Worms: The Director's Cut logo AGA

Hugh Poynton faces warrior worms, flying death sheep, mad cows and ornamental pack animals.

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.

Invincible Invertibrates
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.

Worms: The Director's Cut logo AGA

Andy Smith polishes his grenade launching skills and steps up for combat. Again.

When Team 17 decided to produce a new version of Worms it seems the brief was simple. "Just put any features in that you couldn't squeeze onto Worms when you first did it. Go mad, have fun!" And that's pretty much exactly what original Worms creator, Andy Davidson did with Worms - The Director's Cut.

And wy the devil not? Worms is a phenomenally successful game that's been enjoyed by thousands on many different platforms - even PlayStation gamers have realised that a game doesn't need polygon characters running around 3D worlds to be fun - and while Worms 2 is still some way off surely there's some mileage to be gained to adding new tweaks and twists to the existing engine?

And those twists and tweaks? A few more weapons (homing pigeons, mad cows, sheep on a rope, concrete donkeys - you get the picture) and the ability to scribble on a blank screen and have the game take that scribble and turn it into a landscape. Or you could do pictures if you want. Or maybe a combination?

The other major game change (well, more of an expansion) is the ability to change the stats for the weapons and things - if you now think a bazooka shot should be able to take an enemy down the first time, then change the strength of the bazooka's shot. There's a league, where two to four teams compete (there are five computer controlled teams of various abilities to play with but it's perfectly possible to create as many teams as you like with intelligence settings from 1 - 10).

There's the familiar 'friendly', plus a tournament mode where 4-8 teams compete in a knockout tournament, with each match lasting a pre-set number of rounds (sort of best out of three type thing)

So there you go. What you now need to know is whether to rush out and buy the game - especially if you've got a lovely AGA machine. I wouldn't bother mate. Shock, horror. Sorry everyone, I just don't think there's enough here to make it a worthwhile purchase for Worms fans.

Sure, if you don't already own Worms - which is a damn fine game, worthy of a Format Gold any day - then you should get yourself down the shops pronto. But if you do already own the original then you're not really missing anything if you save your money by not buying this.

But what about all the new landscapes and the cavern levels and things? I concede that they alter the 'flavour' of the game slightly, but not enough to make that much of a difference. The graffiti mode does make it very easy to create your own landscapes, and that can only be a good thing but it's just not enough to write home about.

I think you're getting the drift now. Sure, Worms is a top game because it's pure competition - in the same vein as something like Micro Machines - and that's why it's great fun and that's why you can keep playing and playing. But Worms - The Director's Cut is just Worms with a bit of icing. Much like Sensible Soccer European Championship Edition (but without the glaring errors, Sensi) which you'd be wasting your money on if you already owned Sensi Soccer in one of its various incarnations, this would be a waste of money for anyone who already had the original.

It's an increasing problem with games these days. Publishers and developers are increasingly scared of innovation. A game costs a substantial amount to develop and if publishers are going to recover that money they've got to make sure they're developing the right games - that often means they take the easy route of producing a sequel.

Call it 'The Director's Cut' or 'Special Edition' and sit back and hope the games hungry public lap it up. Most of the time it works (when there are enough new features to merit a new version) but the price we pay is a lack of innovation and inspiration when it comes to new designs.

Hatts off to Team 17 for having the balls to bring us Worms in the first place but Worms - The Director's Cut looks like old rope to me and I just hope they've got a lot of new ideas for any further games bearing the Worms name.

Worms: The Director's Cut logo AGA CU Amiga Superstar

Price: £29.95 Publisher: Team 17 01924 267 776

Yeah! Like Worms is so 'broke' it really needs fixing, eh? Still, there's always room for improvement...

So what was wrong with the original Worms that needs fixing? Well, let's be honest, nothing. It was, still is, and probably always will be one of the most playable games ever. I've always wondered how Sting must feel when he writes a 'classic'. You know, songs like Every breath You Take, or Message in a Bottle.

I mean, what's it feel like to create something that will forever be referred to? Andy Davidson must know that now, because as sure as we forever refer back to Pacman, Galaga and Donkey Kong in our sad, retro-way, you can be sure that ten years from now (when my goatee is long and grey) we'll be quaffing space beer in a virtual reality pub recalling the 'good old days and Worms' (and won't it be funny when the retro-nostalgia compilation releases include titles like Worms and Gloom!)

OK, I'll abandon my pointless musings for now and instead ask you to do something for me. Now be honest... as much as you love Worms, can you say that you've never sat playing a game and said, "wouldn't it be AMAZING if you could drop weapons on people's heads while swinging over them!" or "I wish I had a bloody intelligent homing missile that could follow you down your bloody Dark Side tunnels!"

Yes, I think we've all had our own little ideas during play, and so has Worm's author, Mr Davidson, because this release is really nothing more than a chance for him to put right some wrong from the original, while also allowing him to add some new, more-bonkers weapons to the proceedings.

As far as the 'righting the wrongs' goes, it's nothing more than a few cosmetic corrections and some bug killing. Now when you tunnel or dig, you no longer leave nasty-looking gaps that give the impression that the cave really ought to, er... cave in. Oh no, now the landscape has two layers: so dig away, safe in the knowledge that all you'll do is uncover the 'inner background'. A silly little addition, I know, but one that does a lot for the presentation.

Other odds and sods have been included, again doing nothing more than making the game look nicer. Use the blow torch and a spray of dust will fly out the passageway behind you, call in an airstrike and the explosions will gout fire as well as devastate the landscape. That sort of thing.

Bloody vandals
The landscape creation has also evolved, with some new terrain types and a lot more control for the user. The most obvious addition to the proceedings is the new Graffiti mode, where the player can take control of the cursor and draw himself a custom level, complete with as many silly features as he wants. You can then assign a terrain type to your creation and sit back while the program fills in the gaps and makes everything pretty for you.

Create a corker of a level and you can even save your baby to disk for use another day. Should you find the graffiti drawing too crude, you can import your own customised landscapes using a paint package such as DPaint.

Following the well-explained guide supplied with the game (i.e. sizes and colour translations). And while we're on the subject of using levels over and over, you can now choose to play an entire match on the same landscape without repairing damage done in previous rounds. Needless to say, with four teams playing, by the last few rounds there are very few trees, bridges, and well... any landscape at all left really!

You can also set the worms to take unused weapons from round to round with them. This means that the strategy goes that one step forward, with players hoarding weapons for those all important last few rounds.

Total control
Young Mr Davidson has gone to town as far as player control goes, allowing the user to alter just about every aspect of the game. As well as turning weapons on and off - as you could before - you can also chose too disable certain weapons until a set point in the game. If you always hated how much damage an early airstrike did to unorganised troops, simply disable it until, say, turn #3.

You can also alter the odds on which landscape will appear, upping the ratio of your favourites - or simply banning the ones you hate! Alter the sensitivity of mines, the damage each weapon inflicts, and even how many times you can fire off your new improved rope to Tarzan across the ceiling (ah, but I haven't mentioned that yet, have I!)

Oh yes, it's all change on the rope front. Apart from having a greater reach, a particularly splendid addition to this tool is that you can act out all your Spiderman fantasies. By pressing the space bar while swinging you send out another rope and 'Tarzan' across the terrain.

Though you might not think this is all that great, that's before I tell you about the new cavern levels. Yes, that's right, one out of every four levels (unless you change the default) is a cave level that has a complete roof. This means that, not only do you have to be more careful with arcing weapons, but the rope takes over as the most important thing ever! Oh, and did I mention that you can now drop a stick of dynamite while swinging over somebody? Yes, I think you're beginning to get the idea now!

So much more
Well to be honest there's chockloads more, but there's more fun to be had finding all of the new touches by playing the game than just reading some fool go on and one about it, but I think you can see that, while this is an exercise in improving an already great product, i's also a chance to let your hair down and just have a good laugh.

Come up against some dead-serious player who's perfected his bazooka shooting and you can simply send an old woman his way (I kid you not) or perhaps order a herd of mad cows to attack. And the best thing about all these crazy weapons is that they're not just dumped in your lap, you have to search for them and, after each match, you'll be given a code that allows you to keep what you've found when you come to play next time -searching for the new toys as you go.

Now it's not just brilliant fun, it's progressive brilliant fun. This is truly classic stuff!

Graffiti road

The new graffiti mode allows the player to draw a crude outline for any desired level. You can change the size of the cursor if you want to get into detail, as well as chose which terrain type will be used. Once happy with your creation, press the Return button and Mr Amiga will fill in the gaps for you. There's also an option to invert the screen, so use the cursor to draw a system of tunnels, invert the screen and you have a corking underground level!

Worms: The Director's Cut Worms: The Director's Cut
Worms: The Director's Cut

You crazy worms
There are tons of new and hidden weapons to play with, and though I don't want to spil all the fun you'll have discovering them for yourself. I can't resist showing you some of them...

Worms: The Director's Cut Though you could argue that the baseball bat does exactly the same as the Dragon Ball, htere's something very satisfying about moving up to an enemy, taking aim, winding back and then smashing them in the back of the head! Even better, knock them off-screen with this and an unseen crowd roards its approval and you get a "HOME RUN" flash.

Worms: The Director's Cut Yes, those fluffy fellas have evolved into a master race of lamb chops! While this sheep deploys as before, a tap on the space bar produces a cape and off into the sky he flies! You can now direction him over your target before pressing space to return him to normal, where upon be drops like, well... like a sheep from the sky really. BOK!

Worms: The Director's Cut Tsch. I dunno, where they get these ideas fom but they're good aren't they? You get ten seconds of a moaning, mumbling, doddering old woman for your money, before she wanders into someone and explodes!

Worms: The Director's Cut See an enemy across the screen but don't want to move from your position? Simple, just use new Sheep-O-Rope (TM) from Ronco! You control the sheep as if it were yourself, and then, once in position, detonate!

Worms: The Director's Cut This valuable ornament should be used like a Mine or Dynamite (i.e. drop it and then run!) only with the added bonus of having exploding shards as well as an initial explosion.

Worms: The Director's Cut Similar to airstrikes (only more humourous) this will send a drifting wad of letters on their way, spreading out as explosions blow them across the landscape.

Worms: The Director's Cut These faithful feathered friends are every tunnel-dweller's nightmare! They're like intelligent homing missiles that, once set free, can negotiate changing terrain to find their target.

Worms: The Director's Cut God speed my lovely heifers! Yes, mad they are, and more than happy to trundle off towards any beef-lover on the level. And guess what? They explode. Great!

Worms: The Director's Cut A devastating new weapon with the power of our lord Jesus behind it (yeah, sure). This works exactly as a standard grenade, only with a set three second fuse and a few bounce, best of all is the sampled "Hallelujah!" that accompanies the explosion - along with the 100 points of damage that it inflicts. Powerful, non?