I know as a journalist and reviewer you’re supposed to be impartial and unbiased. But there are times when it’s incredibly difficult. Being given the honour of reviewing the latest iteration of Worms has been one of those times.
If like me you grew up in the 90s Worms will no doubt be one of those games that ate large portions of your life. That is unless you spent most of your formative years in a cardboard box or playing. outside? I can remember days spent huddled round an Amiga and then later a PC with my mates playing what was and still is one of the best multiplayer games ever made. Powerful weaponry, a chaotic sense humour and sheep packed with dynamite. Yelling “Incoming” while launching anything at someone within the digital or real world became the norm for millions of kids and to this day it still brings a smile to my face to hear it.
Then came the new millennium and Worms decided to bring the fighting into the third dimension and something was lost. It was still the same deformed little critters creating mayhem. But it just wasn’t the same. Weapons became too hefty, the world too cluttered movement too slow.
So when I heard that the new game was going back its roots in a similar way that Street Fighter IV did with 2.5D graphics and most and the game stripped back down to its fundamentals but at the same time being updated for the shiny HD world of 2012 the ten year old in me was jumping around like he’d just downed a bucket of sherbet. But then the usual scepticism seeps in. Will this game live up to the originals, with long running series getting reinventions and reboots almost on a daily basis recently it pays to be apprehensive.
However I have to say that Worms Revolution has managed to Fire Punch its way straight back into my heart just like that game with a similar move in it whose name escapes me now. Fighting Street was it? Never mind.
At its core it is still the game we all grew up with; each player has a team of four worms, armed to the teeth, last team left standing is the winner. Weaponry ranges from Bazookas and Uzis to air strikes and exploding sheep. Players take turns to try and out fox each other and do as much damage as possible often with hilarious results, especially if something backfires. Mines and explosive barrels litter the levels and effectively avoiding and using these hazards to inflict more pain on your opponents is still as satisfying as it was seventeen years ago.
However this isn’t just the same game with a shiny new coat of polygons, Team 17 have added several new features to help rejuvenate the aging formula.
Soldiers are all-rounder’s and are basically the worms we know and love from the previous instalments in the series.
Heavys are slower and more cumbersome and less manoeuvrable than other worms however their attacks do more damage and can take more hits than other worms.
Scientists are physically very weak and take more damage and move slower than a basic worm. However for every turn they stay alive the entire team gets an additional 5 health. Defences constructed using the scientist are also more effective.
Scouts are smaller than normal worms and incredibly fast, however their attacks do less damage.
On paper this sounds like a brilliant idea that should add an extra tactical level to encounters with other players and choosing the right squad for the right map could prove to be vital.
However within the game itself it doesn’t make that much of a difference. Although the new classes are incredibly fun to try out especially the Scout which whizzes around the map and the Scientist can prove useful if you hide them somewhere out the way, they don’t change the way you approach the game in any significant way and more could of been made of their differences.
The other niggle I have with the class system is that it’s hard to experiment with the different types outside of single player as you choose your map after you’ve picked who’s going to be on your team, so it’s pretty much pot luck as to whether your chosen team will have any tactical advantage until the game begins.
The other major new features within Worms Revolution are what Team 17 are calling and ‘Physics Objects’ and ‘Dynamic Water’
Again on paper the Physics Objects sound like a brilliant idea. In addition to the usual barrels and mines there are also other objects buried within the scenery such as mobile phones, bottles of water and lighters which can be used for additional cover or as a makeshift bridge, dislodged and dropped on enemies heads or in the case of water bottles, lighters and puffer fish detonated in order to drown, poison or burn the apposing team. These objects can also be manipulated using the new Telekinesis and UFO weapons.
The problem is that they’re just not fragile enough to be effective as a means of attack. More often than not when I shot a nearby lighter or water bottle even with more powerful weapons like the bazooka it wouldn’t make a dent basically wasting a turn and other times they’d explode with what felt like a prod. The inconsistency of them meant that i started avoiding using them and just going back to playing as if they weren’t there. This is something which could easily be fixed in a patch and I think significantly improve this new features tactical use within a game.
This leaves us with dynamic water. No longer is water just a death trap at the bottom of the map waiting for you to be knocked into. It now collects in pools in the level and can be unleashed in several new weapons to knock opponents off the edges of the map or create pools that will knock five health off for every turn a worm is underwater for.
Sounds good that’s because it is. Maps now will often have reservoirs of the stuff in pockets and unleashing it onto hapless worms below or knocking them into it is tons of fun. However it acts more like jelly than water usually does in games. I guess to a worm a droplet of water might appear to act differently. Also Dynamic Jelly doesn’t really have the same ring to it.
Although I will admit that it could act a little more violently at times it is by far my favourite of the new features and one that has had the most impact on the general flow of matches and i often found myself targeting parts of the landscape to flush opponents off the map or try and crate wells to trap them in rather than just shoot them.
But in a way that’s the whole catch twenty two of the new features added to the game. They all feel somewhat superfluous within a multiplayer game because the initial core concept was just so incredibly well realised to begin with that most people will ignore them. However this isn’t the case within the games generous Single player modes.
Single player is split into Campaign and Puzzle modes all of which are presided over by Don Keystone a Wild life documentary maker played by the brilliant Matt Berry (The IT Crowd, Snuff Box). In need of footage for documentaries Don acts as a cruel but hilarious organ grinder that sends your team of worms out to destroy the others in the name of ratings and science. The silly idea of worms being nothing more than a very violent nature documentary coupled with some great one liners and Berry’s brilliant pompous dead pan delivery kept me laughing all the way through and made me want to finish even the more tricky levels just to find out what Don Keystone was going to come out with next.
The only problem with the single player is the same one that’s hounded the series for years. The enemy AI is mad. I mean literally schizophrenic in how it behaves. One turn your opponents will be inaccurate idiots that do more harm to themselves than you. The next turn they’re pulling off insane trick shots with grenades that defy all logical reasoning, Then they’ll go back to randomly burrowing with a blow torch or taking pot shots at the scenery,
This often translates into incredibly easy victories or more often than not on the later levels your squad getting wiped out with ruthless efficiency.
This is a minor niggle because for me Worms is always going to be about the multiplayer. There are both local and online modes and games generally run smoothly and don’t take very long to get into once you’ve found a match. Also almost every part of the experience can be customised from the look and sound of your worms to the weapons available in a match as well as what hazards are present on the map and how often and powerful the items in crate drops are.
There’s no perk system, or grinding involved in the multiplayer like there are in most other modern multiplayer games just the tools to create your own unique experiences with other players and an even mine filled playing field. Multiplayer in its purest form, a game that rewards skill and a little bit of luck over merely playing the game the longest.
In a world full of staggered unlocks it’s a refreshing change of pace. A game that you play online just for fun and the joy of playing.It’s a revolution I would love to see spread back into the rest of gaming.
So should you bother playing Worms Revolution. Yes, a million times yes, If you were a fan of the original but never cared for the 3D incarnations, this is the game for you. If you’re a fan of games that are genuinely funny, this is the game for you. If you have never played any of the Worms games, what the hell is wrong with you? Do yourself a favour and play this game.