Worms has been a fixture of the gaming world for over a decade now, and that fact does not appear to be changing any time soon. As someone that has played the Worms games since Worms 2, this reviewer can definitely say that Worms Revolution not only holds up well to the classics such as Worms: Armageddon, but also manages to introduce some new gameplay mechanics and features that truly accentuate the game experience. These mechanical changes along with the low price ($14.99), hard drive requirements (about 500 MB), and easy pick-up-and-play nature of the game make it a great value.
Worms Revolution brings the usual variety of game modes for single player and multiplayer, along with a nice online multiplayer option. Multiplayer game setup takes a couple moments at most for more standard games, but more widespread settings changes should be done ahead of time and saved as a custom game type. All the old worm customization options are back, though the game does not make it completely clear that you acquire new accessories by purchasing new worms for your roster. Even with the welcome map editor, the maximum map size sometimes ends up feeling a little too small, especially if you like to play custom games with large supplies of high-explosives.
The new dynamic water mechanic and the associated weapons are the most interesting developments brought by Worms Revolution. This feature gets a fancy name to distinguish it from the water at the bottom of every map, which continues to operate as the implacable graveyard of watery death it always has been. The dynamic water does not automatically drown a worm, but rather drains their health every turn and greatly reduces their jumping ability, making it perfect for creating traps. Alternatively, flows of dynamic water can be used to push worms around the battlefield or off of a slope and into the deadly ocean below. In practice, the dynamic water’s variety of uses makes it a valuable addition to the game. Players that don’t feel the same way can take advantage of the convenient option to just turn off dynamic water in versus mode and never have to worry about it.
This game also adds things called “physics objects” to the map as well as “classes” of worms. The physics objects are random objects that typically do something when destroyed, such as a water bottle releasing a ton of dynamic water, a mushroom poisoning nearby worms, or a lighter making a huge explosion. While the placement of such objects is random, certain items such as the UFO or telekinesis allow players to move them around to create strategic opportunities. If for some reason a player does not care for these objects, they can turn them off in versus mode. The classes of worms—scout, soldier, heavy, and scientist—are mainly different in sturdiness and mobility, but the scientist does bring a healing mechanic to his team that will likely make him a fixture of every person’s roster.
Tutorial and campaign missions offer players new to the series a method to learn the mechanics and tricks involved in playing the game, and are highly recommended. Going straight into versus mode against the computer is ill-advised without some mastery of gameplay mechanics because even on lower settings, the AI barely ever misses a shot. Unfortunately for Worms veterans that want to try the single-player campaign, the tutorial missions are mandatory. Luckily, a veteran should be able to blast through them in less than an hour. Seasoned players will likely prefer the challenge of the separate puzzle missions anyways.
Because of the rather lackluster performance and numerous technical and design issues inherent in 3D games, Worms developer Team 17 has returned to the more reliable 2D format for the more recent games, though Worms Revolution more accurately follows the conventions of what people normally call “2.5D.” In other words, the game looks 3D but plays like a 2D game. The graphics are cartoony and smooth, maintaining the classic Worms visual style. The backgrounds have appropriately silly looking wildlife such as seagulls or sewer crocodiles lurking around. Slowdown does not normally occur, but whenever a very large amount of dynamic water is moving, the game might experience some choppiness.
The physics are as tight as ever. Wind has a noticeable and important effect on item usage, but thankfully avoids the ridiculously over-the-top trajectory manipulation of some of the other games. Input lag is not a problem when jumping, and the platforming elements are easy to control. However, until a player learns how to eyeball falling distance, they can expect to lose many turns to unintentional falling damage. The physics of the dynamic water might at first appear to behave more like those of some strange liquidy gel than actual water, but at the miniature sizes that worms operate in, real water does behave similarly because of the principles of cohesion and adhesion (think of dew drops), so all the physics nuts should be pleased.
Fans of the series should appreciate that the solid core gameplay remains the same. At the same time, Worms Revolution justifies its existence by providing new mechanics and features that players cannot get from just playing more Worms: Armageddon mods. At only $14.99, Worms Revolution provides a great deal. It even might be time to forgive Team 17 for Worms: Forts. Maybe.