Worms Revolution

Do you know what annoys me? When I go to read a review of a new version of a cherished series and it doesn’t answer the questions I want to know. So I’ll cut the bullshit and get to the questions that I would want to know as a Worms fan. Stuff like..

How does the class system actually work in practice? 

The short one, the fat one, the smart one, and the normal one. It’s not a sitcom character sheet, but the new class based system. So how does it work? Well, the normal ones are the Worms you’re used to, so I’ll ignore them. The fat ones are absolutely worthless. Yes, they hit harder, take more damage, can barely be pushed around by the “water”, and many other benefits. But they’re all negated by the slow movement, inability to jump, and most importantly, limited opportunities to escape. Plus, they look like Jabba the Hutt, and any creature that looks like something taken down by a girl in a fetish costume should not be entered into armed combat. Sorry, they just shouldn’t be.

The little ones are not as bad, because they’re zippy and are great for “fire and run away” tactics. But their firepower is weak, and they can be pushed around by enemy attacks easily. That is, when they’re not getting insta-killed by stuff that most other worms would survive. If you play with a competent opponent and use them, even if you use them well, they’re weak enough that it’s like flogging yourself on a cruise ship, donning a suit made of chum, and then keelhauling yourself in shark-infested waters. Which, by the way, I think Carnival actually offers for an extra fee.

I think I prefer the old graphics style to this “3D” stuff that looks like it was lifted straight from the Sega Saturn.

And then there’s the scientists. I’m not exactly sure that a ton of thought was given to balancing them. Their firepower is a tick smaller than a normal worm, but the bonuses they give you more than make up for it. They produce better equipment, so stuff like Sentry Guns made using them fire more rounds, seem to have a longer range, and are also more durable. Even better is that when you start a turn using one, every worm you have gets five extra health. I decided to exploit this by making a team that had four scientists. Thus, I was getting twenty extra life for each worm every time I ran through the full circuit of them. Over-powered? Yea. To put this in perspective, I won a game of forts against Brian where I had taken a metric fuck-ton of damage on each of my characters and still finished with over 100 health for each of them. Brian dealt out 500 points of damage more than I did, but I still won, because it was too easy to park worms and let them build up health. And while I didn’t win every game where I played with four brains, every game I did win I did so because of them.

Ultimately, the new class-based system does offer a nice twist on the established formula. But it’s easy to abuse and there are serious questions about balance. With some more tweaking, this might work better, but for now, this is not a positive new direction.

What about the water?

Okay, first off, it’s not water. It’s “water.” I’ll remove the sarcastic quotes when the fucking stuff actually behaves like water. This stuff is more like jelly. It’s slow-moving. It often doesn’t have any force behind it. It acts as a shock absorber more than something to be frightened of. And the act of drowning inside of it doesn’t seem very consistent. It’s too easy to have one little microscopic fraction of a worm poking out and not have it register as being submerged, even if everything it could conceivably be breathing from is covered up.

I really didn’t like the “water” stuff.  I felt the physics of it were all wrong. I felt it was too unpredictable. Water should be very easy to predict how it will behave. But sometimes it would just stack on a flat piece of slope. Yes, stack. “Water” in Worms Revolution stacks. Water doesn’t stack!! Well, unless it’s frozen. Maybe the “water” is some kind of unique hybrid of water and Velcro, because it would slowly trickle down a steep slope like it was clinging to it. Ugh. As for the water based weapons, I felt the water balloons might take the cake for the most useless item in Worms history. The water gun is more effective, especially if you’re trying to push two or more guys off a cliff. However, I found more inconsistencies when it came to using it to push around environmental objects, or stuff like landmines. Sometimes the water gun would push the mine very easily. Sometimes it would cling to the floor like it was cemented into the ground. What changed? Nothing, besides the mood the game was in. This was another good idea that almost completely fails in execution. Although my boyfriend would like to note that he didn’t mind it as much.  But he has red hair and thus can’t be trusted. You know how they are.

How do the “environmental objects” factor in? 

Very well, actually. This was my favorite change to the formula. I always thought it was weird how the battlefield in Worms had scattered about it various cars, football helmets, candy canes, and other fun objects that didn’t do anything different from the normal terrain if they were shot. That’s not the case here. Objects will drown you, poison you, or explode you. They also are allegedly capable of crushing you, but it seems fickle how that works and can’t be relied on. The biggest problem is not being able to see how much “life” an object has, and there’s no consistency to it. Sometimes items blow up instantaneously from such things as a single shotty blast, while others can take multiple bazooka rounds without budging. Without a lifebar or any reliable visual cues, the strategic aspects of using these is lacking. Still, this is the only major change that worked the way it was expected to, more or less.

What about all the old standbys of Worms?

I found the physics of the bazookas and grenades have remained pretty much the same. That is, when they’re not crapping out on you due to glitches. Grenades often defied the laws of physics by spinning around like a top instead of bouncing when you throw them. I’ve seen grenades cling to enemies, walls, and floors like they were coated in glue. Or perhaps the “water.”

For you fans of Ninja Ropes, forget everything you know about them. They work completely differently from past installments of the series. There will be no amazing acts of wackiness. The ropes at most can swing back and forth. Using them to defy gravity and fold yourself up and over the top of a cliff is officially impossible now. I guess this was done to make the game more realistic. Right, because I know I kept saying to myself “this game featuring worms blowing each-other up with bazookas needs to be way more realistic.” And the weird part is, every other thing, like the “water”, behaves in a way that is so divorced from realism that it could be the setting for a new season of Jersey Shore.

And there’s a lot of little niggling things too. You can’t scoot across the ground with the jetpack. You have to be moving upwards to be able to move left and right. The Concrete Donkey now bounces around the map when you activate it, as if it bred with Armageddon to create an unholy offspring. I used it twice over the course of two games and the grand total of damage it did: killed two of Brian’s worms, killed five of mine. Even though mine were nowhere near his. It’s as if someone at Team 17 said “you know how this weapon worked fine the way we had it? Well, and this might be crazy, but what if it didn’t work fine?” And then they high-fived each-other and went back to making the “water” even crappier.

So Worms Revolution sucks then?

No, actually. Even after all the bitching and complaining I did above, my friends and I had an absolute blast playing it. For everything that it does wrong (and it does a LOT wrong), it’s still Worms. If you get four people together with it, you’re practically guaranteed huge smiles, belly-laughs, hooting, hollering, high-fives, and an overall damn good time. Worms remains the most unsung party series in gaming. I wish it had been way better, but what’s here is still potently fun. They even improved my personal favorite game mode: Forts. Instead of being static pictures of castles or jungles or pirate ships, they’re actual forts! As in, they have hallways, basements, openings to fire out of, and logic in design. I enjoyed this mode so much it almost negated all the shit I dug up above.

Ah, now THESE are forts.

Worms Revolution has a long ways to go. A lot of patchwork, a lot of fine tuning, and more content. The single-player stuff is somewhat dull, thanks in part to AI that is way overpowered, like they went to the Far Cry school of AI design. But setting up online games is a breeze and customizing multiplayer options is a snap. So why am I so disappointed? I think it’s because I wanted to love Worms Revolution, and instead I merely enjoyed it. Change is good, but only if that change has a net positive effect. Most of the new stuff in Worms Revolution makes the formula worse. For me at least, the new Worms has turned the series from “holy shit, this is fucking awesome!” to “this is good. I guess.”

Worms Revolution was developed by Team 17

1200 Microsoft Points have a boyfriend obsessed with banana bombs in the making of this review. I never really understood the logic behind a banana bomb myself. Why would it bounce the way it does? Bananas don’t bounce!

Worms Revolution is Chick Approved, but only Xbox Live Indie Games are ranked on the Leaderboard. 

Review copies were provided by Team 17 to IndieGamerChick.com. Indie Gamer Chick’s policy is to pay for its own games. Because the game wasn’t released at the time of this review, full copies were purchased on October 9 (on PlayStation 3.  Not the same platform, but money was spent).

About Indie Gamer Chick
Indie game reviews and editorials.

7 Responses to Worms Revolution

  1. The problem with worms games tends to be that its of a genre of game where we don’t see much innovation. The last game *I* remember that had made significant formulaic changes was Warheads, which had planets instead of landscapes, and a weapon system that was both more customizable than Worms 2 (PC Worms 2 version had a lot of weapons customization options for each weapon, while after that Worms:Armageddon had foregone that and replaced it with a simpler, star based strength/power for each weapon), and had costs associated with custom weapons so the building of a balanced arsenal made sense (though in all honesty, if you were observant you could get some overpowered stuff made). Most changes we see now are insignificant balancing tweaks, different weapon loadouts, and once in a while a poorly thought through gimmick like 3d play, real-time combat, or dynamic water.

    One thing that interests me is talk about the ropes. The ropes were definitely a staple of the PC worms franchise as all high-end players could trickshot to get around efficiently and many fan-made modes were based around it (rope race mazes, for example) so its removal is definitely something significant to Worms’ biggest fans.There are a few reasons I can see T17 removing them. One, they work against the class-based ideas they are trying to use. Ropes on a normal or near-normal worm would cause a HUGE amount more manoeuvrability versus a heavy class that couldn’t trick-shot, but that’s something that perhaps could have been tweaked, or even scaled based on the new classes so the scout class feels more like the original worms when using a rope. Or it could also be a platform thing. T17 probably wants all the worms games to play relatively the same on all platforms, having the same gameplay feel. This means consistent interactions on PCs, consoles, and even touch devices. From what I heard about the console versions (didn’t play them much myself) trickshotting with the ninja rope was MUCH harder, if not impossible using controllers, which made the PC players play at a much different level. I would say better design would be to increase control on consoles instead of cutting down features for both, but when you think about it, this kind of decision isn’t much different from FPS games losing a lot of speed and verticality because of console ports as well. Lastly, it could simply be a form of lazyness. The new game clearly sports a new physics engine, which is one that supports a few more unique interactions with level objects, but such wide changes means that old features have to be reimplemented by a team that likely didn’t work on the original worms game physics and need to shoe-horn certain features, like ropes, into the new physics system without catastrophic bugs occurring.

    • Oh, and before I forget, the reason I have such a longwinded opinion is because I used to play a LOT of worms, including being part of their modding scene, and my first XBLIG was an artillery game with a pretty weak gimmick (Tank Strike)

  2. Argamae says:

    Even though there is probably too much nostalgia involved, I think I never again had the fun with this kind of game as I did with “Artillery Duel” on the Commodore 64. Back in the day, me and a friend played this game almost exclusively. For a long time. That said, Worms nevertheless managed to invoke that same fun when it first came out and I was sold on this franchise. And although I agree with the Chick about the old graphics style being somewhat more charming, my favourite Worms game to date is “Armageddon”. After reading this review I don’t think I’m going to support the Revolution with 1200 MSP. If this gets cheaper during one of those weekly “sales” on XBL I might give this coup d’etat a chance.

  3. Matt says:

    I think the thing with water is scale. Water wouldn’t behave like that normally, but if you remember that your worms are small and you’re really zoomed in, and each drop of water is really a drop of water, you can kind of accept that it’s a bit “stickier.” I mean, droplets of water can cling to vertical surfaces.

    It’s not really a brilliant explanation, but it helped me accept the water for what it was, and I actually thought it was the only addition to the formula that actually improved it. The different classes are pointless, and the environmental objects aren’t much better, really. I can see why they’re there but water is the only thing that makes you have to play differently, and the only thing that can justify a purchase of this over Armageddon (which I think is the better game, taking everything into account).

    • “Water wouldn’t behave like that normally, but if you remember that your worms are small and you’re really zoomed in..”

      Oh duh, yea. I mean it all makes sense now!

      Except the part where you use sheep that are as small as insects that occasionally fly when they wear a Superman cape.

      • Matt says:

        Hah, like I say, not really a brilliant explanation, but it at least helps explain the behaviour of it somewhat. Nothing’s to scale, but water clearly acts as individual drops. It still feels like jelly, but I can at least give it a pass.

  4. Pingback: Indie Gamer Chick goes Multi-Platform | Indie Gamer Chick

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