Angry Birds Star Wars Review: I’ve Got A Bird Feeling About This

Angry Birds Star Wars comes on the heels of the less-than-stellar puzzle-solving fiasco that was Bad Piggies, and is the next game in the Angry Birds Series (which also includes Angry Birds, Angry Birds Space, Angry Birds Seasons, Angry Birds Rio, Angry Birds Magic) from Rovio Entertainment. After that Bad Piggies episode, not only do we have our slingshot back, but we have a Lightsaber, too! How is that not amazing?

Platforms: Android, iOS (Version Played), Windows Phone 8
Publisher: Rovio Entertainment, LucasArts
Developer: Rovio Entertainment
Genre: May the Slingshot Be With You
Release Date: November 9, 2012
iTunes App Rating: 4+

There’s something to be said for merging two popular things to make one mega-popular thing. I’m not entirely sure I would have played this so much had there not been the delightful Star Wars-themed birds and pigs, but that definitely extended the life of this game for me and I found myself going back to previous levels and trying to best my scores and earn more stars to unlock more features. So, yeah, a pretty good game.

Angry Birds Star Wars, of course, deals with the ongoing war between the birds and the pigs, except this time the birds are our beloved Star Wars heroes: Luke, Obi-Wan, Han, Chewbacca, R2 & C3PO; and the pigs are sand people, Stormtroopers, TIE fighters and Imperial officers. And when you fail to complete a level by destroying all the pigs, a Pig Vader appears and mockingly laughs at you. He’s part menacing and part adorable.

I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t know what Star Wars is, or who is unfamiliar with any aspect of it, but this will even appeal to those few weirdos. On the flip side, I think this will also appeal to those who also have somehow managed to not know what Angry Birds is. I’d go so far as to say it would be enjoyable even to the one guy who doesn’t know what either are. Or electricity. So Amish of all kinds will love it. It’s that good.

The worlds and graphics are amazing and a nice blend of both franchises, with a brief Star Wars opening (“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”) complete with music that sets the tone for the game. When you start up the game, there are five planets, each with about 40 levels. There is, in order, Tatooine (40 levels), the Death Star (40 unlockable levels after finishing Tatooine), Hoth (the update section with 20 levels as of right now with more updates coming), Path of the Jedi (a paid expansion of 40 levels), and a Bonus World.

The game begins where the saga itself did: on Tatooine. Luke Skywalker is the iconic red bird, and throughout the levels, you’re introduced to Obi-Wan Kenobi as the larger black bird, and Han Solo as the little yellow bird. It’s not until level 9 that Luke can use the Lightsaber, level 12 that Obi-Wan gets to use Force Push, and level 17 for Han to shoot first. But that’s okay because the early levels go quickly and just give you some practice with the birds and their powers before it gets to be really challenging. Midway through Tattooine, the gameplay changes from typical Angry Birds levels to become more like Angry Birds Space (as it takes place in outer space with planets and orbits and gravity and all that) and as such the levels become a little more challenging. Stormtroopers have the ability to shoot back, and the Lightsaber allows you to easily bust through blocks or other obstacles (and slice through pigs). It can also block and redirect the Stormtroopers’ blasters, which is a nice feature you will need to utilize quite a bit.

For Path of the Jedi, Luke lands on Dagobah to find Yoda. Levels 2 and above require you to buy an expansion for $1.99 (unless you manage to get three stars on all of the Tattoine and Death Star levels), by asking you “Are you ready for your Jedi training? Land on Dagobah and forge a new Lightsaber!” The additional cost of the Dagobah levels is one of the few things I didn’t like about this game. I already bought the game for a dollar (yes, admittedly very cheap), but all that really got you was Tatooine (until you unlocked the Death Star and Bonus levels, or until they decided to release the Hoth update), which is only a fraction of the game. So it really felt like I was just purchasing some demo levels to see if I wanted to buy the rest of the game. It’s a sneaky way to suck you in, in my opinion. I probably wouldn’t have bought the additional levels on principle, but for the purposes of reviewing Angry Birds Star Wars in its entirety, I felt like I had to. However – I found them to be equal parts enjoyable and challenging, so the money was not wasted.

The only other thing I don’t like is how Rovio always has a section for updates – placeholders for levels that they didn’t have ready for the game’s launch. It makes the game feel not just half-finished, but also like not that much thought when into planning it, as though they had a deadline for which to churn out more pig-smashing without much forethought involved. I guess there’s nothing actually wrong with this, but when you purchase this and you see that three of the five planets straightaway are unable to be played, you kind of wonder, what exactly did I just buy? As it is, the Bad Piggies update (where allegedly the filthy swine finally get a hold of the bird eggs) came out almost five to six weeks after the game, and by then I wasn’t interested anymore. At least I took so long to play and review ABSW that the Hoth update came out and I was able to play all the levels so I could weigh in on those too.

As with the other games, you have the opportunity to earn up to three stars in each completed level depending on your performance within the level, and stars earned contribute to unlocking Bonus levels and the Millennium Falcon option. The Millennium Falcon acts as the eagle from Angry Birds Space – it can come in and shoot, potentially destroying all the pigs and giving you a leg up on the level. But like the eagle, it doesn’t guarantee the successful completion of the level, nor do you earn stars if you do complete the level with its help; and unlike the eagle, I actually find it to be not very successful. On par with the mechanic from Bad Piggies, you can purchase Millennium Falcon assistance: $1.99 for 20 Falcons, $4.99 for 50, $9.99 for 100 (“+10 free!”), or $19.99 for 200 (“+25 free!”). But keep in mind the longer and mo’ better you play and the more stars you earn, you will not need to purchase these because you’ll earn them for free.

The first Bonus level introduces us to R2D2 and C3PO – R2 flies through the air screaming and has the power to electroshock the pigs and C3PO flies through the air and breaks apart, his broken pieces scattering and damaging blocks and pigs. In general, C3PO is rather less efficient than R2. But these levels (I’ve only unlocked a few) are fun and hard.

Now, to the Hoth update. Awwwwesome! Right now this is probably my favorite. Rovio released the update on November 29th and I cruised through the first 15 levels or so and then spent what felt like forever on each of the rest of them. This is the first update to the game and it looks like there’s going to be at least one more, maybe another 20 levels added to Hoth. So, obviously as it takes place on the ice planet of Hoth, this is based on Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back, and reinvents the big fight with Rebel birds and AT-ATs and Pigtroopers. Because it’s the ice planet, there’s, well, a lot of ice everywhere. Which is actually very helpful in completing the first 15 levels, because all you really need to do is bump into things gently and they’ll go slip slidin’ away. Also of interest is the addition of the Princess Leia character, who is “played by” the pink bird. Her special power is cool and (mostly) helpful: she emits a pink Force Pull-type thing and can pick up objects from a distance and drag them around.

My only problem with the game, and really it might be just me, is that I have trouble getting Force Push to push what I want to where I want it. It’s kind of a timing issue and I guess I’ve just never gotten it perfect.

All in all, Angry Birds Star Wars is a pretty great game. I like Star Wars, I like Angry Birds, and I like the way Rovio combines the two and inserted Star Wars-themed characters and elements into the Angry Birds format. It was done very well, there’s not only the initial visual appeal of the game and its components but also the super-important functionality of them, too. I still haven’t kicked Hoth level 20′s ass, so I have to finish that, but even after I do, there’s no doubt I’ll continue to play this and try to best my scores. And of course there’s the second update to look forward to.

Review Disclosure: A retail copy of Angry Birds Star Wars was purchased by Warp Zoned for the purposes of this review.

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