Worms: Revolution is a misnomer. Try Worms: Underbite.
2.5D doesn’t make this game a revolution. In Team17’s decision to give the latest Worms some graphical depth, they encapsulated much of what’s wrong with Worms: Revolution. Good ideas! Lame execution.
I don’t make this claim as a Worms traditionalist or a cel-shading fiend (though I am a shameless one). 2.5D could have been done well; it just wasn’t. The four themes—aesthetic templates—look pretty cheap, and staircases abound with unsmooth, stuttered lines. As you zoom in and out, textures pop. On occasion, the game will slow down. Of course, I should add that I played Worms: Revolution through Xbox Live Arcade, so downloaded from Steam and played on a nice rig, these might not be non-issues.
That said, I love the Worms series: turn-based mayhem, single-worm reconnaissance, and the occasional but priceless moment when tables are turned by just one smartly placed grenade. Worms: Revolution will sometimes yield some of those “oh snap” moments, but it does so with much more downtime and much less customization than previous games in the series.
By downtime, I mean that AI worms will often “think” with cartoon bubble overhead for dozens of seconds before acting. Once they do, they’re prone to skipping their turn or moving away from conflict. These are seconds spent listening to music less engaging than the series has featured in the past—just as minimal, but not as dark. It would have better if there was the option to display an AI worm’s turn in smooth fast-forward.
Slowness of a different kind plagues the single-player experience. Eight missions of unskippable training start it off, each of which is littered with lame jokes narrated by some celebrity I’m not going to look up. Then, in the second half of the single-player campaign enemy worms will suddenly toughen up, throwing grenades with amounts of foresight that threatened to overload my “this is bullshit” meter.
I don’t mean to make a breathless rant out of this review. There is some welcome novelty to Worms: Revolution. Water is a big one, with plenty of it encased in a wall that can be pierced, often washing away any worms in its path. The physics here make for water that ends up in the places real water would. But the way it moves to those places is more pudding-like. In fact, the smallest individual bead of water is bigger than any worm, which breaks the illusion. Even with this flaw, water spices things up enough for me to hope it returns in future Worms games.
And then there’s the smoke. The turbulence in this game—the kind that emanates from a burning cigarette, not the kind that makes you feel religious in airplanes—is nothing short of beautiful. I didn’t expect the benchmark for pretty smoke from any Worms game, but take a shotgun to the wall or drop a concrete donkey in the game and you'll see what I’m talking about.
Classes are another addition. It turns out we’ve been playing Worms with nothing but “soldiers” up until now. There’s also the Heavy who's somewhat phallic, the Scout who jumps like a ninja, and the Scientist who has a big head and, in an illustration of that which makes sense but doesn’t really make sense, heals your entire squad by 5 points at the beginning of its turns. The classes are rather innocuous, though it doesn’t hurt to give players the unforced option of playing with a different set of worms/abilities. Deathmatch with nothing but scouts is worth trying out.
All in all, Worms: Revolution just doesn’t have the polish to make it an improvement over previous games. Among these is the virtuous Worms 2: Armageddon, which looks prettier, plays more quickly, and has a far more concise HUD. It’s also available on most of the same platforms and boasts a better single-player experience. Worms: Revolution just falls short of that comparison.