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February 28, 2005
Worms Forts Under Siege - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
2/12/2004THQTeam 171-4PGMedium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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Check out the facial expression.
The Worms series began back in 1994 (yep, it’s been around for that long) with its cutesy tiny sprite worms graphics doing not-so-cutesy things to each other with weapons of ranging calibers and styles (sheep, anyone?). It hit a gaming market which was then familiar to the Lemmings titles, by making a game best described as Lemmings-meets-Tanks; which filled a strange blended niche of multiplayer, puzzle and party games, using ‘worms’ of all animals. The game was phenomenally popular, with ports on numerous consoles, handhelds and operating systems. It had a simple turn-based concept which was easy to grasp and had limitless gameplay when playing with friends. Worms successfully survived the often-problematic transition from 2d to 3d with the release of Worms 3D in 2002; however Worms Forts: Under Siege! has attempted to take a slice of the RTS pie by adding fortresses and towers to the equation. Is it a change for the better? Unfortunately not, in this latest rendition of the Worms series.

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The Egyptian themed level.
For those who have never played any title in the Worms series before (you’re one of a minority if you haven’t), the basic concept behind the game is simple. Each player has a team of worms, equipped with a bizarre and whacky arsenal of weapons. Taking it in turns, the aim of the game is for each player to annihilate the other player’s worms; as you’d expect, the last worm standing wins. Unlike previous Worms games however, the cartoon scenery in Worms Forts: Under Siege! isn’t destructible, but instead you now have the ability to build buildings and fortresses complete with towers, walls citadels and keeps. Worms Forts: Under Siege! comes equipped with a single player mission mode, as well as the obligatory multiplayer mode which we’ve come to love from Team 17. The single player mode progresses through tutorials and historically-set missions, with landscapes and weapons to match ranging from Ancient Egypt through to the Roman Empire. Given the change in gameplay from previous Worms titles, the tutorial is pretty much compulsory when first playing this game, and I found that even a second time helped to get the controls sinking into my elderly brain.

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Look, an explosion!
The main problem with Worms Forts: Under Siege! is that it just isn’t Worms. The Worms series used to be about a fun, relatively-quick game you could play with friends ranging from masters of the game to complete newbies. This however, soon becomes a frustrating and time-consuming drawn out battle against the clock; matches have a default length of up to 40 minutes, but they rarely are definitively finished by then (with one team wiped out). Instead, matches can easily go for at least two hours if you want to draw it out to the end; a far cry from the short matches that Worms fans have grown to love. Mind you, it takes that long only once you’ve found people that know how to play the game; its complexity has risen to heights from the simple move, select weapon, point-and-shoot gameplay style we’ve come accustomed to. Its shine as a ‘party’ game is becoming duller by the moment... the party would soon turn to frustration and boredom with the somewhat excessive controls and methods used in this game.

Single player mode is a further lesson in patience. Now not only do you have to fulfill certain objectives, such as killing all the opponent worms or destroying a central fortress, but you also have to wait for the abhorrent AI that puts all the specs we ever heard about the PS2’s emotion engine to shame. So, that involves spending countless hours watching the computer-controlled worms jumping pointlessly and back and forth just to tick the clock down; where games that should be over relatively quickly soon drag on into boredom-ville. Repetitive ‘wormspeak’ quotes, slow (and non-cancelable) weapons animations further add fuel to the fire. There’s bonus levels and extras to unlock, but when the main game is slow and cumbersome, why would you spend the time just to unlock more frustration?

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Getting ready for a rush!
The screenshots you see unfortunately tell the sad story for the graphics in Worms Forts: Under Siege!. Textures are relatively low-res and are backed by a rather pastel colour palette, giving an overall washed out tone to the game. I realize that Team 17 have tried to stick with the cartoony tone of the game, but couple these issues with low poly-count models (for both the worms and the landscapes), and at times it looks more like a PS2 launch title rather than from the current generation of games. During gameplay, the camera is especially ‘sticky’ too; manual camera maneuvering is awkward, but unfortunately required (unless you possess Superman-like skills and can see through walls).

The visuals aren’t all bad though; while they haven’t been presented to the full capability of the PS2, the ideas behind them rarely failed to get a smile. While favourites like the sheep and ninja rope are gone, there are numerous whacky and zany new weapons that have been fully animated. From a monkey troupe and exploding homing pigeons to bishop launchers, it’s good to see that Team 17 didn’t leave the humour out of Worms Forts: Under Siege! as they did with so many other things.

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It's getting chilly in here...
Audio seems almost to be a forgotten realm for as Worms Forts: Under Siege! added as an afterthought prior to publishing. The background music is more of ambient ‘filler’ than music itself; think of it as elevator music for videogames. Given the large amounts of time spent waiting during the game, it would have been more appropriate to have catchier and more involving tunes in-game. The sound effects are comical and entertaining though, however the ‘wormspeak’ comments that the worms let fly at the commencement of each turn tend to loop more often than you’d expect.

It’s a shame to see a game such as Worms Forts: Under Siege! where over 10 years in the games market has forced some major changes to the game... for the worse. Personally this has been my first venture into Worms in the 3D realm, and I can’t say I’m very impressed in the slightest. If you’re a fan of the 2D Worms games and feel like getting back into the swing of things, your money would be better spent on the somewhat older Worms 3D (Actually not really, the games are extremely similar - Dave), especially seeing you’ll probably find it for much cheaper. Otherwise, Worms 4: Mayhem is due out later this year and might be worth taking a look at, but Worms Forts: Under Siege! is definitely a miss.

Review By: Chris Gobbett

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GRAPHICSSimple models with washed out textures and colours.
SOUNDNot much of it at all really, quite ‘lonely’ sounding.
GAMEPLAYFun with friends if they know what they’re doing.
VALUEUnlocking further levels of frustration isn’t motivation at all.
OVERALLWorms Forts: Under Siege! is a letdown to Team 17’s once-strong Worms series. It’s now a ‘party’ game no more, and is really only suited to collectors that must have all the Worms titles. If you’re remotely considering this game, definitely give it a hire first.

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