Hands-On: Worms Revolution
I grew up with Worms. The series was my obsession as a child. I could seriously never get enough of Worms 2, Worms Armageddon and Worms World Party. It was the party game. It was for me what FIFA is to many. However, after Worms 3D, when the series transitioned to full 3D warfare rather than 2D, my interest in the series started to decline. I liked Worms 3D, but it wasn’t my childhood indulgence. Since then, there have been some decent, good and even great Worms titles, some that went back to the 2D style, and others that stuck with the whole 3D business, but sadly I had grown past it. But when the opportunity came to pick up a preview code for Worms: Revolution, a game that would rediscover its roots and be built on a completely new engine, the temptation was a bit too much to resist.
Name: Worms: Revolution
Genre: Strategy, Artillery
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Publishers: Steam (distributors)
Release Date: 10 October 2012
Price: $14.99 (about R123)
The first thing I quite enjoyed about Worms: Revolution was that it felt like returning home after a very long time away. That’s for me personally, because the game I loved as a child is very recognisable. The classic formula, one of my favourite in gaming, is right there. This game is based on the original 2D Worms games, except it has a completely new engine and some new ideas. Right off the bat, you’ll have access to the single player mode, which includes a campaign and twenty puzzle missions to learn more about the game, the standard versus mode, online multiplayer, leaderboards and your customisation options. Before getting into the single-player you’ll have to complete eight tutorial missions that are quite slow, but they do well to introduce you to the game and get you up to speed with its features. You’ll be accompanied in the single-player by psychotic narrator Matt Berry, who has a bit of an obsession with killing worms and dry humour, and who will serve to make things lighthearted, and rather disturbing. After the tutorial, there are the campaign missions, and they follow a simple structure of completing the levels until you reach the final boss. You’re free to do them in any order.
If you just want to play against your friends, you’re free to do that, and you’ll still have all of the much-loved customisation options available to you, such as the freedom to create your own weapon scheme, match settings, worm team, and maps to fight in. You’ll be able to customise maps based on four main themes, namely Spooky, Farmyard, Sewer and Beach. All of them are great, and perhaps the best one is Beach due to how stunning it looks. The themes are just there to give the maps personality and unique visual styles, and they don’t really affect gameplay that much. One thing you may like and dislike a bit, is the new class-based worm system. You’ll like it naturally because it adds diversity and more tactics to the game, but you’ll probably dislike the fact that you’ll have to purchase worms of the other classes using credits acquired in the single player. You can still customise a worm team, give them all names and edit things like their tomb stones, fort, voice set, celebration dance as well as tweak team formations, but to assemble a team using the various classes you’ll need credits.
There are four classes in the game, namely the Soldier, Scientist, Heavy and Scout. These sound typical, and they do fit the stereotypical bill a bit, but each class offers something new to spice up the Worms formula. The Soldier is your standard worm, and is an all-rounder. The Scientist is weak in combat, but has the ability to increase team health every turn, so they’re good to have around. The Heavy, as the name suggests, is slow and powerful, so while you won’t be able to move fast or jump high, you will be able to dish out lots of pain. Finally, the Scout is really weak and dies easily, but their strength is in their mobility. They move much faster than other worms, they jump far greater distances allowing them to easily avoid environmental hazards and traps, and they can get through small places otherwise inaccessible by other worms. So these guys are the ones you send out on recon, to collect weapon and tool crates and to go in for the last hit. The classes are fun to use and their inclusion adds a greater tactical aspect to the game, but just be wary that you’ll need to use credits to acquire them.
The gameplay is much like the original worms games. You and your opponents will take turns, which are played out in real-time, to use your weapons and tools in order to destroy your enemies’ worms. Each player is limited to four worms, and will control one each turn. Basically, you need to be the last team standing. The environment plays a big role in your success or failure, as you’ll need to be wary of hazards such as explosive oil drums and mines, as well as use your tools to traverse the landscape. You have a time limit in which to take your turn, and using a weapon and dealing or taking damage ends your turn. That’s about the gist of it, and if you’ve played any of the classic Worms titles then you won’t need much of an introduction to this game. Many of the weapons return from the classic games, such as your bazookas, banana bombs, holy hand grenades, sheep, old ladies and concrete donkeys, and the tools are also familiar, complete with your jetpack, ninja rope, girder and teleportation device. You’ll also get some new ones, like telekinesis, which allows you to move objects in the environment to create bridges or block enemies off, and stick em’ up, which lets you steal equipment from an enemy.
There are three game modes, namely Deathmatch, Fort Mode and Classic. Deathmatch is your standard mode, where it’s all about destroying every last worm your opponent has and all of the new Worms: Revolution features will be in for you to use. Fort Mode incorporates more strategy, and it’s where you and your opponent will be locked in your forts opposite each other. You’ll need to be sly and perhaps employ some darkside tactics like hit-and-runs, or digging in and waiting for the right time to strike. It’s an artillery game, and it’s tons of fun if you’re up against a human player. Lastly, Classic is if you’re a purist, and it’s basically Deathmatch except it goes back to the old days of Worms, eliminating the new features of Revolution and sticking to the basics, so your matches will be as you remember them from the old days, and you won’t need to bother with anything extra, like classes. You can also take these modes to the online multiplayer, which allows you to play a quick match, ranked match, player match, or create your own custom game. Naturally, I wasn’t able to try out the multiplayer component at this point in time because the game isn’t out yet, so there are no players and games.
Worms: Revolution highlights two major gameplay features, that of dynamic water and interactivity with the environment through using physics objects. Water is a big new player, as you can use it to submerge worms, dealing damage to them each turn and slowing their movement, as well as to flush them down a slippery slope which leads to them sinking in the big ocean. New weapons and tools have been brought in to highlight this feature. You’ll get water balloons, which burst upon impact and dunk an area in water, water guns, which fire streams of water and you can control the direction, and lastly water strikes, which are air strikes that drop a line of water balloons. Your counter to being flooded is a tool called the plug hole, which drains away all water around it. The addition of water really seems like a great one, and it makes your positioning on the map something you’ll need to be more cautious about. The other new feature, that of physics objects, is also really cool. These add a greater sense of tactics and interactivity to the game, as you’ll be able to make use of certain objects in the environment to your advantage. For example, your can blow up a lighter in the background to rain napalm on your foes, or burst a water pipe to drown a couple of worms, or whack a mushroom to release poisonous gas. These two new features make matches a lot more dynamic, and require you to be aware of your surroundings.
I have to applaud the new engine used, because the game looks pretty great right now. Matches take place on a 2D plane, but the graphics are fully 3D, and this allows the game to fully retain its old charm while still looking quite pretty. I quite like the way the backgrounds animate in each map, and you’ll see some interesting things going on there. For example, in the sewers you may see large crocodiles or rats go about their business, or in the beach setting you can see bubbles floating across the screen or a bottle floating along the water. It really makes the game attractive to look at, and overall the game is quite busy, visually speaking. But it’s not at all distracting. For some technical speak, I noticed that while the game animates really well and looks great in motion, some animations do stutter a little bit, and hopefully this gets patched by the time the game is released. It’s nothing major though.
Worms: Revolution at this point in time is shaping up to be a solid package that does justice to its roots. It’s easy to enjoy, it still feels fresh despite staying true to the original formula, and the new game features do a lot to mix up matches some more and add in a whole new line of strategy and variety. After being away from this series for such a long time, I’m quite happy to say that my experience with the latest entry so far has left me looking forward to more, particularly the online.