"The Force is Strong With This One"
Angry Birds. Star Wars. The two shouldn't ever have come together in a logical universe, yet here I am, writing a review for such a crossover (and now that I think about it, we have things like reality TV and Twilight, so my logical universe argument was ridiculous to begin with).
Indeed, Rovio has had its way with the Star Wars brand (and just in time too, considering how Disney owns it now), resulting in Angry Birds: Star Wars. While they could have been lazy and simply slathered the Star Wars brand across rehashed ideas, this latest addition to the Angry Birds franchise lives up to its high standards with some neat new spins on the familiar gameplay.
From the "A Long Time Ago…" beginning to the liberal use of the famous themes and sounds. to iconic settings like Tatooine and the Death Star, Angry Birds: Star Wars takes full advantage of the brand. Even the birds themselves have been Star Wars-ified, dressed as the likes of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Chewbacca.
These costumes don't just bring aesthetic changes. In most cases, they change the way the birds are used to make bacon of Tusken Raider, Pigtroopers, and Empire pigs. For instance, the Red Bird (dressed as Luke), normally the blunt, gimmick-less projectile, can now swing a lightsaber that damages all barriers around it. The Black Bird (Obi-Wan) can do a Force-push that sends objects flying in any direction (tapping any spot on the screen controls the direction of the push), the Yellow Bird (Han) can fire lasers that can ricochet off metal objects (and are also controlled by tap position).
All the birds from Angry Birds: Star Wars (with the exception of the Blue Bird) come with a new take on their standard gimmick that changes the way they are played, and ABSW shows this off well in the stages. A mix between the original Angry Birds stage design with the gravity mechanics from Angry Birds Space, the stages here are also designed to make use of the bird's new abilities. To name an example, a few stages will require the Yellow Bird's ricocheting lasers to get around the pigs' defenses.
Speaking of which, the defenses the pigs put up to prevent avian victory are enhanced as well in Angry Birds: Star Wars. The most notable additions for the pigs are the inclusions of swine armed with blasters, laser turrets, and TIE Fighter pigs (which also fire lasers). These lasers can be a hassle, as they can knock a bird off its trajectory, but they can also be used against the pigs. Use the Red Bird's lightsaber, or knock a blaster-packing pig over, and those lasers can be sent flying into other pigs (oh, the unmitigated satisfaction).
This brings me to the most winning aspect of Angry Birds: Star Wars, an aspect I can best sum up as "addictability" (it's not a real word, per se, hence the quotations). In pursuit of the three-star ranking for each stage, I found a surprising yet satisfying amount of challenge in most stages. In fact, at one point, as I flung a bird through the air, I seriously uttered "Use the Force" out loud. Seriously. Having not played every Angry Birds game, I can't say that Angry Birds: Star Wars's stages are the franchise's best, but they are definitely among the better offerings from Rovio. No stage is impossible to beat, and most are pretty easy to clear if the objective is to just beat the pigs, but that would mean missing out on the challenge that makes trying to ace this game such a blast.
The only gripe I can place against Angry Birds: Star Wars is that, currently, it feels a tad light on content, with only two sets of stages, a few bonus stages, and a set that can only be experienced in its entirety via an in-app purchase or getting three stars on all the available stages. It may not be a lot right now, but more content, such as a Hoth-themed set of stages, will rectify that soon enough. Also, when the stages are such fun as they are here, it's not much of a deal-breaker.
"A truly awesome combination, or the most utterly ridiculous idea of the year?" I pondered this question when news of the Angry Birds / Star Wars crossover first broke (this is the first time I've quoted myself. Feels silly). Having now partaken of Rovio's newest, Jedi-flavored offering, I say that the answer is definitely "awesome combination". It's fun, challenging, and rewarding to boot. Plus, it's a game that fans of both franchises will enjoy, regardless of their feelings towards the other.
It makes me think of something Darth Vader said once. As he put it, "Impressive… most impressive."
GameDynamo's Score for Angry Birds: Star Wars (Mobile)
A writer, journalist, and aspiring storyteller, Peter Grimm has been gaming since the days of the Nintendo 64, and reporting on the goings-on in the World of Gaming since late 2011. His base of writing operations is located within the void between Here and There, or so he would have you think.
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