When there is a video game franchise as enormous as Angry Birds, it is often times difficult to keep things consistently fresh with each new game.
As a huge fan of Angry Birds, I will admit that despite the wealth of content stretched across four games, the gameplay of Angry Birds starts to become a little dull after a while. Getting three stars on each level and attempting to acquire a feather with the Almighty Eagle loses its addictive appeal due to similarities in gameplay with every new Angry Birds game.
Although it was still fun by tweaking some of the bird’s abilities while throwing gravity into the mix, even “Angry Birds Space” did not quite contain that same appeal that first Angry Birds did when it released.
When I first heard about Rovio developing “Angry Birds Star Wars,” I could not help but think that this was just another Angry Birds game obviously trying to milk the cash cow while adding a coat of Star Wars paint over the game’s design.
I can happily say this is not the case with “Angry Birds Star Wars,” which is now available for iDevices, Android devices, Windows phone, PC and Mac.
As the title suggests, “Angry Birds Star Wars” (ABSW) is a new Angry Birds game with some elements from Star Wars. From the birds to the pigs to the sound design and surroundings, Rovio used the Star Wars license to its fullest.
The story is loosely based off the original trilogy where you will visit familiar settings such as Tatooine, the Death Star and the far reaches of space.
Rovio did a fantastic job recreating these sites thanks to some visual improvements. The objects in the foreground appearing distant from each other made the game feel more immersive and the backgrounds would make any Star Wars fan – myself included – instantly recognize the locale. The structures also appear more realistic as they are being demolished.
The birds portray different characters from the original Star Wars trilogy. The red bird is Luke Skywalker, the black bird is Obi-Wan Kenobi, the yellow bird is Han Solo, the big brother bird is Chewbacca, the blue birds are Rebel pilots (the remaining birds have not been added yet).
The villainous green pigs represent various baddies including Tusken Raiders and Stormtroopers with Darth Vader acting as the King Pig. Rather than pigs dumbly standing in their positions ready for you to annihilate them, some pigs will use blasters to deflect oncoming birds and hinder an attack, adding more challenge to certain stages.
Each of the characters the birds personify is where this makes ABSW not only the most refreshing entry in a long time, but arguably the best in the series.
Rather than keeping their standard abilities from past games, the birds imitate the powers of the characters they portray. For instance, instead of the black bird exploding like a bomb, he uses the power of the force to throw objects to collide with other structures or pigs.
Following the story of Episode IV, Luke starts out as a red bird who normally does not have an ability other than simply hitting objects, but when Luke meets Obi-Wan like in the movie, he is granted the use of a lightsaber. With a single swing from the lightsaber, the red bird can slice through nearly every object. I say it is about time they made the red bird more useful.
Excluding the big brother bird and the blue birds, each bird has a different power from their counterparts from past games. They not only add a new layer of thought and strategy to the series, but it makes the gameplay feel the most refreshing since the original “Angry Birds.”
Adding to the refreshment is the combination of traditional Angry Birds gameplay with the realistic gravity mechanic from “Angry Birds Space.” AGSW offers the best of both worlds by mixing normal gameplay with space segments.
The normal stages are often a cinch because of the dotted-line guide, which shows the direction your bird will travel. I understand why it is necessary in space since the gravity shifts where the birds will go, but its presence on levels like Tatooine and the Death Star made it too easy sometimes.
If you sometimes find the gravity-filled stages a tad too simple, then your skills will pushed to its limits in obtaining the bonus stages. In order to access the bonus stages, you must either acquire as many stars as possible or smash golden eggs hidden throughout various stages, which is where the real challenge is.
The golden eggs are not only well hidden, but they will really test your patience and skills, as some are extremely difficult to reach.
Once you obtain a golden egg, you warp to a special stage where C-3PO, who acts as the white bird, and R2-D2 acting as his own bird are the only two characters. C-3PO detonates his own body into multiple pieces whereas R2-D2 uses his stunner to electrocute multiple pigs at once. The bonus stages can generally be difficult and rewarding upon completion.
The most disappointing aspect of ABSW is in-game purchases. Unfortunately the Almighty Eagle – rather the Millennium Falcon – is still purchased in quantities rather than a one-time 99 cent purchase for unlimited uses. If the Falcon was used to only get through a level you may find too frustrating to complete, then it would be more understandable. However, when it adds a new depth to the game where you must destroy as much of stage’s environment as possible to obtain a feather (or a medal in ABSW’s case), it is irritating, especially when getting a feather takes multiple attempts. I should not have to pay $20 for 200 uses of the Falcon when the original “Angry Birds” had unlimited uses for a mere dollar.
Worsening the in-game purchases is forcing players to pay an additional $2 for extra stages, which are made available on the first day the game is released. This would be reasonable if the levels were made available in the future, but making us download them even though they are available from the get-go leaves me feeling ripped off. Sure, you might think it is only $2, but it is the principle of the matter.
Although the in-game purchases are frustratingly disappointing, “Angry Birds Star Wars” turned out to be a pleasant surprise. With the birds having new abilities imitating famous Star Wars characters, giving pigs a chance to fight back with blasters, adding some new destructible environments and doing a great job combining the wackiness of Angry Birds with a beloved franchise such as Star Wars, this game is certainly worth your dollar.
This game also opens a window of opportunities, proving Rovio knows how to combine Angry Birds with a popular license to make a fun a fresh experience.
When he is not focusing his midi-chlorians to to get all three stars, Robbie Key proudly serves his post in “Reviews and Editorials” for Analog Addiction. He is also Stephen F. Austin State University’s lone gaming journalist, a blogger for IGN, has a passion for those cryptic things known as video games and most importantly, he is American. You can follow his completely relevant Twitter updates and watch his awesomtacular YouTube videos.