Worms: Revolution – E3 Preview
After sixteen years of annelid-based destruction, some may think that there’s not much else you could do with the Worms franchise. Team17 felt otherwise, and last year they not only released an updated version of their successful 3D games, but also provided us with a brilliantly unique new take on Crazy Golf that could only be achieved with old ladies and sheep. This year will see the series return to the side-on carnage of before, but with a raft of new changes that will alter Worms as you know it. You could almost call it a Revolution…
The first major change that players will notice is that everything has an extra dimension to it, as the landscape, worms and even the backdrops are rendered in 3D. The backdrops are even animated, and in the sewer level I saw, you could see a giant rat looking around as objects floated past. The use of 3D on a 2D plane isn’t just a cosmetic upgrade though, it also fundamentally alters the way Worms is played. Debris left around the battlefield doesn’t form part of the scenery anymore, which adds an extra level of strategy as you’re now having to avoid unexploded bombs or hanging out under objects which could now feasibly fall and send your worm right back to two dimensions.
Movable environmental objects aren’t the only changes a new engine affords, and the other major alteration to the formula makes a particular substance one of the deadliest weapons in your arsenal. Before Revolution, water would only be the killing blow to those knocked off the map, but now it can become a dynamic part of your battlefield, completely changing strategies in a single turn. Water can dislodge mines, barrels and worms and transport them to a different part of the battlefield, allowing you to bunch up your enemies more effectively or send them floating to their doom. It’ll also form pools over the battlefield, hindering the movement of worms and even drowning them slowly if they’re unlucky enough to be fully submerged.
Physics aren’t the only things being overhauled, as even the worms themselves have undergone a little makeover. Another series first is the introduction of different classes of worms, with scout, scientist and brute types available to take into the midst of battle. The brute type is much like you’d expect: a large, slow moving big hitting tank of a character, whose attacks and defences are slightly stronger at the cost of manoeuvrability. The scout is also vaguely predictable; a smaller, faster and weaker class that’s good for grabbing crates and coins, which will allow you to buy new weapons mid-match to gain a competitive advantage over your foe. They’re also perfect candidates for the ‘drop and run’ dynamite tactic that’s a staple of so many matches. The third new class, the scientist, is one who players should take great care of; as well as having the ability to move environmental objects with their mind, they’ll also heal their team-mates by small increments every turn they survive, meaning that they’re an optimum target for your opponents.
Much like every other Worms title, you’ll be able to customise your squad how you like, with buyable items such as hats and speech banks making a welcome return, although, unlike Ultimate Mayhem last year, there are currently no plans to include loyalty items for any owners of previous Team17 titles. Squad customisation even extends to your load out, which can include any combination of classes that you’d like, allowing you to carefully think about your tactics beforehand and even potentially have an entirely different squad to your enemy. You can even keep your squad simple and stick with the regular worms of games past, and the game will even come with a classic mode for the purists who don’t like change, removing all the new weapons and classes for an experience closer to the series’ roots.
Before each battle, you’ll have the opportunity to customise the map before you play, choosing whether it’ll be on one large island, two smaller ones or the closed off and layered variants that veterans of the franchise will be familiar with. It’s a great way to add another layer of tactics to proceedings, but it’s also possible to generate a completely random one if you’re in the mood for a surprise. Gone is the ability to save the codes for your maps and send them to your friends, but the PC version will come with a landscape editor that players can use to their hearts’ content.
In order to put the game through its paces, I faced off against Kevin Carthew, the lead designer of Worms Revolution, and was able to see some of the new changes in action and get to grips with the new physics, the water and the new classes. For any long-time players, Revolution is easy to accustom yourself to, especially in the case of the new classes, who only take a turn or two to effectively judge their limits and adapt your strategy accordingly. The addition I found most enjoyable was the use of water, as when used effectively it changes the course of battle and opens up the competition all over again. The use of instant replay is also a great bragging rights reward for those who pull off particularly skilful or lucky shots, as I discovered when I pulled off the greatest move I’d ever made in my entire history with the series to wipe out three of Kevin’s worms in one fell swoop. In the end, we drew one game each, so neither GamingLives nor Team17 could truly establish dominance as the greatest at playing Worms. Shame… it’d have made a great tagline for the site.
Worms: Revolution is shaping up to be the series’ most definitive experience; the use of water and movable objects scattered across the scenery add a new level of strategy and force you to change your tactics on the fly, and the new classes spice up the battlefield and allow you to develop your squad in the long term and experiment until you find a style that suits you best. The single player boasts four campaigns of ten missions each, voiced by Darkplace and IT Crowd star Matt Berry, with two DLC packs arriving down the line that’ll each feature a new campaign and a host of new weapons.
The game will be released late September for the XBLA, PSN and Steam, and will cost around 1200 Microsoft points, or about £10 elsewhere. For a veteran like myself, Worms: Revolution is a great update on the classic formula, and has the capabilities to become the deepest game in the series thus far, yet it’s easy enough to get into that it’ll be a perfect starting point to anyone unfamiliar with the series. Either way, Worms: Revolution will be the greatest game of war ever bought to you by annelids.
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