Me and the Worms series have an odd relationship, I enjoy it but I’m not very at good at it and I have the sneaking suspicion I like it for reasons that are very different from why other people like it. That said I have been craving some Worms lately and I was happy to see Worms Revolution inch its way onto my desk. I’m always excited to see what Team 17 will do to the series next and this entry was no exception. They’ve added a lot to the classic formula here, some of it I like and some of it I don’t, whether this game is for you is going to fall entirely to personal preference.
At its base this is pretty much classic Worms, the gameplay is in 2D with a lot of focus on skillful trajectories and devious strategies; what they’ve added doesn’t change that but it does offer wrinkles that may or may not be to your tastes. The biggest things added are the class system and a lot of physics, so why don’t we focus on those.
The classes are your basic FPS style classes just adapted to the Worms gameplay, though the extent to which they affect that gameplay feels negligible. You see the classes don’t really affect what the worms can do so much as their efficacy in doing it. There’s the Soldier class, which is the same basic Worm we’ve been using forever; the Scientist class, which automatically restores a little health to the whole team whenever his turn comes up; the Scout, which is smaller and faster than all the others allowing greater movement; and the Heavy, who despite being painfully slow-moving is a health bucket who does a tad more damage. All the Worms use the same weapons and tools but they will act a little differently for each type of Worm, the Scout for instance will get extra time when using the jetpack whereas the Heavy will get less. Honestly I don’t feel it’s a dramatic enough change to make it any better than the classic four regular Worms versus four other regular Worms, it just seems like a little extra flavour. That said I’m sure some people will get really into it and have a blast making squad builds out of the four classes.
The physics are another big change though this one actually does add quite a bit of depth, I’m just not sure it’s the depth I wanted. By using water mechanics and destructible physics objects the environment itself becomes a weapon. Large objects such as canteens, dead fish, and lighters can be dislodged from the environment and exploded causing fire, poison gas, or water to spew forth. Water is the newest mechanic with the dual purpose of sliding enemy Worms down slopes and drowning them slowly if they’re submerged. They have even made a few new aquatic weapons to inundate the field with H2O, though their effectiveness relies on careful placement. Using the water to slide multiple enemy Worms down a slope towards the bottom of the screen (and death) is a fun tactic and a genuine cool addition; the drowning aspect I’m not as much a fan of as the drowning process is too slow to feel truly effective. It’s also worth noting that the game has that classic 2D water physics problem where it all looks like it’s made of sticky balls, not game breaking but it’s something that always bugs me when I see it.
Another thing they’ve put in the game is a lot of single player content which is nice but it’s not what I was looking for in a Worms game and I don’t feel it’s super well executed. There is a story…kind of, the idea is that disgraced wild life documentarian Don Keystone has a crazy theory that Worms are actually violently intelligent and he talks to them a lot. Every mission starts and ends with Don saying something to your team of Worms, usually something mean in that dry British sort of way, there’s no real connecting story just funny narration. These little snippets of dialog are generally pretty funny and the voice acting for Don is something that really helps make these jokes work, this makes sense because it’s the work of writer Dean Wilkinson (LittleBigPlanet) and actor Matt Berry (The IT Crowd). That said for as good as this wrapper to the gameplay’s candy is, the turn-based round style combat of Worms doesn’t really fit a single player campaign all that well. The over long tutorial in particular feels quite forced with you only controlling a single Worm with turns ending and then immediately starting again for that same Worm so as to conform to the gameplay mechanics; put simply it breaks the flow of the experience. Really the whole idea of pre-plotted Worms stages just feels wrong to me, it’s the random nature of the maps and the Worm placement that always made me enjoy the game, having already planned out stages like this feels antithetical to the experience. You can of course just go play bot matches of the classic, deathmatch, or fort modes so it’s not like you have to play the single player campaign but I personally think just a set of challenges (e.g. use the prod to kill X number of Worms) would have more true to the series and just generally more entertaining.
Probably the biggest thing this game has going for it though is the extensive amount of customization options available, this was in prior games as well but they’ve expanded upon it here. As before you can you can create named teams of Worms but now you can select which classes those Worms will be, you can give them hats, accessories, voices gravestones, a special fort for fort mode, and victory dances. A lot of that stuff is returning but they’ve done well to add plenty of options to it all. In addition to the making the Worms your own, you can also save customized rule sets for all the game modes and make your own maps with a deep and fully featured map editor. This really is probably the best game in the series for customization and while I certainly have my gripes with the game I do have to tip my hat to them on this subject.
Of course there is still the matter of graphics and this is where it falls most heavily to personal opinion. For me the pure 2D stuff will always be king, the sharpness and adaptability it provides (things like fire burning holes in the map which doesn’t happen here) is exactly what I want. This game, despite its 2D gameplay, is rendered in 3D and it’s done pretty well even if it’s not my preferred style. The backgrounds in particular get a great makeover as they are now alive with extra animation; whether it’s chickens flying around in the barnyard stage or frogs jumping in and out of the pond on the spooky level, there is just a lot more going on. That said I don’t feel, and never have felt, that the Worms themselves transition to 3D graphics all that well. It might be because the design of the Worms is so simple but they just look somewhat off in 3D, all bulgy and smooth, I much prefer the simplicity of the 2D sprites. But of course this does all comes down to preference, if you like the 3D look then go nuts, I just recommend you look at a few screenshots or videos first to be sure.
Objectively this is a fine Worms game, it adds some interesting mechanics and builds upon what’s been put down prior. Subjectively I’m not a fan of this game though, the graphics are not what I want out of the series and I feel like a lot of what they’ve added doesn’t mesh well with the way I want to play it. That’s why my score is right down the middle here, you’ve got to look at these things both ways and unfortunately those ways are conflicting for me on this one. I did what I could to present a fair and balanced picture here and hopefully I’ve given you all enough to help make your decisions on the matter. So for a game I’m not the biggest fan of but I think is an objective improvement for the series that a lot of fans will like, Worms Revolution gets a 3 out of 5 stars.