Game: Worms: Revolution
Developer: Team 17
Publisher: Team 17
Available on: Xbox LIVE Arcade, PlayStation Network, Windows PC
Reviewed on: Xbox LIVE Arcade
For most people, the Worms franchise will require no introduction whatsoever. For others, describing it as an artillery-based strategy game featuring warring invertebrates battling it out on a series of procedurally-generated environments with an array of weapons including shotguns, bazookas, bouncing exploding sheep and thermonuclear bananas pretty much sums it up. It’s a franchise as famous for its tongue-in-cheek, lovably-puerile sense of humour as for its effortlessly addictive gameplay. Despite forays into 3D territory, the basic premise hasn’t seen many significant overhauls since its inception back in 1993, often dabbling with new elements before returning to its original tried and tested formula.
However, the latest iteration is quite different. The aptly-named Worms: Revolution adds a host of new features to the mix, while at the same time attempting to stay true to its roots. In many aspects it succeeds, but is it all good news? Well no, not really. Not quite. Well it might be. I’m in two minds.
Despite being a fan of Worms since day one, I’m no purist. I embrace change in all things, providing that said change is for the better. The biggest problem with Worms: Revolution is that I can’t help thinking that Team 17 have attempted to fix things that weren’t broken in the first place. Inarguably, Worms needed updating if they were going to release a whole new game after so long, but that begs the question of whether we need a new Worms game when the old one – albeit now re-skinned in HD – is still so playable. That being said, it is nice to see Team 17 treading new ground. See? I told you I was in two minds.
The greatest change to the formula comes in the addition of “classes”. You now have four types of worm in your squad, each with different abilities and uses. The Soldier is the standard grunt we all know and love, the Scientist has a huge brain and can boost the team’s health, or, brilliantly, construct some rather awesome heavy weapons. The Scout is tiny, able to move faster and jump further or squeeze through small passages in the terrain, and the Brute packs a more powerful attack but is incredibly ponderous to manoeuvre. On the battlefield they each have their place, and missions will often require considerable teamwork.
The game comes in three flavours. Standard Versus Mode is as we all remember it, with two teams of amusingly-named, oddly-dressed, hilariously-voiced spineless dirt burrowers facing off against each other in a battle to the death. Most of the usual arsenal is present, including the Street Fighter Dragon Punch, Uzi, Sheep Bomb, Air Strike and, of course, the good old reliable Poke, but there are a handful of new WMDs to play with like a pass-over of birds that drop bombs on your enemy. Nice.
The second way to play is the campaign. Spread across several areas beginning with the sewers, the campaign sees you navigating various environmental hazards in order to achieve goals such as annihilating an enemy team or rescuing a stranded ally. The campaign isn’t hugely different from the third mode, Puzzle, except that in the latter you’re given objectives that test your problem-solving skills that little bit more. For example, taking out three scattered worms with one bazooka round is impossible – unless you blow out a chunk of destructible scenery and drown the little so-and-so’s. Things become more taxing when you’re given puzzles with multiple elements, such as using teleporters to swap the positions of two worms, terrain of varying fidelity and limited resources. Prolonged missions are all well and good, but after a while the looped sound bites, hilarious as they initially are, become irritating, and the slow pace – perfectly acceptable in a timed versus mode – starts to feel tiresome.
Graphically it’s a peach, even prettier than last month’s HD Collection. Gameplay works on a 2D plain with 3D backdrops, allowing huge, filthy rats to scurry around in the background of the sewer levels, or alligators to break the surface of the grimy waste water. As a nice touch, the rats will bolt when you let your shotgun off or trigger an explosion. The famous Worms physics are largely untouched, though dynamic water plays a bigger part and you can’t chip away at the environments with a shotgun any more, as only select areas are destructible.
The sound effects are what you’d expect, but with far fewer regional accents and silly sound bites to choose from when customising your worm (in fact most of the customisation options have been rolled back). The addition of Matt Berry as wildlife documentary maker Dan Keystone is a hilarious plus. His dry delivery of some exceptionally bloodthirsty one-liners is reminiscent of Cleese at his best, and his dual role as commentator and guide both encapsulates and enhances the off-beat humour.
VERDICT: All in all, Worms: Revolution is exactly that. Far, far more than simply a HD re-furb, it modernises a series that was showing its age in more ways than one, presenting it as a new enough prospect to entice first-timers but including the classic gameplay that originally earned it such a loyal following. Is it essential? No, not really, but as a slice of enjoyable, nostalgia-baiting fun, it can’t be beaten. Oh, looks like I have made up my mind after all.