Okay, this is not something to be proud of, but I’ll say it anyway – I haven’t had Worms for a few years. In fact, I haven’t had Worms ever since migrating my gaming platform of choice from PC to Xbox. This may not seem like a big deal to many of you, but consider this for a moment: I was around when Team17 first opened the proverbial can, and that ‘beginning’ was in 1995. If you do the maths, that was almost twenty years ago and much like a well-fed tape worm in the belly of a gluttonous elephant, that’s pretty long! To be without Worms for a few years, given my long history with them, is quite a thing. Quite a thing, indeed.
Over the years Worms has become part of the gaming furniture and when it comes to modern artillery strategy games, Worms has established itself as the de facto series with a broad range of titles and spin-offs. Some pundits argue that Worms has long since jumped the shark, regurgitating the same old recipe every once in a while under the guise of a new title. I can understand this viewpoint since it was my initial sentiments when I began playing Worms Revolution after a long lay-off from the series, but after giving Worms Revolution some time, I’ve come to appreciate all over again just how much fun this simple formula is. It’s like my mama always used to say, “if you’ve got a recipe for Lasagne, why change it? Lasagne’s lasagne – it will always taste good, no matter how often you eat it” … thanks mama – and never a truer word has been spoken! Lasagne rocks, even thirty years later!
The latest edition to the well-established Worms family, Worms Revolution, boasts new physics objects, some new weapons, new worm combat classes and, most importantly, water as a force that can be manipulated to your advantage and your opponents’ demise.
Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of what Worms Revolution has to offer, for those not familiar with Worms (I don’t know what you’ve been up to for the past two decades, but clearly you haven’t been living under a rock because otherwise you’d have seen a worm or two in your time), it’s essentially a rendition of Scorched Earth with earthworms instead of tanks. If you don’t know about Scorched Earth then think of Worms as Gorillas except with larger and more random maps and a bunch of new weapons (but still with bananas). If you still don’t even know about Gorillas then I think its best you go back to your homework before your mama brings you your milk and cookies for the night; there’s no hope for you, you’re too young to appreciate the outrageous violence in this game…
Worms Revolution is for all intents and purposes exactly the same style of game as its predecessors, and even though I’d been out of the Worms scene for a while it didn’t take me long to pick up the gameplay mechanics again, although the new weapons and console controls admittedly took some learning at the beginning (and I still haven’t mastered that Ninja Rope with a controller).
Initially I was disappointed by what felt like an unnecessary regurgitated Worms-clone: my first impression was that if you’ve played one, you’ve played them all. However, as I spent more time with my old squirmy friends I began to remember all the reasons why the Worms series has squirmed out of a bargain bin fate and survived almost twenty years – Worms is still one heck of a lot of fun with its whacky (and huge) variety of weapons!
Worms Revolution offers a solo campaign, some puzzle levels, and the multiplayer Versus options (Forts, Deathmatch, and Classic modes) all of which follow the same basic artillery formula but each offering a slightly different take on the gameplay. Nothing new to previous titles, however.
What makes Worms Revolution stand out from its predecessors are two major additions: character classes, and water physics. When forming a squad, players now have the option of choosing their bog-standard Soldier worm (the original recipe) or upgrading (over time, once enough points are unlocked) to a Heavy, Scientist, or Scout. The Heavy worm is slower and bigger (easier to hit), but takes less damage than the others. The Scientist is able to heal teammates every turn and can build upgraded items like improved Sentry Guns or girders. The Scout is nimble, small, and very fast, being able to jump higher and further, reaching places inaccessible by other worms. In addition, the Scout delves much deeper and faster with a blowtorch, and leaves a tunnel too small for other worms to enter. The strategy of choosing which worms to form into a squad, and earning the points to unlock them, adds a very interesting dimension to an already fun game to play.
The inclusion of water and physics objects means that players can manipulate objects in the environment to block worms off or to deal extra damage (by blowing them up). Having water pockets within the terrain just waiting to be unleashed on unsuspecting worms also adds another strategy. If a worm is caught in a swell of water the worm will be swept away and also begin to drown, losing health every turn until he escapes. The constant looking over your shoulder for nearby physics objects that are potential threats to your livelihood makes every movement turn an interesting mix of defence and offence.
Along with the water and physics objects come new weapons that exploit these new additions, such as water bombs, water pistols, and Telekinesis – and of course, more weapons of mass destruction is never a bad thing in a Worms game!
The developers have introduced these modifications right; there aren’t so many changes that Worms has lost its identity and there are just enough changes to make Worms Revolution not feel like a lowly expansion pack. The character classes offer an overdue upgrade to the basic combat strategies in the Worms series and really open up a much more diverse range of tactics. I am still undecided as to whether the classes are balanced fairly because in my view the Scientist seems like the strongest worm to include in your squad but I haven’t been exposed to enough real-life opponents to see if perhaps there are players out there that have a better track record with the other classes.
Despite the new facilities open to players and the way they’ve been implemented, one other thing I felt was nonetheless disappointing was the lost potential to exploit water in other weird and wonderful ways. Your worms immersed in water could be susceptible to electric shock, for example, so it would have been really cool if a battery could be dumped into water to zap those drowning worms, or to set an electrified obstacle by manipulating water and electricity. You know, more creative stuff than just a pack of new weapons for your worms to fire. It’s a small thing but for me it became glaringly obvious in its omission as I played around more with the new water feature.
If you are a fan of Worms but are reluctant to buy Worms Revolution because it’s going to be yet-another-worms-clone, then you will be pleased to know there’s enough new with this one to warrant purchasing it. If you have never played Worms then, again, this is the time to get into Worms with a broader selection of gameplay options available to you. It’s a great addition to the Worms franchise and perhaps has done just enough to squirm out of the icy death grip of those doomsday pundits that feel Worms has long passed its due.
The Good: It’s Global Worming!, fun physics with water; character classes add a new depth to the game.
The Bad: Some purists may feel there isn’t enough new.