It's a Small Worm After All.
Team 17, makers of the sleeper hit series Worms, is rumored to be working on a spin-off called Krabs. In this new game, you control a militant band of crustaceans as they try to claw their way to the top of the food chain. In addition to employing classic play-mechanics, there will be a host of new options and features you'll be itching to have. Not only can you have Worms, but now you can also have Krabs!
Okay, so I'm lying. There won't ever be a game called Krabs, but in many ways, the original Worm series is like a disease, with its infectious gameplay and innate ability to spread to nearly every system on the market. Even the Dreamcast has come down with a case of the Worms - Worms: Armageddon to be specific. How does it stand up to the test? Well, it's exactly like its PC predecessor, with one key ingredient missing... the Internet.
If you've played any of the Worms games, you're already on familiar soil. Worms is a game about trajectory, strategy, and healthy doses of luck. By controlling an infantry of four worms through turn-based action, your goal is to destroy the opposing teams. Lob grenades, shoot a bazooka, or even rappel over a ledge and drop a sheep bomb. The last worm left standing wins.
The Dreamcast port has been adapted to fit its new host. The menus have been rearranged to work with the controller limitations. All in all, the layout of the controls works really well, effectively substituting for the mouse and keyboard. While there aren't hotkeys or shortcuts anymore, it's still easily manageable.
There are plenty of play options. Deathmatch sets you up against multiple computer-controlled teams. Quick Start lets you get right into the game without the hassle of configurations. Training takes you through an extensive set of exercises to improve your aiming abilities and familiarize you with the weapons. After you complete your training, you can take on some Missions. And of course, multiplayer...
The game uses only one controller for its multiplayer modes. The controller must be passed around to each player. This makes sense and does save you hard-earned dinero, but there are inherent problems with this setup. What if the person you are playing against doesn't want to pass the controller, and decides to make your worms commit seppuku? (then NEVER play with him again. - Ed.)
The graphics look crisp on the screen in all its old school glory; nothing dazzling, but it does its job well. The lower resolution of the standard television means that this is a bit blurrier than the PC version, though most of you won't mind too much. Leave the game alone at the title screen and you'll get to watch some hilarious animations of worms blowing each other up. Hey, maybe they could make a Worms in 3D, since every game under the sun has to be upgraded with polygons. Done right, it could be pretty cool - just another idea to go with my Krabs.
Every weapon has a unique little sound effect that lends the game its personality. The worms each shout high-pitched insults and cries. But you are limited to one sound bank of voices during a game (example: all the worms only have Scottish accents). It would have been better if they allowed each team to choose their own sounds, thereby granting more customizations. There are also fewer sounds available then the computer version; the PC allows you to create your own sound banks, download additional sounds, etc. I missed the Thespian voices - you can't top the sound of a pompous little worm screaming, "Zounds! I am undone!"
Obviously, the system isn't even pushing its resources - not the best graphics and sound, or a demand for processing power. That's okay. But the one resource that should have been utilized is the modem. After all, it's there for a reason. Worms is a multiplayer game tailor-made for network play. I'm just disappointed by the complete lack of Internet support; think of the Dreamcast worms that could have been...
As the Dreamcast matures and develops more network-supported games, I hope they will re-release Worms: Armageddon with everything that should have been there in the first place - network support, additional modules, and maybe a multiple controller option. Nonetheless, this is still an incredibly fun game, worth a try if you have zero-access to a computer and never played it before.