Arriving on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC next week, Worms Revolution marks the sixth release baring the Worms title on high-definition (HD) systems. The fact that four of the previous entries have been digitally distributed, and the one retail product was in fact a compilation of these digital products, says more about the changing tide of the videogames industry than it does about the Worms videogame experience, as for all its ups-and-downs British developer Team17 has always maintained a respectable level of playability. Worms Revolution however, is intended to mark a rebirth for the franchise; the point at which all that went before is forgotten, and the aging series can begin fresh once again.
Even before you’ve been given any kind of opening the videogame begins with an immediate task. You are given a level to work your way through, taking down enemy troops as your progress. The difference between this and the typical Worms structure is that Worms Revolution has clearly been influenced by platform titles, with the successful completion dependant on navigation just as much as it is on careful and appropriate usage of the many weapons available. Once this most immediate introduction is dealt with the player has the option of taking part in some more structured tutorials in the single-player campaign, or jumping straight into the multiplayer warfare, as is Worms’ reason d’etre.
The single-player is unsurprisingly structured as a series of chapters based around a central theme, each one featuring a series of seven levels and culminating in a boss fight. There isn’t a great deal of content in the campaign mode – certainly only a little more than most modern Worms releases – but thankfully it’s supported by the Puzzle mode. A more enduring series of unique challenges, Puzzle mode is where Worms Revolution’s scripted objectives prove that there is plenty of reason to play by yourself, even if that’s not the best experience the videogame has to offer.
What is the superior gameplay option however, the multiplayer options have been suitably fleshed out to cater for all your friend-busting needs. Local versus and online gameplay are the basic tick boxes that needed to be checked, but Worms Revolution goes further than this by offering a huge amount of customisability. The standard ruleset and deathmatch options are joined by Forts, a revision of the stand-off mode first seen in the PlayStation 2’s Worms: Forts Under Siege. Here players kill each other’s worms between preconstucted forts facing one another, but separated by water.
Worms Revolution comes into its own when playing with friends, and despite the best intentions of the single-player campaign it will surely be here that players learn the best use of the videogame’s new elements. Electronic Theatre has already reported on just how big an impact the new physics objects can have on the traditional Worms gameplay, most notably the water, however there are many other elements which greatly affect the way you play. The new weapons go hand-in-hand with the physics objects already in the environment, such as the telekinesis power which enables you to move such oversized items and the Bunker Buster which can now detonate inactive bombs. Some might argue that many of the weapons were born for a specific use relating to a single physics item or property, and that they have relatively little impact on the wider gameplay, but this is simply a misinterpretation of the abilities of most weapons (aside from perhaps the Plug Hole). Many of the original weapons have undergone significant renovation too, such as the Sheep which is now much more predictable, and therefore more useful to the less skilled player.
One of the most well advertised additions to the Worms formula offered by Worms Revolution is that of the four classes. For many the differences will be ignorable, with players simply opting for the Soldier each match and playing Worms Revolution as they would any Worms title. However, for those who invest in the class system just as much as they do in finding the most beneficial use of the weaponry, there’s a whole new level of strategy to learn here. The Scientist, capable of healing worms each turn, and the Heavy, a large and slow moving target capable of inflicting great damage, are arguably the most useful of the bunch, perhaps questioning the balance of the class system, but skilled players will be able to find uses for all types; especially when playing against an opponent who hasn’t yet learned the true skills of the nimble Scout class.
Worms Revolution is clearly the best looking Worms videogame to date, but in the same regard it’s hardly groundbreaking stuff. The decision to incorporate lively 3D backdrops is a welcome one, and the worm animation is as loveable as ever, though it remains on the simplistic side of the HD divide. The incorporation of Matt Berry (best known for his appearances in The IT Crowd) as the annelid advisor not just in the tutorial, but in every first touch of the videogame is a most certainly well presented, though many of the speech samples offered by the worms themselves add nothing new to the experience. One of the Worms franchise’s most commonly discussed features was its quips and derogatory commentary aimed at the player, but there’s little here we haven’t heard before.
Worms Revolution is an enjoyable new step for the series, of that there is no doubt; however the elements it adds to the experience might be expected of any sequel. While the Worms franchise has seen outings on nearly every format over the past two decades there’s often been very little to tell them apart. Worms Revolution turns over a new leaf, bringing the kind of new features to the table that many gamers would expect of a sequel. Worms Revolution isn’t exactly a new start for the franchise then, but rather the grand modernisation that has been long overdue. Designed to welcome newcomers as much as it is to please the fans garnered over the past two decades, Worms Revolution is a fantastic addition to the franchise that makes every other Worms title seem redundant.