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

The original Angry Birds Star Wars hit the app stores last year in November and came as a breath of fresh air. Although an Angry Birds game at heart, the game featured brand new birds modeled after Star Wars characters and had their own unique new powers that made the game more exciting than what you’d expect from an Angry Birds game.

Now, Rovio is back with a sequel, with the aptly named Angry Birds Star Wars II that is based on the prequel trilogy of Star Wars movies, and once again features several new characters and environments in dozens of new levels. But after four years and several similar games, is flinging birds at pigs still going to be entertaining? Let’s find out.

Title
Angry Birds Star Wars II
Developer
Rovio Entertainment Ltd.
Platform
iOS
Android
Windows Phone 8
Release Date
September 2013
Content rating
4+
Low Maturity
N/A
Size
44.3MB
42MB
32MB
Price
$0.99

Gameplay

Angry Birds has gone through several changes over the years but at its heart it’s still the action-puzzle game as the original. The original game and its many variations had you flinging birds at pigs, who were trapped within intricate structures that you had to break down and destroy the pigs.

Angry Birds Star Wars II follows the same formula but now you have different characters. There is obviously the good side and the bad side. The former is modeled after characters such as Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Jar Jar Binks, Yoda, etc., whereas the latter after characters such as Boba Fett, Darth Sidious, Darth Maul and Darth Vader. Those who know their Star Wars should instantly recognize these characters.

The game is set in two worlds, Naboo and Tatooine, with more worlds coming in future. From the start, the game gives you the option to play as the good side (Bird Side) or the bad side (Pork Side). When you choose one, the other gets locked for that world until you reach a certain score in the former.

Each world has a couple of dozen levels on either side, with a couple of special levels unlocked when you find certain hidden objects in the other levels. As you play with these characters, you also earn points for them, which then unlocks another set of special level for that particular character. Overall, there is a lot to play with here and you won’t feel short of levels any time soon.

As with the previous Star Wars game, Star Wars II gives each of the characters a special ability that goes with their movie character. Some shoot rockets, some lasers, some shoot electric bolts, some bounce around and cause carnage, some stick to a surface and swing around. Each side has over a dozen characters and while the characters on one side are all fairly different they tend to have similar abilities on the other side, just with a different look.

The game unlocks new characters as you play along, but if you’re impatient, you can also unlock new characters using the points that you get by playing the game. The game offers you the choice to purchase characters for a limited number of tries or unlock permanently. This way you don’t have to wait for the character to unlock if you want to play with it and all characters are instantly available for purchase outright.

The characters are priced according to their abilities and some of the more important ones such as Yoda and Darth Vader are quite expensive and you don’t exactly get a lot of points per level to keep unlocking them willy-nilly. You can use the in-app purchase option to get additional points if you’re short to unlock these characters. But fortunately, I felt just playing the game unlocked them at a fair rate and I never felt the need to go out and unlock the characters separately. So even though there is IAP in this game, it doesn’t feel forced upon you as in some other recent games we have seen.

Now, speaking of actual gameplay, I wasn’t entirely sure if I would enjoy playing Angry Birds after all this time again. But just like with the original Star Wars game, Star Wars II surprised me with just how fun it is. The new characters are genuinely good and their abilities makes playing the game, despite its familiarity, feel new and engaging. Good thing about the characters is that they all feel useful and seem to cause a good amount of damage, which makes them less frustrating than the original game that just had a couple of good birds.

Some age old caveats still stand, however. There is still a three star system and as before you have no way of knowing when and how to get all three of them. You may crush the entire level with just bird but you still might end up with just two stars. Obviously, you have to reach a certain score to unlock all the stars but the game never makes that clear, so you just have to play again in the hope that this time you may reach the magic number, whatever it is.

Secondly, playing Angry Birds is 1% actual skill and 99% sheer dumb luck. You could try to be as accurate as possible and still cause little to no damage or you could just shoot blindly and take down the entire level in one move. There is no telling what might work and the only strategy here is to keep shooting until something or the other works. You can never tell in what way something might fall when you hit it and the physics are iffy at best. This trial and error gameplay and over-reliance on luck than skill is probably why serious gamers stay away from this game as there is no reward for precision and thus no satisfaction in completing the level with all stars because you know you had very little to do with it and it was mostly just luck.

One interesting new feature Rovio has introduced with this game is called Telepods. These are separate physical toys that are sold through toy stores that look like the game characters. You purchase these and place them on the front camera of your device and it then gets scanned and added to your game. Sounds pretty cool but I was unable to try it out for this review.

Graphics and Sound

With Star Wars II, Rovio once again goes back to the cartoonish look of the visuals but the real attraction here is the design of the characters, which is absolutely fantastic. The designers at Rovio have really outdone themselves by melding classic Star Wars characters into their own bird and pig designs based on previous games. In theory, the idea sounds laughable but the execution is so flawless you can’t help but wonder at the power of imagination of their creators. All the characters look terrific and are a great tribute to both, Star Wars as well as Angry Birds characters.

The level design hasn’t improved tremendously but the two new worlds, Naboo and Tatooine, both look good. The game features land, space and water levels and feature similar dynamics as some of the previous Angry Birds games that employed these environments. There are several new gameplay mechanics as well, which keep things interesting.

In terms of audio, the game makes liberal use of music from the movies, which is good because some of it is really good. The rest of the audio is also fine and although there’s nothing particularly exceptional about it, it’s pretty decent overall.

Verdict

It’s easy to look at this game and go “Not another Angry Birds game!” While it’s true that in terms of gameplay Angry Birds in general is no longer fresh or exciting, it’s hard to say that after playing this game for a while. The new character design and abilities give the game a much needed shot in the arm and although I haven’t enjoyed playing Angry Birds in a while now I actually had a lot of fun with this one, to the point where I actually wanted to go through all the levels instead of just giving up after the first twenty. And this is without me being a Star Wars fan. If you’re one of those then you’re bound to love this game even more than I did.

So yes, it is essentially old wine in a new bottle. But in this case, the bottle is good enough for you to forget that it’s the same wine that you’ve been drinking for the past four years.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pros: Superb variety of characters with fun new abilities and fantastic design, ability to play as the birds as well as the pigs
Cons: No proper way to find out how to get all stars in a level, gameplay relies more on luck than skill

Download: iOSAndroidWindows Phone 8

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