iPhone Game Review: Angry Birds Space

Space!

Following the success Rovio has had with its Angry Birds franchise, it is understandable that they built on that success with a sequel in the form of Angry Birds: Seasons, and a marketing partnership resulted in Angry Birds: Rio, but these games did little to build on the original bird-flinging formula that hooked so many people to begin with. Perhaps the first ‘true’ sequel, Angry Birds Space is the first game to revitalize the game play to which even players burnt out on the franchise may be drawn to.

SPACE!

To begin with, all of the pig-hunting ornithological projectiles we’ve come to know and love have received a superhero make-over, and a few have been tweaked to accommodate the new gameplay mechanics. For example, the yellow birds previously received a speed boost in mid-air in the direction they were headed when players tapped the screen. Now purple, these birds will now speed directly to any point in the stage dictated by the player, allowing for more precise shots to be made. A newcomer is the Ice Bird, which will explode and turn the immediate surrounding area into ice, allowing objects to be shattered more easily. These changes are not, however, the most exciting feature of Angry Birds Space.

The shot in the arm the Angry Birds franchise needed was new environs, and the developers could not have picked better: space. Before assuming that the heavily-lauded physics of the series are gone to the zero-gravity abyss of space, fret not; Newton steps back for Hawking to take over, requiring players to contend with multiple spheroids of all sizes with their own  atmosphere and gravity. The slingshot from where the birds are launched might be on their own moon or on the same planetary body as the structures and pigs they must knock down, meaning depending on where you launch from you must predict how the moon’s gravity (represented by a throbbing translucent atmosphere covering each) will affect your bird’s trajectory, and multiple moons in close proximity may result in multiple interfering gravitational pulls. This results in some interesting physics interactions, but there is an element of randomness when it comes to the action. Players will find that some levels require an element of luck, not skill, to complete.

Other changes include new boss battles, in which the birds are confronted with a King Pig in some vehicle, such as a UFO or Moon Rover. They cannot be defeated using conventional means, sometimes requiring players to exploit environmental advantages to do so. These battles are a fun addition, and play out in a clever fashion. This is good because the boss battle previously attempted in Angry Birds Rio was disastrous.

In outer space, no one can hear you squeal.

The only things complaint worthy about is that while the original Angry Birds game, as well as Seasons and Rio all received new levels to commemorate the release of Angry Birds Space. While all the other games have received regular updates for free, Space is a break in the trend by offering an additional 30 levels (on top of the 60 that come with the initial purchase) for 99 cents, equivalent to the cost of the game in the first place. A small price, yes, but the sales model infers that we may see ourselves shelling out more money for DLC (downloadable content) in the future, when before we got them for free. Overall, iPhone users can expect a lot of bang for their buck(s) in Angry Birds Space.

Score: 8.5

Wallet Watch: BUY

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