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‘Angry Birds Star Wars’ for iOS, Android and Windows Phone 8 game review

What do you get when you combine two franchises that have been done to death? Why the Angry Birds Star Wars, of course.

Angry Birds Star Wars is, as Rovio likes to call it, Angry Birds’ biggest adventure yet. The game is based on the story of the Star Wars franchise and has birds dressed as the characters from the Rebel Alliance whereas the pigs are dressed as the Galactic Empire. After that it’s your usual bird flinging action but with some new abilities. But will that be enough to bring back gamers who have clearly flung enough birds to last a lifetime? Let’s find out.

Title
Angry Birds Star Wars
Developer
Rovio Entertainment Ltd.
Platform
iOS
Android
Windows Phone 8
Release Date

November 8 2012
Content rating

4+
Everyone
N/A
Size
28.3MB (iPhone) / 31.6MB (iPad)
44MB
20MB
Price
$0.99 (iPhone) / $2.99 (iPad)
Free (ads) / $2.99 (HD)
$0.99

This is possibly the widest release for any game yet, with support for iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8 and Kindle Fire on the mobile side and Windows, Windows 8 and OS X on the desktop side. So kudos to Rovio for managing to pull it off. The Android version is the only one where you can get the game for free but with ads. You can remove the ads by paying $0.99 through in-app purchasing. There is also an HD version for Android where the only difference is that the buttons are bit bigger and easier to tap on high resolution displays (the actual game looks the same).

Premise

The premise of the game can be summed up in the video below. It also helps if you have watched the Star Wars movies.

Gameplay

Gameplay in Angry Birds Star Wars is a combination of old and new. The old part actually comes from two games, the standard Angry Birds and the recent Angry Birds Space. The new part comes with the special abilities that each bird has. Now all the birds from the standard Angry Birds line-up have been changed to vaguely resemble Star Wars character. So the red bird is now Luke Skywalker, black bird is Obi-Wan Kenobi, yellow bird is Han Solo, big red bird is Chewbacca, pink bird is Princess Leia, white bird is C-3PO and the blue bird is Wedge Antilles. There is also a new R2D2 ‘bird’. The pigs, meanwhile, are dressed as all sorts of Empire characters, only ones I know being the Stormtroopers and Darth Vader himself.

With the new characters come new abilities. After a few initial levels, the Luke bird gets a lightsaber that can be used to slice through objects, thus causing a lot more damage than usual. The Ob-Wan bird uses the Force to blast objects away. As soon as he is near something, you have to tap on the screen where you want the objects to go and he sends a shockwave the sends everything flying in that direction. He is definitely one of the coolest birds in the game.

The Han Solo bird shoots laser through his gun. The laser beams can shoot through glass and wood and bounces off steel. The bouncing can be used in some levels to access hard to reach areas. The Chewbacca bird is like a giant wrecking ball. It carries immense weight and can crush entire structures under its weight, making it a joy to use. The blue bird is same as it has been in every Angry Birds game; it splits up into three smaller birds. Worst. Bird. Ever.

The C-3PO and R2D2 birds have their own levels and are not found in the main storyline. You can make C-3PO explode and the fragments destroy everything they touch. R2D2 meanwhile sends out electric bolts in its surrounding, killing any nearby pigs.

The Princess Leia bird is not found in any of the current levels and is expected to be in additional levels that will arrive later.

Now that we are acquainted with the new birds, here’s the boring part; the gameplay is exactly the same as in Angry Birds and Angry Birds Space. Some of the levels are played on land where you have regular gravity and physics similar to Angry Birds, where birds arch downwards after a while of being projected. The space levels play out similar to Angry Birds Space, where no gravity means the birds keep going straight in the direction you send them in as long as they don’t get pulled into a nearby planet’s gravitational field.

The new abilities does make the game interesting and although I haven’t bothered playing Angry Birds in a while the new abilities were enough to make me go through most of the levels (that and I also had to finish this review). However, it became harder to play once the game switches to the Angry Birds Space-esque levels, which come in every now and then. I’ve never been a huge fan of Angry Birds Space and so the space levels were the least interesting aspect about the game for me.

What continues to annoy me about Angry Birds is that although it has a three star rating system it never bothers to tell you what exactly you have to do to get those three stars. The general idea is to get the maximum score, which involves killing all the pigs with as few birds as possible (preferably just one) and get the highest score. Still, without a proper number, it just makes you repeatedly play through each level in the hope that you can get all three stars.

There is also this thing where you can only go so far before you start flinging birds around randomly with the intention to just get through the level. The structures in Angry Birds are designed in a way where there is usually one point to hit that can bring the whole thing down. But with so many birds at your disposal it’s easier just to go ‘screw this’ and just start aiming randomly at things. It also doesn’t help that most levels do really look like they are arranged at random with no easy way to get three stars. When the objective is not clear, a game can go from difficult to frustrating very quickly.

If you just can’t get through a level, you can use this super ability that they added to Angry Birds games recently, where you sacrifice one of your birds for this super awesome bird and wherever it lands that point gets bombarded by a ship that flies over, which usually is enough to destroy the entire level. However, if you win this way you don’t get stars but instead just a medal. These abilities are limited and you get more as you play or you can purchase more using in-app purchasing.

As before, the game is still difficult to play on small screens. When zoomed in, you can either see the birds or the pigs. If you zoom in on the birds, you have no idea where you are aiming. If you zoom out, things become ridiculously tiny. And you have to zoom out completely, otherwise the camera keeps moving left to right annoyingly and often when you don’t want it to. Like when you’re aiming, it would move right and restrict your movement so you can’t aim properly as there is no longer space on the screen on the left side to pull the bird back because the dumb camera shifted right. I have always felt that Angry Birds is best experienced on a big monitor with a mouse where you can zoom out completely and still see everything in proper size, and Angry Birds Star Wars does nothing to change that belief.

The game comes with 80 levels by default, along with 33 bonus levels featuring R2D2 and C-3PO that are unlocked as you keep getting more stars. There are also 40 other levels in the game that are a paid extra. At first I thought this was because I downloaded the free Android version but then realized you have to purchase these levels even in the paid version. Why would Rovio make you pay extra for these levels when you already paid for the game is beyond me.

Graphics and Sound

If you’ve seen one Angry Birds game, you’ve seen them all. Angry Birds Star Wars uses the same art style and level design structure as the previous games. The new birds look nice and you see some nice mish-mash of the Angry Birds and Star Wars universes, such as pigs with Stormtrooper helmets on and a Death Star that looks like a pig but other than that there is nothing new.

Sound-wise, the game once again is acceptable. It mostly uses Star Wars theme with a bit of Angry Birds-ization done to it and it sounds okay. They have new cries for the birds that play when you launch them that sound pretty good and in-line with their characters.

Verdict

If you love Angry Birds games in general, Angry Birds Star Wars would be manna from heaven. It features the same basic gameplay but adds new characters with new abilities that will keep things fresh for Angry Birds fans. However, if you have outgrown the gameplay or were never a fan of it to begin with, Angry Birds Star Wars does not have much to change your mind.

It’s interesting to see Angry Birds and Star Wars collaborate on something. Both continue to make an insane amount of money for their creators and neither of them knows when to stop.

Rating: 3/5
Pros: Star Wars elements neatly integrated into the gameplay, wide availability on multiple platforms
Cons: Gameplay feels stale, still no clarity on how to obtain all three stars, pain to play on small smartphone screens, includes extra levels that need to be bought separately

Download: iPhone/iPod touch | iPad | Android | Kindle Fire | Windows Phone 8

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