adds a bit of distraction to the game as you have to destroy the enemy worms whilst also trying the complete the adjectives that you have been set, however as the Worms are so sluggish to move and the turn based nature of the game, you feel like you are not getting anywhere.  Once you complete the mission you are greeted with a well done, but might have failed to achieve the target time. Nice as the target time is often harder to crack than a hazelnut with your bare hands.

Another problem of the game is the aiming method that is used due to the 3D nature of the game, which means you have to go from third person mode in to first person mode. Even in the first person view point aiming is lost when you try to set up a shot, when the shot is fired you don’t get put in to third person perspective so you don’t get to see the impact. The most worrying problem with the game is due to something that I have known being in Worms games and is not in this version, and that is the destructible terrain. In the 2D versions of the game you could destroy the map, causing opposition worms to be either trapped or making their shot harder, however on this version you can not destroy anything that is not covered in dynamite. This is a huge failure in my eyes.

So then the game boils down as you against the enemy AI and this is the next problem, as the AI is either complete idiotic by taking life off of themselves or they shoot you from seemingly the most difficult position and wipe out your worms with a shot that would have been only better if it was in point blank distance. The last mode that is in the game is the multiplayer one where you can take on anyone else that is on the game, however saying this all the problems mentioned above are in this mode, but knowing that someone else is also having all these problems does give you a little glow. Whether you win or lose, you realise that a game takes a very long time to play and you will only play this when you have little else to do.

So you might think I have been very critical about this game, but there are some great touches in here too. Via the My Worms option you get the chance to create your own team from the names, how they speak, how they look etc. You even get the chance to update the weapons and the game styles. There are a vast amount of options here to impress here to begin with, but whilst playing the game you will earn coins that you can use to buy extras from the games Item Shop.

Worms: Ultimate Mayhem is a very difficult game to judge as for a major fan of the original version of the games on the Amiga, this game did not fill me with the same feel good factor and is not a game that I will play unless I am bored of other games that I have. Yes I still laughed at the comedy when you miss the enemy, but the slow nature of movement and the terrible aiming method that the game contains just means that I can not inform others that it is a much have game.

If you have played Worms 3D before and you liked it then you might like to play this, however if you liked the original 2D versions you might not find this appealing. If possible download the free trial version on XBLA and try it out. Overall it is not a bad game, but it is not a must have.

Reviewed on Xbox 360


  1. Another review that is not getting close to the most fabulous game ever imho. I’ve been playing the original mayhem for many years (the only reason I stll have a downward compatible PS3) with a bunch of friends – and was always annoyed by reviews comparing it with 2D.
    Well – naturally 3D movement – or let’s say navigation – and aiming is much more difficult, but that’s just a normal effect of putting a gmae like worms to 3D. This step acutally changed the game from being mostly arcade fun to a pretty complex strategic game – an approach you could try in 2D as well but not many players seem to have done that.
    So about some facts I can say: The landscape is perfectly destructible – just in the right amount to still allow you to hide worms and get to higher ground when the water rises – this point in the review is plain wrong. (Played ultimate on the XBOX – and the destruction behaved just as known from the PS2-version.)
    So movement stuff can naturally always be discussed, but the difficult aiming is simply part of the plan – you can even make all weapons be affected by the wind, which we usually do, to make it even harder. This is just done to raise the “arcade pressure” in your turn time – still the physics are fine – you can shoot bazookas long range using ballistics and wind effects just like in 2D. Actually everything is as precise as in 2D – but bubbles and artillery – and so on – just make it a much more complex and demanding strategy game – which I definitely recommend to everyone that has some friends to play custom matches and is willing to train enough.
    It is a game for fans – but for me one of the best games EVER.
    Just to have another oppinion here.

    • Such is the nature of a review, not everyone will agree with it! Some good comments you’ve made there though, I didn’t play it myself and won’t speak for David’s opinions but he had his reasons for not being quite so keen on it. I’m glad you’re enjoying it though, thanks for the response 🙂

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