Worms 4 is a product of two different ages. The very distant past, where it originated, and the present - hence its bold touchscreen interface and virtual currency.
If you've never played a Worms game before, here are the basics: you play as a team of worms who have to wipe out an opposing team of worms using a generous array of weapons that range from commonplace (grenades) to zany (exploding sheep). Part of the fun is in discovering them all.
The reason Worms has been around so long is that it manages to balance mindless fun with deep strategy. If you don't think ahead, even an accurate strike with your bazooka can be followed by an easy win for your enemy as he uses a grenade to destroy the deformable terrain beneath you and plunge you into the water.
You have to consider where you're standing, where your enemies are standing, what the terrain is likely to do when you hit it with a missile, and so on.
Worms 3 attempted to bring the series into the mobile age with a card-system. Worms 4 abandons this tack in favour of a smaller teams, upgradeable weapons, daily challenges, world events, and an expanded single-player campaign comprising short stages with specific weapon loadouts.
These quick, almost puzzle-like stages allow you to learn about the game mechanics and unlock new weapons to deploy in the multiplayer. Upgrading these weapons allows you to play to your strengths.
Worms with friends
There are three multiplayer options: same device against the computer, same device against another player, and Faction Battle: global real-time multiplayer via Facebook (the asynchronous multiplayer of the previous game is sadly gone).
I wasn't able to get a single Faction Battle up and running, either because no opponents were available or the connection dropped. Despite being on a reliable home network, I also had frequent connection problems when opening chests for goodies, so Team 17 appears to be experiencing teething troubles.
The same device multiplayer works fine, but the smaller teams inevitably make for shorter and shallower 1v1 skirmishes. Multiplayer is the best thing about the Worms series, and it doesn't look as though Team 17 has made the most of it this time around.
Even so, Worms 4 is a slick, mobile-appropriate take on the Worms franchise with a few serious connection problems and a few interesting ideas. But mainly it's just Worms. Cumbersome, frustrating, silly, joyous old Worms. Again.