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By this point, it’s beginning to feel like there are as many Worms games as there are actual worms in existence. In the seventeen years since developer Team17 made people realize that there’s a sizable market out there for homicidal invertebrates, almost twenty entries in the series have been released. That’s a lot. Some of those have been good, others have been…not so good. So when this year’s iteration on the turn-based artillery franchise, Worms Revolution, was announced, plenty of eyes were understandably rolled. Thankfully, though, Worms Revolution freshens up the potentially stale formula by fine-tuning its strategic combat, adding loads of customization options, and including a wicked sense of humor and charm, among other things. Also, lots of stuff goes boom.
At its core, Worms Revolution plays just like any other Worms game before it. If you’re not familiar with those, they usually go a little something like this: You control one squad of worms, and you’re out to exterminate another squad of worms. To help you do this, you’re given a wide variety of wacky weapons, items, gadgets, and gizmos. These range from the standard (shotguns, hand grenades) to the nifty (jetpacks, ninja ropes) to the absolutely absurd (farting old ladies, giant statues of donkeys). The tone is light and humorous, the 2.5D environments are colorful, and the gameplay is strategic, requiring careful movements, positioning, and item management. It’s been this way for almost two decades now, and Worms Revolution isn’t really trying to change things here.
Instead, Revolution expands upon that simple, yet engaging template by throwing a few new features into the fray. Firstly, there’s now a much greater emphasis on physics and environmental effects, here termed Hazards. As you inch your way through a combat zone, you’ll see the likes of fire drums, pocket lighters, water bottles, and more, all of which are destructible, moveable, and there for you to take advantage of. Water in particular is heavily featured, with new weapons like the water bomb, water pistol, and water strike allowing you to submerge your foes, slow their movements and chip away at their health with each passing turn. While these effects function just fine, and certainly look cool, they ultimately serve more as window dressing than necessary inclusions to the experience.
Revolution’s other big additions come outside the battlefield. Worm squads come with dedicated classes, with the standard Soldier now joined by Scientists, who heal the team with each turn, Scouts, who move swiftly and help with item collection, and Heavies, who are slow but much stronger than the average grunt. A bevy of new customization options allow you to mix and match your company into personalized formations, while everything from their uniforms to their catchphrases to their victory dances can be altered too. A truckload of other gameplay options-- from item drop rate to the amount of ninja rope swings allowed per match--can be tuned to your personal preference as well. It’s pretty basic stuff, all things considered, but the sheer wealth of options at your fingertips gives the relatively simple combat some depth behind the scenes, and allows Revolution to accommodate both newbies and Worms veterans simultaneously.
While Revolution does feature the usual single-player campaign and puzzles modes, it, like most Worms games, is best enjoyed with one or more friends. Three basic multiplayer modes (standard Deathmatch, the long-range combat of Forts, and the old-school Classic) can be played either locally or online with up to four people, and while they aren’t anything innovative, they’re still just plain fun. If nothing else, the game’s revitalized sense of humor and personality (including great voiceover work from English actor and comedian Matt Berry) will more than likely bring people together for a good laugh. Worms as a whole has been doing all these things for years now, and Revolution only stands to further that longstanding mass appeal.
Watch the Worms Revolution intro video
Worms Revolution isn’t going to alter the gaming landscape anytime soon, but that doesn’t stop it from being a good time. Its combat is as solid as ever, the addition of new classes and environmental effects work just fine, and it’s still a blast to play with a pal or two. If you’re just not into Worms by now, Revolution may not do much to change your mind, but it does show that, sometimes, you can teach an old worm a few new tricks.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.