Invertebrate combatants once again wage war on home computers in Worms Forts: Under Siege! As the title may suggest, there is a greater emphasis on defensive tactics in this edition of Team 17's long-running, darkly comical series, as the player's team of up to four worm warriors must develop and protect a heavily fortified base. Available armaments include classics such as boiling oil and bows-and-arrows, as well as cannons, catapults, and ballistae. Battles are set in historically based locations such as ancient Egypt and imperial Rome.
As in the most popular previous versions of Worms, Forts: Under Siege! is turn-based; each team member is given a limited amount of time to act, then must wait as the enemy makes its move. Environments are destructible, so the battlefield can change dramatically with each errant shot. As the game progresses, each team of worms works to build additional fort facilities that offer new skills and abilities, and to capture additional territory that can supply the resources needed to create truly destructive equipment, such as air strikes, napalm, and even nuclear missiles.
Although publication of Worms Forts: Under Siege! was originally announced by the now-defunct Acclaim, it is brought to North America by Sega, another publisher of earlier Worms games.
Last year the Worms series made the transition into 3D. It wasn't exactly smooth, but considering the series has been presented in 2D for so many years, one had to give it the benefit of the doubt. With Worms Forts: Under Siege, we're still in the 3D realm but we're working with the construction of buildings which obviously is a new format for the franchise. While it tends to cover up the old 3D problems, there are still old 3D problems. Despite its shortcomings the gameplay manages to capture the same Worms fun that we've all come to know and love.
Worms Forts: Under Siege is a simplified RTS with a wacky sense of humor. Hardcore strategist might get a kick out of it as a novelty while gamers new to the genre will get a crash course in strategy. There's lots of shooting to go along with it but the focus of this game is more on the strategic construction of buildings as opposed to a no-holds-barred action game.
With two teams trying to blast the smithereens out of each other, you will be required to put up both a defense and an offense. The defense consists of constructing various buildings. Not only do they provide protection but they can also be used as tools. For instance, the hospital will bring dead worms back to life and the science building is where you can engineer more devastating weapons.
Battles are turn based. You can have as many as four worms on your team but you only have one minute to make a move. You can move the worm around, build a fort or some other structure or fire some weapons. There's not much in the way of natural terrain to use so you'll have to construct buildings to take advantage of specific vantage points. You'll definitely want one on the cliffs near the ocean where you can set up a gun to pick off the invaders that arrive by water.
Weapons run the gamut from bazookas to an exploding refrigerator containing frozen ferrets. All of the weapons have limited use so you never really get the hang of one before you have to move on to the next one. It's fun to see what's next so I won't spoil it for you.
Several of the main missions include secondary missions which break up the monotony. The campaigns are huge and quite difficult. You can expect to play them over and over as you constantly make mistakes. The tutorial explains the many uses of the features but it doesn't let you experiment. Expect to use a lot of trial and error at first. Getting involved in the two-player online mode later extends the replay value. If you wait until you master the single-player mode, going online feels like you're playing a new game but you'll have the advantage of coming to terms with all of the controls, weapons and features.
The cartoon look is not lost on me. I love the new 3D style but I just think it could be improved in many ways. The camera doesn't always orient itself in the right position even though you pressed all of the right buttons and moved the mouse in the exact direction you intended to go. The primary colors of the various environments such as the sea and land don't blend but change abruptly as they butt against each other like chunks of ice flow. The character models are well done and manage to convey individual personalities despite the absence of a lot of voiceovers.
It may take a while for you to get into Worms Forts. I didn't really like it at first but like a tapeworm, it eventually grew on me.
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