First the original, then Seasons, then Rio, then Space, then Piggies and now Star Wars? At first I thought Rovio were running out of ideas; a collaboration between the somewhat serious Star Wars venture and a bunch of oversized quick-tempered birds seemed off the table. Despite my initial doubts, however, Rovio’s newest release is as addictive as ever.
Angry Birds Star Wars is that classic gameplay we all know and love put into a context that we are equally affectionate towards — that of the Star Wars franchise. This unlikely combination actually suprised me with its comical charm, something i wasn’t sure that would be retained. Will the birds still stay strong in this sequel? Let’s find out.
The main twist in strategy is that all the birds have had a Star Wars makeover. Our favorite red bird is now Luke Skywalker, and just as he did, this bird leads swiftly how to wield a lightsaber to conquer his foes. By tapping the screen, the Luke bird will slice objects within a small radius, giving you that extra push to beat a level.
One of my favourite additions to the bird lineup is the black bird who takes on the role of Obi-Wan (Ben) Kenobi. His ability allows you to push targeted objects in the direction of his approach. This makes levels that are seemingly impossible to complete a lot easier, as you can try your luck with pushing around some objects.
The next bird of the bunch is the yellow, who models Han Solo, complete with blaster pistol. Once catapulted, by tapping anywhere on the screen, this bird will shoot the designated area with three laser bursts. These can penetrate wood, but reflect off certain materials, adding a whole new dimension of angles and positioning to the game. Another cool feature is that you can see the birds you have found on your adventure so far form the menu screen!
Other notable bird upgrades are the larger red bird as Chewbacca, who causes small tremors where he lands that move and damage nearby objects; the pink bird plays Princess Leia who has a tractor beam-style ability, allowing her to remove items from a structure; and the duo of C-3P0 and R2-D2 featured in the bonus levels. R2-D2 zaps nearby enemies, whilst C-3P0 explodes into multiple parts.
Rovio has also reworked its Mighty Eagle power-up; it has become the Mighty Falcon. By firing an egg with an antenna that presumably transmits its whereabouts, the Falcon attacks all around the location of that egg, potentially completing the whole level.
You have a finite number of Mighty Falcons to use, although as you rack up more stars as you progress through the game, you get rewarded in Falcons at some stages. From £1.49 for 20 through to £13.99 for 200, you can purchase Falcons (though I don’t see why anyone would need so many!)
Obviously, it can’t just be the birds that get an upgrade; the pigs return in shades of black and grey, dressed up as a multitude of Star Wars characters such as Darth Vader and the Tusken Raiders. Certain stormtrooper pigs can shoot the same as the Han bird, which means you’ll have to watch your step.
In terms of the gameplay, it’s a mix of all the previous Angry Birds games to date. As well as the traditional bird-slinging action, there’s the gravity field concept form Space, including weightless vacuums. So it’s not just Angry Birds dressed up in cloaks holding lightsabers, but a game with (partially) new obstacles to overcome.
One of my favorite things about the game is that the pistol shots can be deflected by Luke’s lightsaber, blown away by the force (Obi-Wan) and reflected off certain objects, meaning you could alter slightly the position of the pig and it would shoot down the whole level. Learning to manipulate these stormtrooper pigs is a key stage in beating some of the levels.
The difficulty curve in this Star Wars version is just steep enough to keep you playing, but not low enough that it would bore you senseless. There are so many new dimensions to the game that, in turn, bring about many different ways to complete a level, meaning you’ll be challenged more often due to the increased level of complexity.
Everything is smooth, slick and stylish throughout the game, and even though a little more serious, the birds maintain their comic charm. The simplicity found in the Angry Birds franchise with regards to the graphics is something many games should aspire to; due to the iPhone not being an über-powerful gaming machine, the best way to show off your game and reduce stress on the CPU is to make the gas simple and vivid.
There are 80 levels (excluding hidden levels) present in the game, with an even spread between Luke’s home planet of Tatooine and the Death Star. When you get to the Death Star side of the levels, the gravity (or lack thereof) is manipulated through the medium of gravitational fields, which can dramatically alter the arc and speed of your airborne avian.
Playing through the game, I’m amazed at how well Rovio’s managed to integrate the Star Wars theme. Whether it’s the adorable undersized outfits, the cool mechanics of the true-to-original sounds and images, this game has made this combination work brilliantly. Even the opening scrolling titles are as they would be in an episode.
My only speculation is that despite the lengths that have been taken to blend the two popular series, this could be the ultimate merging of fanbases in order to generate billions of downloads. In today’s generation, Star Wars will probably appeal more to the people that had the films as part of their childhood, which is an older-ish age bracket, and on top of that is the wide range of people (many of them children) that enjoy Angry Birds. Rovio has managed to appeal to a lot of people using this crafty merger.
Not only is this the best in the Angry Birds series so far, it carries nostalgia and memories by the bucketload to all who were fans of the series. Even if Star Wars isn’t your thing, I guarantee you’ll have a blast with this game. If you don’t, I find your lack of faith disturbing.
Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away... The Birds try to retrieve their eggs from the Pigtroopers through battling their way through an array of tough challenges using superb mechanics and comical graphics to form the ultimate marriage of franchises.9