When did Worms become socially irrelevant? When putting together multiplayer sessions for this review, I was met with a smorgasbord of “No thank you” and “What’s Worms?”. Thirteen years ago, Worms was all the rage. The adorable little invertebrates were on nearly every console from Dreamcast to N-Gage, seemingly cementing their status as gaming icons. Unfortunately, with a current general indifference towards the series, it’s become clear that Worms are no longer an icon, but a relic of the ‘90s. How does Team17 revitalize the series for a new decade without resorting to Worms 3D 2? A revolution, of course.
While plenty of aspects have changed in Worms Revolution, gameplay largely remains the same as past titles. Players control a squad of hyper-intelligent worms that want nothing but to kill others of their kind simply because they can (sound familiar homosapiens?). A turn-based strategy game, there’s a limited amount of time to move a unit and execute a single attack before a turn ends. Whoever gets their team annihilated first loses the match. By default, armies contain five units. Instead of having the same abilities, there are now four different classes of worms: Soldiers, Heavies, Scouts and Scientists. Soldiers are the most balanced class that play like worms in previous titles. Scouts are the trimmest and quickest worm, but can’t take as much abuse. A Heavy is bulkier and can take more damage, but moves at a much slower pace. Finally, Scientists have access to more complex weapons and heal other worms around them. Having classes is a nice addition that adds a layer of strategy going into combat.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of Worms has always been seeing the little guys use weapons of immense power to blow @#!^ up. There’s a huge arsenal to select from, with some components making their first appearance. Weapons like fire punch, grenades and rocket launchers are always available in your inventory and tend to be used more frequently. More “creative” weapons can either be collected from weapon boxes dropped in levels or purchased from acquired coins. There are some pretty zany weapons at play, including a UFO that can “adduct” an element of the environment and beam it somewhere else, or a sheep that can be launched and then exploded when it reaches its target. There are more weapons included than most people will ever fully master, leading to ever-evolving strategies to adapt to.
As solid as the gameplay is, Worms can be a rather frustrating game. Since matches can take upwards of half an hour, depending on the difficulty, it’s annoying to be destroyed at the last second and start over again. It wouldn’t sting as much if the A.I. didn’t have moments of total clarity. While smart A.I is always welcome, shots can be fired that are too perfect. On one occasion, I was about forty minutes into a level when a worm on the other side of the map fired a rocket launcher at an angle over three cliffs into a tiny hole, devastating two worms while drowning them in water. While something like that would be a fluke in multiplayer, an opponent’s ability to make that one-in-million shot will always have to be accounted for in single player. Of course, dumbed-down Worms wouldn’t be any fun, so enjoyment is contingent on patience and a willingness to replay levels. Simply put: those who didn’t fancy the series before will remain unconverted.
As impressive as it plays, the presentation is what really ties the release together. From the first hilarious words muttered by narrator Matt Berry (known from The It Crowd and The Mighty Boosh), it’s clear that this is a first-rate production. The game looks better than it ever has, with a 2D world rendered from a 3D engine. The level design in fantastic, with environments ranging from sewers to the beach. The worms themselves are adorable little rascals, exclaiming remarks like “Fatality!” or “Shoryuken!” when a fire-punch is thrown. Not only are the default quips funny, but the theme of your worm squad can be changed, ranging from Australian to “Movie Trailer Guy”. The look of the worms can even be customized, with options such as sunglasses or fancy hats. It’s amazing just how complete experience is for a game retailing under twenty bucks.
After a string of rehashes, Team17 has done a fantastic job updating the series while keeping the core gameplay the same. With a polished presentation, attractive visuals and improved level design, we finally have a Worms game that doesn’t feel like it emerged from a ‘90s time-capsule. The series remains as polarizing as ever, but those who enjoy the zany antics of the series will dig Worms Revolution.
Version Reviewed: PC