Believe it or not, back in the 90’s Worms was one of the biggest game franchises on the planet. Maybe for only a year – or even just a long summer – but with its unique balance of strategy, instant accessibility, originality and humour, Team 17’ s flagship title became an unexpected smash when it first debuted on every major console at the time.
Imminent sequels would also push many units, however, by the turn of the century Worms saw a severe decline in popularity and the series’ transition to 3D failed to re-ignite mainstream interest. So, could Revolution Extreme be Worm’s second coming? Could this be the title that pulls the series out of obscurity and win back the hearts of modern gamers? No, it isn’t. But it’s a darn good game that all Vita owners ought to check out, nevertheless.
For the uninitiated, Worms is a 2D turn-based strategy game, but not as you know it. You control a team of up to 4 Worms, armed to their teeth (or whatever worms have) with a huge array of weapons; ranging from the usual bazookas and mines, to the bizarre banana bombs and holy hand grenades, and battle in turns against up to 3 other teams until you’re the last worm standing. It’s as simple as that! But don’t let the simple concept and comedic presentation fool you. Worms is no shallow affair. Dig deeper and Worms becomes one of the most devious and addictive battles of wits gaming has ever devised. And should the aforementioned main death match mode not float your boat, there’s a list of single player campaigns ranging from battles, puzzles, and platforming to tidy you over for a while.
Stages can take anywhere between 2 to 30 minutes to complete meaning Revolutions truly is suitable for almost any gaming occasion. They’re mainly there to ease newcomers, with tips and tricks on weapon use, movement, and navigating maps, but they also break up possible monotony from the standard battles. Overall, there’s never been a better time for newcomers to jump in, whilst completionists and trophy whores will have hours of gameplay to sink their teeth into. However, veteran players won’t find much here that they haven’t seen before.
A few new gameplay elements have been added to spice things up this time round. For example, water has a more prominent role where puddles are scattered around the levels and if by misfortune should you fall in, your health will slowly deplete as expected. There are now also practically indestructible objects too, making assaults on hiding Worms a less straightforward affair and requires a little more tactical thinking.
And last but not least is the inclusion of worm classes, all with their own unique attributes. They range from ‘heavies’; harder to knock off platforms, and hurt less, but are slower and harder to control with jet packs and ropes. You have scientists; who gain extra health with each and every turn, but are lighter and more prone to damage. There are the scouts; small and more agile around the course, and finally the classic, standard worm, whom have a balance of all attributes.
If you think that this needlessly complicates a very simple game format then don’t worry. It’s a worthy addition that adds a subtle level of depth, but unobtrusive to the core mechanics that made Worms such an endearing experience to begin with.
That being said, whilst the solid gameplay is retained so are all of Worms’ past flaws. The enemy AI, which has always been inconsistent at best, is no exception here. There are moments where even on beginner enemies execute near-impossible attacks with incredible accuracy whilst other times (even on the pro difficulties) they make the most stupid of decisions like not picking up weapon drops sitting literally right besides them.
As a seasoned Worms player coming 20 years it’s something I’ve come to turn a blind eye over, though newcomers may find it a slight bewildering. Thankfully, battles against the computer probably aren’t why you are buying Worms. At least, it shouldn’t be considering there’s the online mode!
Whilst the single player modes are all well and good, Worms has always been a game to be played with others. Therefore, the mode that should be abused the most here is online. And with the ability to play anywhere on the handheld, THIS is the way Worms was always meant to be experienced.
Ultimately, online plays identical to computer vs modes but playing against human opponents will reveal to you new strategies you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. It’s always surprising how cunning other gamers have been on the net, and it’s here where you’ll likely learn the more advanced tricks. And human players eliminate all of the problems with the A.I., as well as making games 10x more intense.
Online mode also supports voice chat, and I can thankfully say that everyone I’ve met so far has been a pleasure to talk to (thanks guys!), and don’t take themselves too seriously.
The Vita console compliments the game seamlessly. The larger screen makes it more compatible than the 3DS or PSP ever were. And the touch screen is used sparingly as an alternative to selecting modes or weapons, and viewing the battlefield. This is more favourable than to past installments, some of which shoehorned hardware features arbitrarily * cough Worms Space Oddity cough *.
Visually is where Revolution differs the most though. Seasoned fans accustomed to the 2D series’ distinct cartoony design will quickly notice the break from tradition, as the series goes fully-fledged 3D. It’s certainly the first thing I noticed when diving on in.
Worms’ customary zany humour has been elevated as a result. The worms’ fully animated facial expressions, though a tad hard to see on the small screen, react to attacks and surprises in a way they never did in earlier titles. You can now customise worms with specific headgear, finishing poses and, of course, the series’ trademark funny voice-overs all giving the game a sense of character and comedic touch that other modern games are so desperately lacking.
That being said, if I’m totally honest, I’m still not sure if everyone will find the new artistic direction as aesthetically pleasing as the classic look of yester-games. For instance it does come at the sacrifice of a lack of polish, as you see Revolutions is a little rough around the edges at times. Levels seem somewhat less detailed and pixelated, whilst also lacking the vibrancy of previous titles.
Furthermore, I was shocked to notice a little slowdown when playing matches with a maximum number of teams. For a console as powerful as the Vita, I find it hard to justify how a game as simple as Worms could have this problem. It’s only very slight, but noticeable to me, as someone who took the same issue with Open Warfare 2 back on the Nintendo DS.
Loading times are also still a little bit on the long side, especially when sifting through choice of terrain before battles. A little concerning considering the leaps and bounds technology has gone which should now make loading preview maps a breeze.
There was, however, 2nd shock to that got me completely of guard, although in a much more pleasant way. Upon playing Revolution’s several single player modes I was accompanied in my ventures by a commentator – outlining my every mission objective – all with a strikingly familiar voice. Unbeknown to me before hand some research revealed that the man behind the mic is none-other than Matt Berry of ‘The IT Crowd’ fame!
The in-mission dialog are still silly in a way only known to worms, and Berry’s delivery is on par with everything else you’ve seen him in i.e. spot on! “Your first kill is just like a packet of crisps – you can’t have just one!” And it’s a particularly entertaining touch to see worms react to his various quips. However, he does outstay his welcome. It seems Team 17 got a carried away with the writing to the point where there’s more dialogue than there really needs to be. And no matter how much professionalism Berry puts into it many lines fail to hit the mark, often feeling forced or even a little pretentious.
The franchise’ signature soundtrack style, on the other hand, is as good as it’s ever been. An eclectic mix of subtle tracks, which fit perfectly with the various level themes. They had me humming at least 80% of my gaming time. And I expect to be humming for a long time to come, for as any fan will tell you Worms has a uniqueness and allure that can’t be found anywhere else, and that will have you crawling back for months or even years to come. It’s one of those few competitive play games that even the most serious of gamers can’t help but chuckle at the misfortunes (either at the expense of themselves, or others). That’s a rarity in a gaming community now where everyone often takes most multiplayer experiences, particularly online, way too seriously.
I would recommend Revolution to people who…. Ah, hell with it, I’d recommend this game to anyone. If you have a Vita and you like fun, you need this game.