Wormy multiplayer brings down an otherwise fantastic game
Worms 2: Armageddon is like a big, juicy, unblemished, crisp red apple. You bite into it, you savor it, it's practically an orgasmic experience... until you discover that little tiny worm inside, flipping you off and aiming a bazooka at your skull. This Xbox Live re-release is as thoroughly addictive and fun as its predecessors, but a few things hold it back from perfection.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
To date, this is easily the best looking Worms game. It isn't graphically complex, but the cartoony art style and silly animations rock. The new additions to the arsenal all look great. My personal favorite is the concrete donkey animation, which is simply done but hysterical. I particularly like the background animations for each of the levels - these are bouncy, busy affairs that offer a bit of eye-candy when you've destroyed great big chunks of the environment.
Sound-wise, Worms 2 is superb. Everything just works so well and fits into the goofy spirit of the game perfectly. The music invokes the spirit of much more grim wars, with hammy dark overtones you'd expect to see in a flavor-of-the-month war movie. The sound effects are spot-on, and with the addition of lots of new voice types, old Worms players can find a lot to like. The weapons retain a lot of the classic sounds, but that's perfectly fine by me, because this is definitely one of those cases where "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
One thing that bears mentioning is that the aiming reticle can blend in a little too easily into the background. Usually, with a flick of the right joystick, I can find a section of the background that contrasts with the reticle, but this can throw off my aim a bit. An option to change the reticle's color would have gone a long ways towards fixing this.
I love the campaign structure. This is a relatively new element to the Worms games - there have been campaigns before, but they've been a bit of a hit-and-miss affair. The campaign here blends spectacular little brain-teasers with typical warfare. Even for old pros like me, there's still a ton of challenge to be found, especially in the latter third of the campaign. The tutorials are breezy and easy to pick up, everything controls well on the 360 gamepad, and there are a ton of customizable options.
I like the new weapons, for the most part. I'm still getting used to the timing of some, and when it's best to use others, but overall, they don't throw off the gameplay and are pretty awesome. I'm also enjoying the new game modes, although I'm usually getting my butt kicked on the classic Worm gameplay.
There's one fly in the ointment, and that's in the multiplayer matchmaking. When it works during peak hours, it runs smoothly, can find matches fast, and stays relatively stable. But in less than peak conditions, matchmaking is tedious, slow, and often buggy. I've had five seperate occasions of the game crashing completely when going back out to the matchmaking options, forcing me to shut down the 360 entirely. These problems are severe enough that I've docked the review an entire point. If a patch addresses these issues, I will edit this review to reflect those changes. Until that time (or until enough people pick up the game to fill in the void), I consider the multiplayer to be the weakest aspect of the game.
The Worms series is fantastic fun, and this re-imagining of Worms 2: Armageddon is easily the best in the series. Once Team 17 works out the multiplayer glitches and matchmaking, this will easily be one of the best games available on XBLA. As it is now, it's still an incredible game, and I highly recommend it to anyone with an extra $10 to spare.