Born in 1995, I am comfortably old enough to be Worms’ father, if the long running Team 17 franchise were a person , which it is not. Nearly two decades of total wormage have passed, and so the announcement of yet another version – this time a Vita port of a year-old instalment – had some folk scratching their heads and asking: “Do we really need another one?”. The Vita doesn’t trade in throwaway ports and shovelware, however. It has been home to some of the best versions of other multiplatform titles – check out Rayman Origins or Virtue’s Last Reward for proof – and now it can rightfully claim to be the best place to play at being violent invertebrates, thanks to this great version of Worms Revolution.
Time-honoured turn-based artillery combat is once again the order of the day, with splendidly old-school anthropomorphic worms doing battle within an all-new engine, on a 2D plane with 3D backdrops, or what is known in the trade as 2.5D. The cartoon art style, which has remained pretty much a constant factor across the years and looks sharp, bright and cheerful on the OLED, belies a surprisingly deep strategic experience, which is helped along this time around with some nice new additions and platform-specific bells and whistles.
Proceedings begin with a comprehensive, if lengthy, tutorial. Worms veterans would probably have liked an option to skip this and launch straight into the action; however, it does a grand job for newcomers, and like the rest of the game the narration from Matt Berry, playing the role of a faux wildlife documentary maker, gives everything a tremendous comedy bent. Four types of Worm are introduced for you to play around with – each with their own foibles, and their own strengths and weaknesses. Soldiers are your reliable all-rounders, Scientists can generate more sophisticated weapons and also boost your team’s health on each turn. Heavy and Scout Worms are exact opposites – the former being powerful, durable yet relatively immobile, the latter being nimble and fast moving, yet as weak as a kitten. The new classes freshen things up nicely, and are joined by the usual wide array of moves, weapons and gadgets, many of which have a double function in that they destroy your opponents while expertly tickling your funny bone.
There are nods to other games, such as attacks pinched straight from Street Fighter – we challenge anyone to keep a straight face when a worm busts out a “SHO-RYU-KEN!” – and crazy ways of attack, such as employing animals to do your bidding (sheep, moles, skunks and the splendid Buffalo Of Lies), as well as more “traditional” artillery such as bazookas and uzis. The water bomb in the logo isn’t there just for decoration, either. Revolution Extreme makes plenty of use of H2O, and you can now drown your enemies – or yourself – in water obstacles around the maps, or employ new tools in your arsenal like the water pistol to push enemies towards oblivion, create your own water hazards or simply wash them away.
Your aim across the varied 72 levels is to use your turns to defeat your opponents, sometimes solving puzzles along the way. The single player experience includes a huge variety of different areas, including all of the stages that were originally released as DLC when Revolution first dropped. There is a good mix of play styles, with Deathmatch throwdowns, more puzzle-based locations and missions with specific conditions. There is an absolute bonanza of unlockable content, accessed via in-game currency earned for clearing missions, including opportunities to customise your worms and fashion your squad in your desired image, even stretching as far as being able to change the voices of your wrigglers. It isn’t an easy game to beat, either. Sometimes you will find yourself failing repeatedly, and having to start a stage over in its entirety can be frustrating. Like the best strategy titles, however, finding the perfect way to approach a level and executing your plans for mass worm destruction can be extremely satisfying.
In addition to the wealth of extras, the Vita version also has the benefit of unobtrusive, non-compulsory touch screen controls, which sit beautifully with the analogue stick and button options. You can pinch the screen to zoom in and out, or select weapons with a poke of the finger, should you wish. There is easy to access online multiplayer, as well as the opportunity to cross-play with PS3 Worm-ers – including the excellent Treasure mode which allows you to hook up with a PS3 buddy to earn keys in tandem which unlock a whole bunch of extra gifts in locked treasure chests.
VERDICT: Worms Revolution Extreme proves once again that when done well, a handheld version of an old classic can be a superb way to reinvigorate a series and get you playing. We can’t say we were terribly excited about the prospect of another go-around with the worms, but this is fresh, great looking, genuinely funny iteration, and ideal for on-the-go gaming. Crucially, it also offers great value, with a ton to see and do and some well-worked cross platform opportunities. Worms Revolution Extreme is well worth digging up (sorry, couldn’t resist that one).
VERY GOOD. An 8/10 is only awarded to a game we consider truly worthy of your hard-earned cash. This game is only held back by a smattering of minor or middling issues and comes highly recommended.