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Angry Birds Star Wars Review

November 17, 2012

Yes, Star Wars was sold to Disney, but before Disney can have a crack at it, Angry Birds developers Rovio managed to bring the galaxy far far away into the palm of our hands. So, has Rovio launched Angry Birds into hyperspace or have they toppled over like a drunken ewok?

PRESENTATION

First of all you are treated to a blast of orchestra and a familiar splash screen. It’s Star Wars, but soon after, the hint of Angry Birds kicks in when Orchestra shifts smoothly into the bouncy rhythm of Angry Birds Opening music. On the whole, Angry Birds Star Wars isn’t trying to recreate Star Wars, it’s simply mixing it into a delicious shake of Angry Birds’ addictive gameplay and joy with the yummy chunky Star Wars mechanics and sounds thrown in. A lot of Star Wars sound effects play heavily, the whum of the lightsaber, the twang of ricocheting laser bolts and the roaring of the Millenium Falcon’s hyperdrive. However, when I first started playing the sound effects did seem a little too busy, a lot of chirping, oinking and ambient noise assaulting my ears, but given some time this feeling faded.

The highlights of Episode IV are paid homage to by little splash cartoons, each identifying a pinnacle moment in the movie’s timeline. Obi Wan saving Luke from the Sand People, Luke playing around with his father’s lightsaber, Obi Wan and Darth Vader’s epic duel on the Death Star, the rebel victory and the destruction of the Death Star, all given a wonderfully unique Angry Bird’s twist. It makes you wonder what the films would have been like if Angry Birds were the lead characters, and if the Star Wars Universe was all about flinging yourself from slingshots into buildings. Seeing the Millenium Falcon launched by slingshot and bouncing off the building did make me smile a lot.

Just these little touches make all the difference. Angry Birds or Star Wars would be nothing without their cast of recognisable characters, so what happens when you ram them both together? The mascot Classic Red Bird becomes Luke Skywalker, The Black Bird (my favourite) becomes my favourite character, the Jedi Master Obi Wan Kenobi, the triangular Yellow Bird now sports a brown wig and black vest taking the role of the rogue Han Solo, the monstrous Big Red Bird now is a big brown wooly Wookie as everyone’s loveable giant Chewbacca and finally, the little blue bird, portrayed as a valiant Rebel pilot.  Two more bonus birds appear as the eccentric pairing of C3PO and R2D2.

The villains of the piece are the vile Imperial scum represented by the classic Angry Birds pig, but there is one special one. Taking on the mantel of Darth Vader, this one pig is the most evil of the bunch and will endlessly laugh at your repeated failures.

On bringing the Star Wars and Angry Birds franchise crashing together, Rovio can not be faulted. They handled the mash-up supremely, making for a very entertaining and slick product that fans of either franchise will love. But for those who love both, they will truly adore this game. Even on my ancient iPhone 3Gs the app runs smooth.

GAMEPLAY

The main change to gameplay that makes Angry Birds Star Wars feels so satisfying to play, is that it has new mechanics and aims for a more destructive style than any of the Angry Birds before it. This makes the formula seems a lot more refreshing, even if at the core the mechanics havent changed from Angry Birds. The destructive style is a lot more palatable and gives Angry Birds Star Wars endless replay-ability.

Obviously, even Angry Birds Star Wars doesn’t stray far from the formula which has been perfected over Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds Space. Of course, Angry Birds Star Wars has the same space physics and gravity mechanics as Angry Birds Space (The combo of  force push and gravity makes for some interesting solutions for overcoming tricky space levels, launching blocks out of orbit.or pushing meteorites in a planetoids orbit. The force is strong in this one). However, Angry Birds Star Wars has a mixture of classic landscape ground levels (on such planets as Tatooine, The Death Star, Hoth and Dagobah) and the newer velocity bending space levels.

The most significant change to the game is the Star Wars inspired innovations. The red bird Luke at first plays exactly as his non Star Wars themed counterpart, that is until you unlock the lightsaber. Tapping just before impact will cause Luke to make a swing with his lightsaber, letting you cut a path to the Piggy Stormtroopers. The black bird Obi Wan Kenobi, at a tap ,will initiate a force push, shunting all obstacles in the blast to hurtle around the screen. This, however, didn’t feel incredibly intuitive at first and annoyed me more often than not, but once you get a grasp with it and the force push gets upgraded, it’s literally a ‘Force’ to be reckoned with. Our little yellow friend Han Solo, at a point you choose, will fire a volley of three laser blasts. It’s great fun to fire off a burst of lasers sending them bouncing off metal surfaces, ricocheting around the place and it makes the best little ‘twang’ noise ever. I love it

After only the first set of levels you are using the birds in an unconventional, non Angry Birds way, using them more to destroy blocks under pigs or throwing blocks at them or effecting them through solid walls. Rovio has done a good job of innovating the franchise, and using the Star Wars franchise in a clever way.

Though it’s not just our friendly cast of characters that get to use the force and laser guns. The piggy Imperials are ready for you. Some pig stormtroopers will fire a laser blast, which will stop your bird dead, so you have to use good judgement and timing to navigate around piggy stormtroopers. Still, their aim is terrible and in some cases, using lightsaber and force push, you can actually turn their lasers back on them. Darth Vader pig will hold up obstacles and pick them up with the dark side of the force and you must knock him out so you can end his influence over the level and send the torrent of metal and wood crashing down on his minions heads.

Earning Stars from completing levels and getting high enough scores gives you Millenium Falcon tokens to use. These tokens bring the Falcon down to rain sweet hell on the piggy Imperials. Let’s just hope the hyperdrive is working this time. Although, it’s not as fatal as the eagle, rather it acts as a pretty cool aid if you are having trouble with a particularly hard to reach enemy.

Overall, Angry Birds Star Wars changes enough to make the format seem less repetitive and it can still hook you again and again.

 

VERDICT

For only £0.69 on the App Store there is no reason to put off getting this new inclusion to the Angry Birds franchise, especially if you have the mildest feeling about Star Wars. Rovio has done a brilliant job of making a brilliant, addictive game that almost anyone can enjoy, Star Wars fan or not. However, for the full game on Mac, its £4.99. That seems a little too much for a game that should be pick up and go.

Also worth a mention is that only Tatooine and Death Star Levels are unlocked from the start, Hoth levels are coming soon, and the Path of the Jedi (on Dagobah) is an additional £1.49. You do get to craft your own lightsaber, but I’m too cynical to pay for content for a little game that lives just on my phone. It feels like, to get the most out of Angry Birds Star Wars, you’ll need to pay for some of the privileges. There is even Falcon token packs you can buy. 200 Falcon tokens for £13.99. I really hope no one would be wasting this much money on this kind of content.

It may feel like a cynical plot by Rovio and Lucasarts to screw us out of bigger and bigger amounts, but the standard Angry Birds Star Wars is a fun, addictive and endearing game. If you’ve got 69 pence hanging about I don’t see why you can’t just jump in and once again visit that galaxy far far away, even if it’s infested with villainous swine this time around.

Image Link: Guardian.com

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