Worms titles have two main things going for them: cuteness, and a love of destruction. Or maybe they just have one thing: a love of cute destruction. Either way, it's hard to ignore the adorable sadism of a game based on the strategic murder of friendly cartoon worms. Worms 4: Mayhem, the series' latest installment, introduces a few interesting new elements, but for the most part, it sticks to the tried-and-true formula of turn-based demolition. In multiplayer mode, you control a team of identical worms who fight on such destructible, hardcore terrains as a medieval castle and a '50s diner. To cause damage to enemy worms—who'll taunt you behind your back, but cower when the tables are turned—you have a wide range of weapons at your disposal. Attack creativity is important, but watch out for water; these worms can calibrate a sniper rifle, but they still haven't learned to swim.
Some games are great because they're simple. The early Worms games fit that bill. So in spite of multiple camera angles and overhead maps, the series' transition from 2D to 3D hasn't been graceful. That pesky third dimension makes it hard to use weapons effectively, or just keep track of your worms. In fact, the updated features have made things difficult in more ways than one. The game is littered with slow, dull load screens, the inverted directional controls are touchy and unreliable, and the physics of jumping can go horribly wrong. Though cute, the graphics remain unimpressive, and the chatty worm banter has become more annoying than endearing. Even one-player modes get old fast. Perhaps the one benefit to the upgraded technology is that Worms 4 is Xbox Live enabled, so you never have to play alone.
Beyond the game: Almost as fun as a tossing a holy hand grenade, the possibilities for customization are endless. Design your own weapon, or just dress your army in pigtails and curly mustaches.
Worth playing for: The weapons. True, the oldies are still the goodies, but there's something timelessly appealing about blowing up an opponent with a sheep or a flatulent grandma.
Frustration sets in when: You have to aim a weapon under a time limit. Though it matters most for long-distance shots, maneuvering even short-range attacks may leave players shouting at their screens.
Final judgment: Worms 4: Mayhem can be a lot of fun, especially with friends. But once everyone else has gone home, all this game really has to offer is nostalgia for the days of 2D.