Worms: Revolution Review (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)
Apart from a small misadventure into 3D space Worms as a franchise has remained largely the same over the course of its life and it’s hard to judge a game that simply hasn’t changed a great deal in nearly 20 years.
Well, actually, it has changed and in what is called a stroke of genius, it has come back around to an original formula that works.
Worms: Revolution is a turn based strategy game at its core. Different teams of Worms step up to the plate and take on the enemy with a myriad of crazy weaponry before quickly moving to cover to sit and await their inevitable death.
It’s in this that Worms hasn’t changed, but where before you could forgive the hasty or sloppy build on a nostalgic charm that reminds you of the original, that simply won’t fly in a modern era where the genre is hitting a revival period and gamers have a choice of games to cherrypick from. For a long time Worms has been a lonely stalwart amongst strategy games, sitting alone on a shelf with no competition, but those days are gone.
You can track the origin of Worms right through the history of gaming and even up to modern games. They all follow a very simplistic formula of pull back and shoot at an enemy fighting against outside forces such as gravity to hit that sweet spot and blow your enemy far across the map.
Artillery instantly pops to mind, much like the much more recent Angry Birds, plus the recent DLC addition to Total War Shogun 2 which added a manual artillery firing section. Worms isn’t doing anything to further the genre and that’s OK but it also isn’t doing it better than the competition and that’s far less acceptable.
Although the addition of mechanics such as water and destructible physics objects make a nice change, and add a little flare to the gameplay, it isn’t enough to save the dull single player experience.
The artificial intelligence is infuriating as it swings from complete naivety to super intelligence leaving you not knowing whether you’re coming or going; the swings are hard and don’t lead to pleasant and consistent experience.
Some of the forced 2D perspective look nice and the game achieves some nice dual staging areas, where they use foreground as well as background to achieve your destructive peak. It adds a little variety but not enough that it changes the core of the gameplay.
Worms: Revolution tries to hold onto that charm and inherent British humour throughout, and the humour is perhaps its saving grace; Matt Berry (The IT Crowd, The Mighty Boosh) guides you through the single player campaign of 32 levels with genuinely hilarious results which makes the problems seem less so. The Single player campaign isn’t up to much but Berry certainly makes the experience much more palatable than it otherwise would have been.
Multiplayer is where the core of the game is; you’ll come up against your friends and battle them in different scenarios that will push you to the limits of frustration and controller breaking madness but all in the way intended.
Unlike the single player, where you’re accustomed to a cheap win or sour loss, everything within the multiplayer arenas feel earned. You’re not cheesing through a stage or having to step away from the computer because your opponent has suddenly learned how to control the bazooka with pinpoint accuracy but are actually engaging in this game of cat and mouse through underground tunnels and catacombs.
Quite often the last round will come at a stroke of luck and the role of a bouncing grenade will be the deciding factor between winner and loser. It encompasses a great feeling whichever side of the needle you come out on and is easily the best way to get a sore throat as you holler at your screen for the grenade to fall short.
Worms: Revolution isn’t all bad. In fact, they get a lot right but in the wrong areas. In an effort to try and please everyone, it feels like the game spreads itself too thin across too many layers and that wraps up for a sub-par experience. Worms shouldn’t be about sitting alone in a room firing at strangely named computer controlled enemies but should be a shared experience with friends.
Worms is best experienced on a couch with a group of people and not shut away from the world. Unfortunately some of the best things about the game require you to play through the single player campaign; Matt Berry hardly features elsewhere and that’s an absolute travesty considering the time split between single player and multiplayer.
While it’s nice to see Worms back in 2D space, the charm which popularized it in the mid-nineties is starting to feel stale and isn’t something Team 17 can continue to trade on nearly 20 years later with, what feels like a game dragged directly from that era without the nostalgic feel that would excuse the lack of polish seen throughout your time within the game.