If I said to the average person “Angry Birds Star Wars”, they’d have a pretty good idea of what I’m talking about despite not playing this iteration (or possibly even if they haven’t played Angry Birds at all). Ignore that for a minute, and let’s see if I can give you a proper review as if you’ve never played the game – or even heard of it, but I have and I’m helping you understand. Deal?
So. I began playing Angry Birds with an open mind, having played past iterations exclusively on my phone. As I can attest to, here’s the core mechanic of the game; you command an army of birds, who have different abilities they can initiate. These birds are flung via slingshot at your enemies, the pigs – using their unique abilities to take out as many of them as they can, as quick as possible and with the most destruction to the environment.
Past iterations had different abilities, but as this one’s using the Star Wars theme it has ones unique to that universe. Among the most common birds is the lightsabre-wielding red bird. Upon activation of his ability, he swings a lightsabre in a 360 degree arc around him, decimating anything in his reach. There’s also the blaster-wielding yellow bird, who can shoot three laser shots upon activation. The other less than common birds seem to be the force-push bird, the pilot bird (who splits into three fighters), the boosting chewbacca bird and the cinnabun-haired Leia impersonator bird with a tractor beam. The special levels include the self-destructing C3PO bird and electrocuting R2-D2 bird, though they aren’t used enough in my opinion.
Enemies include; laser-shooting trooper pigs, storm trooper pigs, Vader pigs who use the force on objects, tye fighter pigs, Boba Fett jetpack-wearing pigs, alien creature pigs, drone pigs, imperial army officer pigs… there’s this pig, and that pig, and a whole lot of friggin’ pigs, okay? Pigs are bad – if you see a pig, fling a bird at it.
As for a very unique Star Wars element, the Millenium Falcon makes an appearance as the major destruction element that you can earn by playing the game like a pro. Call upon a Falcon using a special robotic egg that you fling like a bird; the ability to set off a locator beacon being its activator (used like a bird’s special ability). Wherever the beacon is set off, the Millenium Falcon will swoop in and attack, firing shots in all directions to take out any pigs that may need killing. It allows you to complete a level, but doesn’t give you a proper score or star rating. This is a last resort when you’re stuck, or a unique way to attack a level’s “puzzle” – nothing more.
Levels in this version are in two basic settings; on planet and space-based (off planet). The on planet levels work like traditional Angry birds game-play – you fling a bird, whose trajectory changes heavily based on gravity. Your birds always fall down at a constant rate and never fly completely straight, not even with a boost ability. The second type of levels are space-based, featuring slingshots from places not always bound directly by significant gravity. In this instance, your birds travel through space experiencing negligible friction and no directional pull from gravity – until they come upon a “gravity bubble”. These gravity bubbles exist around rocky masses in space, meant to represent planetary bodies such as planets, moons or asteroids – objects of significant gravity. When these bubbles come into contact with the birds, they either repel the birds (occurring during a glancing touch) or exert exponentially higher gravity on them the closer they are to the planetary body (the lower the orbit).
On each of the 210 regular levels (across seven different locations), you’re rated with a score; 5000 points given per pig taken out, with 10,000 given for unused birds and varying amounts for destroyed objects. This score determines your star rating, which is signified by up to three stars. Star collection determines when bonus levels unlock, an increasing amount of stars required to unlock each of the seventeen successive levels. This bonus system creates a reason to go back and improve scores, along with the varying trophies for score based goals.
Speaking of replayability, it lies with the high amount of levels as well as the fifty-one trophies (including a platinum) you’re given to complete. Multiplayer is also available, though it comes in the form of two-player local co-op or a two-to-four player local score attack mode. The only thing you’ll find that’s online here is the leaderboards.
Graphically it’s a bright, simplistic game which takes no major consideration for cutting edge realism or interesting art styles. The Star Wars theme goes well with the game, and is represented fairly and with interesting humour and design. The frame rate is solid on most areas, though dips harshly when too many physics elements are in play at one time – for example, when an explosive bird knocks a bunch of boxes and debris into orbit around a planetary mass.
The sound is crisp and clear, though a tad boring and quite annoying after a while. The effects sound pretty true to form though, so that’s a plus I guess. To me, there’s no reason to ever have the sound on in these games; but I can see where it might appeal to some.
Controls are plentiful, offering the shooting of birds using either the analog stick and “x”, the touch pad or the touch screen. The problem with this is that they’re all active simultaneously and there’s no way to turn certain ones off. Personally, I preferred the analog and “x” combination, but often found myself accidentally touching the back touchpad (or resting my Vita on my leg) and flinging a bird when I had no intention of it. Poor design choice, in my opinion.
As a package, Angry Birds Star Wars both delivers pretty much what you’d expect… and doesn’t. The frame rate issues in such a simple title are severely disappointing, the PlayStation Vita having much more power than the lesser technology this game will run quite smoothly on. For that matter, the price is also disappointing; you’re getting a game that runs better on a smartphone for ten times the cost. Fourty dollars (US/Canada) for a title you can get for less than a fiver on mobile is just plain bonkers, especially considering the fact one can buy Killzone Mercenary or Tearaway for that price (or less, in most areas).
If you just have to have Angry Birds: Star Wars on Vita, it’ll fill your need – but at a cost and a quality that might make you think twice. Angry Birds? What about the angry fans.