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One to get buried in.

Those little wrigglers are set on world domination once again as they load their incredible weapons and unleash an all-new world of pain on the gaming public in Worms 4: Mayhem.

Meanwhile, a much subtler assassin is going about his business in the unmissable budget title Thief: Deadly Shadows on PC. There's sun, sea and spikes aplenty in Outlaw Volleyball and word-puzzler Scrabble Blast completes the line-up this week by giving GBA owners a serious headache and sudden need for an Oxford Dictionary!

Title: Worms 4: Mayhem

Platform: PS2

Genre: Action/puzzle

Price: pounds 29.99

The Worms series has thrilled gamers for years now, creating a unique multiplayer experience that sees one annelid army do battle against each other with a wide range of weapons you'd never think these harmless garden creatures would be able to use.

In the fourth instalment, the ammunition gets better and better and wriggling commanders can design and build their own incendiary devices thanks to the genius Weapons Factory. Other destructive toys include floods, sniper rifles and the bizarre "inflatable Scouser"!

A story-based single-player campaign supplements more multiplayer battles than ever before. The new challenge modes and numerous landscape features will keep fans of the genre entertained for weeks, while those new to the series will be instantly hooked.

Title: Thief: Deadly Shadows

Platform: PC

Genre: Action/adventure

Price: pounds 14.99

Adventure classic is a steal second time around

Assassinations, thefts and stealth-based combat is all in a day's work for the "hero" of Thief: Deadly Shadows. The gaming public took to this way of life too when this was released at full price last year.

But now, at a budget rate, it's a genuine steal. Mixing medieval atmospheric individual missions with the uncovering of an overall darker secret, Deadly Shadows is a triumph for stealth gaming and one of the finest-looking and sounding titles around.

The fact that it's a year old is testament to the benchmark it set back in 2004. If you missed out first time around, you'll need locking up if you pass on this cut-price opportunity.

Title: Outlaw Volleyball: Remixed

Platform: PS2

Genre: Volleyball

Price: pounds 19.99

Sand, sweat and swimwear pretty neatly sums up the volleyball experience to be had from Outlaw Volleyball: Remixed. Far from being an accurate simulation of this beach-bound sport, it's still an enjoyable gameplaying experience, backed up by some pretty good graphics and the now-imperative online capability.

An enjoyable tutorial and excellent mini-games will hone your serves, sets and spikes to the point where you are ready to take on the challenging tour mode, or those other Europeans sitting by their broadband boxes waiting for your call.

While the scantily-clad characters highlight the hormone-hungry market that this game has been targeted at, as a sports title there's still a decent game for everyone to enjoy here. Whether you'll still be high-fiving with an awesome tan in a week or two's time is a different matter.

Title: Scrabble Blast

Platform: GBA

Genre: Puzzle

Price: pounds 29.99

One of the classic board games comes to the small screen in this updated version of the original format. All your triple-word and double-letter scoring squares are included, plus the new Blast! mode introduces three new ways to play.

The first lets you score as many points as possible with 100 titles, while puzzle mode features number bombs, where you make words of a certain length and they explode. Finally, you can test your Scrabble speed in action mode, in which the bombs fall faster and faster.

For verbally inclined gamers, this will stand out as an oasis of calm in an industry dominated by death and destruction. That said, the addictive qualities this game possesses and accompanying frustration factor as you reach higher levels could have you reaching for a shoot-em-up to reduce stress levels! Worth a look.
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Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 29, 2005
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