Gameplay: 7 / 10
Graphics: 7 / 10
Replay Value: 8 / 10
Sound and Music: 10 / 10
Over the few weeks, Rovio have released a number of trailers and online footage for their latest title, Angry Birds Star Wars. The team from Finland has finally released the new addition to the franchise today, 8th November 2012. The game features all the main characters from Star Wars with an Angry Birds twist, along with a few well-known locations from the movie such as Tatooine and the swamps of Dagobah, while the Death Star and Hoth are due to be unlocked after the first update. Only time will tell if this title will be as popular as the original Angry Birds, or break the quickest download record set by Bad Piggies last month.
The many fans of the Angry Birds franchise will welcome the familiar controls of Angry Birds Star Wars. The only difference in controlling the birds comes in the form of their special abilities, such as yielding a lightsaber, using Jedi mind power to move objects and firing blaster cannons, amongst others. These abilities are triggered much the same as you would have previously; after releasing the birds from the slingshot, with an additional tap in mid-air to activate the new abilities. Nothing new here.
Each of the usual Angry Birds characters take on the role of a Star Wars character. These include Red Bird as Luke Skywalker, Black Bird as Obi-wan Kenobi, Yellow Bird as Han Solo and Pink Bird as Princess Leia. There are, however, a few additions that don’t quite match up to previous birds such as R2-D2 and C3-PO, which closely resemble egg-dropping White Bird. R2-D2 has the ability to electrocute nearby objects/pigs, while C3-PO explodes into 4 separate pieces.
As always, graphics for Angry Birds Star Wars is good without being great. Intros, animations, explosions and in-game action are all tweaked to look a little ‘crisper’ than previous titles in the franchise. The only qualm I have with all the updates is the camera panning at the start of every stage. When loading the stage, we’ve become accustomed to the screen panning from right to left (from the pigs to the birds and slingshot). What’s new here is that as you’re about to fire off your bird, the screen the pans back to the right to show the damage your bird has laid upon the pigs. This panning, however, starts almost from when you grab the birds on the sling shot causing you to, more often than not, shoot the bird backwards. An easy solution would be to zoom out a little further to stop this happening, or zoom out all the way to stop the panning altogether.
This, though, is where the novelty, in terms of gameplay, wears off a bit. The game features the same basic mechanics at its core, with only the new abilities being introduced. The excitement, thus, lies in the unveiling of new birds along the way and which abilities they possess, and also the different levels/maps that appear in the background. Star Wars fans will be happy to know that most of the locations from the movie will grace the game at some point in time, starting off with 2 on release.
As we’ve seen in the latter releases of Angry Birds titles (including the updates), Rovio have presented players with in-app purchases. These include gamer packs such as $1.99 for 20 Mighty Falcons, which offer level-clearing abilities similar to the dragon in Angry Birds Seasons. This pack also comes in variants of 50, 100 and 200 Mighty Falcons. For an additional $1.99 you can unlock another 40 levels of training from the Degobah system.
In total, the first release of Angry Birds Star Wars features 90 stages. Given that the next level, planet Hoth, will only be available after a few weeks or so, there should be ample time to complete these stages, and the 10 bonus stages.
The biggest improvement seen (or heard) from Angry Birds Star Wars is its sound and music. This game would not have been complete without the score and music of John Williams featured in the Star Wars movies. The end result is something of a mash-up between the movie and original Angry Birds soundtrack, which, although, is quite interesting, provides a good background soundtrack to your pig-killing frenzy. The sound effects also include lightsaber swipes, blaster firing and Stormtrooper voices.
As addictive as this game is, there are times when many people need a little assistance to complete stages with all 3 stars. Without a full day having passed, there were already a number of walkthroughs posted online. I can only guess as to how much time was spent not only playing all stages and reaching 3 stars, while still creating a full walkthrough for these stages.
The game is available for download (and purchase) on Android, iOS and Windows PC. Although the game remains fundamentally 2D, the game has a 45MB download. This can be attributed to the additional foreground and background perspectives, new textures and sound effects. Both the Star Wars and Angry Birds franchises have a solid fan-base, many of which may see the move to release Angry Birds Star Wars as nothing more than ‘brand-prostitution’ in an attempt to sell more merchandise. Despite this, the game has a level of appeal for fans of both worlds, who may enjoy a stage or 2 of Angry Birds Star Wars before being frustrated all over again bidding to achieve a 3-star rating for each stage.