Worms Revolution was developed and published by Team 17 Software. It was released on October 10, 2012 for $14.99 or your regional equivalent. A copy of the game was provided for review purposes.
The Worms franchise has been around for a long time, almost two decades. If you haven’t heard of it by now, you should probably put down the PS3 controller, hop online, and do some research about the PC games of yesteryear. Somehow, developers Team 17 have found a way to keep players coming back for more. Maybe it is the insane gameplay of the Worms games, or maybe it is just the fact that the feisty little worms are so darn cute. I’m not really sure. But, Team17 set itself a high bar with Worms Revolution by promising to bring the quintessential classic Worms experience into the 21st Century. Did they succeed?
Here’s what we liked:
Dynamic water: This is the first of many new things introduced to Worms in this installment. Much was made of dynamic water when the game was announced. Team17 devoted half of a developer diary trailer to explaining the new feature. Worms enthusiasts expected it to fundamentally change the strategy of a match. And it does. Worms now carry water bombs and water guns that can be used to drown enemies in all sorts of interesting ways. But, for every water-based weapon, there is an anti-water utility. For instance, the drain plug can be used to drain water that has filled a particular area. What dynamic water has done for the franchise is force players to think more about the movement and positioning of their worms throughout the course of a match. You can’t just hang out on top of your earthen tower of doom, lobbing grenades down upon your helpless opponents. You have to consider the possibility of being carried away by an avalanche of viscous water, or slowly drowned in a heaping pool of the good ol’ H2O.
3D environments: Another new addition to the franchise that adds a layer of strategic depth. Environments are now 3D, the strange odds-and-ends that usually dot the landscape of a Worms map can now be moved. The physics-based kinetic qualities of things like an old cell phone or a bottle of water allow them to be moved around the map and strategically placed for offensive or defensive purposes. Such abilities allow for a sophistication to be applied to strategy. Don’t like that worm with the elevation-advantage tossing cluster bombs down on you? No problem. Just send the UFO to go and pick up the bottle of water on the other side of the map and drop it on top of him. He’ll be forced to blow it up if he wants to move, which means he’ll be drowned in a cavalcade of water and slowly suffocate until he draws his last, wimpy breath.
Customization: It’s been a hallmark of the Worms franchise for some time now, and it is back and true-to-form in Worms Revolution. The ability to select silly hats and other accessories to dress your worms up in, is as fun and outrageous as ever. We wouldn’t necessarily be lying if we said that you can spend almost as much time in the customization menus as you can playing the game. There are a ton of items to unlock and purchase for use, and you’ll spend plenty of time putting together that team of Russian Spetsnaz worms to take to the battlefield.
Multiplayer: Multiplayer has, arguably, been the reason that fans keep coming back to the Worms games. I’m glad to report that it is as fun and crazy as ever. Granted, there is an online component to Worms Revolution, the game still manages to rekindle the magic of the good old pass-and-play days of the SNES, PlayStation, and N64 when you had to go to the store, buy a case of Mt. Dew and Cheetos, and prepare yourself for the ensuing living room all-nighter. It is fun gathering a few close friends and playing multiplayer pass-and-play style. There were concerns about the online multiplayer component of Worms Revolution, seeing as how previous games in the franchise had their fair share of issues, Worms 2 Armageddon in particular. Whatever issues Team17 had programming network code before have evaporated. The game isn’t plagued by the same dropped and slow connections that were such a big problem in Worms 2 Armageddon. The multiplayer experience in Worms Revolution is likely to be remembered as one of the best, if not the best, in the entire franchise.
What we didn’t like:
Single-player: The single-player experience has never really been the MO of the Worms franchise. The gameplay is exactly what you get in the multiplayer experience. It is the way the single-player campaign was designed that doesn’t make much sense. 25% of the campaign is devoted to a tutorial. The inclusion of a tutorial is necessary, as it takes a lot of the guess-work that usually lead to a cheap death in the other Worms games out of play. But, after the hand-holding experience of this tutorial, players are dumped into a single-player campaign that sees such a ridiculous spike in difficulty that it will make you want to destroy your controller out of frustration. It really does come across like some sick and twisted joke that the developers put in just to see you squirm. It isn’t managed very well, and that’s to be expected of a game that is at its best operating outside the parameters of normalcy and control. Worms games don’t work within the context of single-player campaign because it operates within a controlled environment that stands in direct conflict with what Worms is all about: blowing the living crap out of things. At the end of the day, the single-player experience proves to be shallow. It comes across like a whisper on the wind, an afterthought to an otherwise thoughtfully designed and produced game.
Frame rate and bug issues: There is little that annoys me more than a game that ships with game-breaking bugs. Let me be clear, Worms Revolution is a fun game. But, there are also issues that prove to be major turnoffs. First of all, there is absolutely no excuse for a game that is distributed digitally to experience the frame rate issues that Worms Revolution has. It seems that this issue is mostly confined to PlayStation 3 owners and that steps are being taken to patch the problem. But, it is quite jarring to see the frame rate drop as low 10 fps during a match. One poster on a forum thread about the issue said, “It’s like trying to play a PS3 game on a PS2.” There are also game-breaking bugs that you may run into when playing a versus match against enemy AI. Several times a rocket or homing missile would pass straight through an enemy worm, and there were plenty instances in which an enemy worm was suspended in air, the ground beneath him having been blown away. Nothing, it seemed, could hit him. It was as if there was a protective bubble around him. I say this is a game-breaking bug because there is little more infuriating then spending several turns painstakingly setting up the perfect sequence of events to kill an enemy only to have your efforts squelched by a bug that really should’ve been caught in play-testing.
Customization Menus: The majority of the menus in Worms Revolution function just fine. But, when you get into the team management and customization menus, things start to fall apart. Little effort was made, it seems, to think about streamlining the customization and team management process. The number of button presses it takes to simply switch out a worm on your team with another worm is ridiculous. It shouldn’t take more than two or three button presses. The way the menus are organized and layered also don’t make much sense. Adding a worm to a team will take you through customization menu after customization menu, when all you really want to do is press a button and have the little guy show up on the team roster. The process is clunky and way more complicated than it needs to be for a game like Worms Revolution.
Worms Revolution does have some problems, but they have to do with some of the design decisions that were made by Team17 and some of the aforementioned technical issues. In the sense that we “play” games, Worms Revolution has few problems. Its core mechanics work, it has high replay value, and it is smashing good fun to play with friends. As a Worms game, it lives up to the standard set by its 2D predecessors while bringing new elements to the franchise that enhance gameplay.
Score: Buy it!