Review: Worms Revolution Extreme (Playstation Vita)

coverWorms Revolution Extreme
Developer: Team 17
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Genre: Turn-based Strategy
Release Date: 10/08/2013

One year ago, Team 17 unleashed new Worms fury across the PS3, 360, and the PC.  There were several DLC releases for it, upping the single player experience by about twice what the original game shipped with, and adding a few new bits for multiplayer.  Now they’ve taken that game and all its DLC and moved that over to make it a bit more portable on the Vita, basically assembling an complete edition for the handheld.  Now, I’ve been a Worms fan for a long time, since back around 2000 when I got Worms Armageddon on the PC, and I hadn’t really played another game that captured that experience again or really added to that, until now. While there are a still a few flaws to it, this is probably my favorite iteration of the game.  Let’s take a look.

9839575266_855f9e4b89_oAs I mentioned, Worms Revolution Extreme takes the game from last year, then adds in all three DLC packs, Medieval Tales, Mars, and Funfair that were released for it, and puts it into one package on the Vita.  The campaign plays out in classic single player Worms fashion, with a really decent tutorial that gives you all the basics save for one or two special weapons.  Basically, the campaign mode plays like a standard deathmatch game in various locations with different weapon sets available to you, just against an AI opponent rather than a human one. This is all narrated by Matt Barry, who I know as Douglas Reynholm from The IT Crowd, who plays wildlife documentary maker Don Keystone here.  His commentary on your performance, as well as the dressing down before a match, are spot on and really sold the experience for me.  Yes the gameplay was great, but the narration really made this one stand out for me and it works oh so well. 

The Puzzles section is a bit of a deviation from the campaign and pits you in a battle of skill and wits to use weapons and terrain to take out the enemy, survive, and sometimes save the other worms on your team.  They’re varied and use a variety of challenges to get you around the map, and because of the limitations, you can expect to be doing these over again a few times to get it right if you manage to screw something up.  It doesn’t take much, but the bonus points and the easing into it with the puzzles makes them feel like an expanded tutorial with far more challenge to them.  All the Fun of the Fair, Missions on Mars and Medieval Tales can be accessed from the menu, so you don’t have to go through the main campaign or puzzle section to get to these.  Some play like the puzzle section, some like the campaign, but they also give some options in the multiplayer area of the game as well.

9312815423_5b3342f371_oSo what options do you have for multiplayer, which is where most of your worm mayhem will come in?  Well the Vita has a Versus mode, which is basically hot seat, where you trade the Vita between players when it’s their turn.  The only real downside to this is that when you pull off something amazing against another person, they won’t get to see your immediate skills until they get the Vita back and another member of their team is missing.  Within this mode, though, you have three options: Classic, Deathmatch and Forts. Forts pits two teams against each other each in their own respective destructible forts of varying layouts. Classic does away with the water and physics objects, as well as classes, and reverts this back to the way the game used to be played for that old school feel. Deathmatch allows up to four players with four on their team moving around the same destructible map with all the bells and whistles turned on so you can absolutely obliterate everyone else on the map. Now, you can pick different maps to play on or have it pick random maps, but there is no real map editor other than changing drop options and what’s available. You do have the option to do quick matches, ranked matches or matches with specific players. There is a Treasure mode where you can exchange keys for chest unlocks, but you can’t use them for yourself, just others, so find a friend.

Now, your four classes don’t function all that differently but have strengths and weaknesses. The Soldier is what all the worms used to be: pretty standard and flat in everything. The Scout is smaller and weaker, to the point of dealing less damage with attacks, but also faster and takes less damage from drops from heights. The Scientist gets you better weapons and also heals the team as long as they’re on the board on their turn. The Heavy is, well, heavy. More hit points, much bigger, deals more damage but is also slow as sin and can barely jump. The classes do change up your options and how you play a bit, but on top of that are new environmental things as well, like weighted objects that can deal damage if dropped and will explode if you shoot them. Then you have the water that gets stuck in areas and can flow when released, drowning worms slowly or trapping them so they can’t escape. The environment has a much bigger dynamic now instead of just being this somewhat destructible battlefield. The objects and water add an unpredictability to it all that’s refreshing. It’s not just skill now with a weapon and getting around, but also making sure you don’t screw yourself with the environmental obstacles.

9839534774_58d2b4c8f9_oMoving your worm and aiming is done with the left analog stick, which can be a little weird or aggravating if you’re trying for precision aiming and move off a ledge, so careful with that.  If you don’t move the stick left or right you’re usually okay.  It doesn’t take long to get used to it.  The left and right triggers operate your zoom in and out.  The X button handles activating the current weapon selection.  Square once makes you jump, square twice is a double jump. The circle operates as your back button and brings up your arsenal, and you can use the d-pad to move around to pick your weapon of choice, then X to select or simply tap on the touchscreen to get your weapon.  The front touchscreen can also be used in menus to make the selection there and to aim with on the rear touchscreen if you turn it on.  The triangle button will let you cycle through your options if a weapon has one, like picking different worms to swap places with or whether that magnet should attract or repel items.  The right analog stick has been given the duty of moving the camera around the screen so you can focus on different things and not just the active worm if you want.

Worms has never been a game that has exceeded visual expectations.  Even moving into the 3D arena, it’s kept to a cartoonish look, and this really isn’t pushing the envelope here either. When you zoom in all the way, it’s really apparent the limitations of doing 2.5D with 3D environments, and I almost wish they’d kept to the older visuals that were just 2D instead.  At mid zoom and out further the game looks fine, but there are some texture uglies and jagged edges all over the place when you zoom in that make moving in that close really unappealing.  The effects look great though, and the environment destruction is spot on as well as the backgrounds.  It just needs a little fine tuning in a few areas that we’ll probably not see in a Worms title in a long time. 

9839642023_737bb6c9e4_oThe usual mix of voices for your team is here.  I opted for my usual Angry Scots and the bonus voices from the expansions are also here.  It does seem like a smaller list than I’m used to from older titles, so people might take issue with that.  The music is decent, if forgettable, and the weapon effects do their job.  What really stood out for me, though, was the narration by Matt Barry who plays the wildlife documentary maker, Don Keystone.  The dialogue they gave him is spot on for a Worms title, and he brings that smarmy feel he delivered in The IT Crowd in full force here, and it leads to several hysterical lines that made me have to pause the game because I was laughing too hard.  Your mileage on the jokes may vary, but it is definitely off key Brit humor at its best. 

The trophy monster rears its head with this one, so for those going for platinum, there’s a reason to keep coming back, as one big session probably isn’t going to cut it.  If you’re looking to get gold ratings on all the single player campaigns and puzzles it might take you a bit, as it’s based on speed, so if you’re taking your time getting through you won’t get all your points in one go.  Customization is similarly hampered by you playing through single player to unlock all the options so you can make your Worms look as ridiculously menacing in multiplayer as you want.  Once they’re unlocked, though, I admit there is a bit of fun to be had simply going through what’s available for that complete Worm look.  The game has a certain charm that’ll keep you coming back, and the multiplayer on top of that will either leave you infuriated at your inability to kill the enemy team and wanting to better or gloating over their smoldering remains and tombstones. Then, of course, there’s the leaderboards to make sure you’re leading against all your friends. Highly important with a Worms game.

9312815051_0094cdc3b4_oI will say that the game’s difficulty is pretty well spread out.  You’ll find it more challenging as you move further into the puzzles and the same with the campaign.  Your online experience will vary depending on your opponent’s skill level to be sure.  I do think that, overall though, the price on the Vita version is fantastic.  You’re getting all the content of the original release and DLC for half the price, which is a steal.  Even if you’d bought the original on the Plus discount, you’re still saving yourself eight bucks.  Honestly, this would be my preferred version of the game either way, as the short missions lend themselves well to the handheld and I’m all for playing versus mode with just my Vita if I need to.  I usually fire up the PS3 gaming wise for much longer sessions, so it feels right at home here. 

In a game series that’s seen twenty major releases since its debut in 1995, it’s hard to call even this version original.  Yes, they have actually changed things up a little by putting classes into the game, which does lend itself to all sorts of new strategies on top of adding water traps and other new environmental changes. Beyond the puzzle mode, the regular match set-ups are things I’ve seen before.  While the battleground changes, the gameplay remains relatively the same as before.  Anyone jumping into this from a previous Worms title, barring Worms Forts, will be able to pick this up and play with minimal effort, as the basic rules are still the same.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it has been a bit stifling for the series and people looking for more than just a ‘roster update’.

9315600892_d9b8815140_oOverall this has been the most engrossed I’ve been in a Worms title in a long time.  Between the hilarious narrator and the change-up in gameplay and class additions, the game feels fresh again, or at least better than a simple coat of paint.  The puzzles are a lot of fun and give enough bonuses that I found myself engrossed in them for several hours alone with my face buried in my Vita, much to my wife’s annoyance.  The charm is all here, I’ve had a blast with it and will definitely be playing it for the long haul. 

While there have been many releases over the years, including portables, this is the first released specifically for the Vita.  Yes, there’s Worms: Battle Islands, but that was for the PSP, and Worms Open Warfare and Worms Open Warfare 2 aren’t listed as downloadable, so those are out.  Plus, why get Battle Islands when Worms Revolution Extreme is the more recent release, is the same price with more content and online play plus trophies?  I mean the touchscreen is nice, but it’s hardly used in this version, so really it’s more about the content and it looking a little better than previous titles, but not by much because, as a Worms title, they’re not going for realism.  It’s cheaper, it’s a new title, and Vita owners finally get their own Worms title to play instead of one of the older PSP releases. 

I did have a few issues with it.  There were a few occasions when the screen didn’t pop back to normal after it had darkened to denote the change in player turn.  I had a problem in one match where my Heavy got stuck in what looked like a completely open and blasted out area but couldn’t jump, couldn’t fire out of it, couldn’t get hit by enemy fire and became quite useless as the match dragged on in the campaign.  I couldn’t replicate it so I’m chocking that up to bad collision and destruction detection.  I also had some issues with slowdown in framerate, something I’d noticed back in Worms Armageddon and Worms Open Warfare.  It’s usually when the AI opponent is first taking over or it’s swapping back to the player and when the enemy AI is sitting there trying to think of how to obliterate you next.  While this doesn’t affect your play in any way other than telling you, visually, that the game is thinking extra hard on how to blow you away, it’s a bit annoying.  While there are some issues, I had a blast playing this. If you already have it all on the PS3, the reduced price for a complete package might help ease the pain. Overall, though, the game was fairly smooth, and while not a visual powerhouse, it’s still a decent title to look at and well worth the admission price.

Short Attention Span Summary
Worms Revolution Extreme is the portable version of Worms I wanted when they released Worms Open Warfare on the PSP seven years ago.  While there’s a bit of slowdown when changing between teams and your AI opponents can take far too long to really make up their minds before taking their turn, the game runs beautifully on the Vita.  The options for the touchscreen are a bit limited, but the regular controls are just fine.  All the DLC content from the original Worms Revolution is here and at half the price for the whole kit and caboodle, and being able to share between this and the PS3 version with game saves, they’ve got a nice thing going.  This is the most fun I’ve had playing a Worms title since Worms Armageddon first came out, and for anyone who likes their turn-based strategy a little on the strange but funny side, unless you already own the original on another system, this is a definite must-have for your Playstation Vita.


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