Team 17 has accomplished a very difficult feat, namely improving an already excellent product to gives us Worms, The Directors Cut.
In terms of graphics, variety, and scope, the game is an absolute peach. Both spec-wise and option-wise the game is pretty impressive. 300 colours on screen, 50 frames a second, 9 level parallax and super smooth quarter pixel scrolling is combined with an almost unlimited number of options and embellishments.
The real strength of this new Worms release and what makes it stand out from the original, is the sheer scope afforded by the vast amount of new options.
The ‘Graffiti Mode’ enables players to fight it out on an infinite number of battlefields. Using this little device the player can squiggle about with a mouse, write offensive words or pictures of the human anatomy, press a couple of buttons and transform their work of art into a worm battlefield.
Players have the choice to determine whether their graffiti creation will be above ground or in the same shape of caverns deep under ground. The Amiga will dress your creation with trees, houses and a picturesque back drop to look like a proper bona-fide wormy battlefield.
This isn’t the only new options feature by a long shot – the game is absolutely packed with them. Before playing you can set the lethality of every weapon. You can choose short skirmishes with ultra deadly weapons or an epic protracted battle with weapons as lethal as a feather duster On the subject of weapons, the range available is huge.
Whilst the original Worms had a selection of comparatively unremarkable weapons, this little beauty uses the weirdest weapons ever seen in a game. Sheep for example, are definitely a force to be reckoned with.
The all-new Super Sheep is a deadly accurate flying sheep that, by using the cursors, can be directed around the battlefield at breakneck speed and sent careering into the enemies’ worms.
The Ninja-esqe Sheep-on-a-Rope will strike terror into the hearts of worms as they swing, Spiderman style, across the screen and drop on unfortunate wormy warriors. In addition to the sheep, exploding old women can be sent on suicide missions, they totter up to unsuspecting worms and explode.
However, the best weapons additions are the little topical embellishments such as the postal strike (five presumably overdue letters which drift down from the sky and wreak destruction). Mad cows bound with mental enthusiasm into the nearest obstacle and blow it to bits and using two or three of these will destroy an obstacle a worm is hiding behind and subsequent cows will blow the worm itself away.
The French nuclear testing option is probably the best though. Using this ecologically unfriendly tactic, explode a nuke to the tune of the French national anthem and watch the battlefield slip Muratora Atoll style, a few feet into the sea, drowning any worm unfortunate enough to be in the way of the rising waters.
Some of the worms seem to be developing a certain urban combat gangsta style approach to their battle tactics. Although not driving about hin chopped and lowered Mercedes 190s with huge airfoils at the back and tinted out windows, worms are now able to smack their opponents about with baseball bats or chuck petrol bombs at them.
At this point I should perhaps mention something about the rumoured appearance of a freaky looking 70s Garden ornament made out of highest concrete. But I won’t because it’s just a rumour… alright?
The little pink heroes are much improved and filled out in this version. An unlimited number of worm teams can be saved and each of the battle worms have their unique speech. Just think, Jessica Lange’s swan song would be the ‘Murder She Wrote’ theme or Begbie worm could utter ‘Renton ya wee radge’ before shuffling his mortal worm coil. If you own a sampler there is the option to add your own pearls of wisdom for the worm to utter in moments of triumph or terror.
Another added touch to the new worms and one which brings a tear to my eye and makes me talk in a faltering croaky voice, is the ability to save all your worms, give them names and celebrate their birthdays. Thing is, can you face getting attached when the next moment they could be annihilated by an exploding granny or destroyed by a Ninja Sheep on a rope?
It appears this game has achieved something unique in modern computer games. By enabling players to decide the battlefield, the lethality of the weapons and even the speech of the individual worms, Andy Davidson has designed the game so it can be tailored exactly to the requirements of the individual.
This, coupled with the fact that the game can be played via a network or modem, more or less guarantees that for years to come the game will be constantly adapted and customised by its fans.
I could go on about everything new and unique in ‘Worms, the Directors Cut’ for ages; about the worm to worm ‘prod’ ability (where the player can gently shove an opposing worm off cliffs and ridges) or the networking and modem facilities or that you can have up to 16 people playing in any one game, but I just don’t have the time.
The truth is, Andy Davidson has breathed years of new life into a game that didn’t really need that much new life breathed in to it in the first place. Whilst retaining the playability of the original game, The Directors Cut has refined and polished the product to an almost unsurpassable degree.